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U Student Generates MIT Interest With Bracket Formula

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Like most basketball fans, University of Minnesota graduate student Luke Stanke is checking the teams and figuring out his brackets. But Stanke has a secret weapon.

He developed a formula that picks winners better than the formula the NCAA uses. In fact, his paper was part of a stats conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“With my model, you need to know the results of every game, and each game gives a unique weighting to how a team’s value is created,” Stanke said.

He says it’s a more dynamic formula, using opponent’s actual histories, instead of strength of schedule.

“Getting the actual data takes an hour or so,” he said. “But then I have to manipulate the data so it’s in a certain format for analysis, and that’ll take three or four or five hours.”

And after crunching those numbers, he placed Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Kansas in the Final Four. He also has some interesting sleepers.

“You look at Belmont,” he said. “Belmont’s a pretty good team when you watch them play, and they should be higher.”

That said, Stanke knows all formulas have limitations. That’s how his fiancée beat him last year.

But Stanke doesn’t hold a grudge, because he’s part numbers geek and all basketball fan.

“That’s the best part,” he said. “There’s going to be a game that you can’t predict. And the fun part is watching that.”

He’s actually working on a new, improved model that takes seeding into account, because he thinks it does influence teams.

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