ACC Tournament

SAS program picks NCAA field

Posted March 18, 2013

A trio of college professors didn't need CBS' Selection Show to start filling in their NCAA Tournament brackets. They used a program developed at Cary-based SAS to perfectly predict the field of 68 teams.

"We had a fantastic year. It was wonderful," said Allen Lynch, director of the Sports Business program at Mercer University.

Lynch and his partners plugged in teams and records and ran SAS analytics to determine the 37 at-large teams in this year's tournament. They have been working on their project – they call it the Dance Card – for 15 years, with a success rate of about 93 percent. In 2012, the team got 36 of 37 teams. In 2013, they hit 100 percent.

"We've been doing this forever," Lynch said. "I got an email from my co-author last night. It was just an email but, man, I saw him jumping up and down in that email. He was so excited."

SAS Communications Manager Mike Nemecek says the same type of technology used to predict the basketball teams is often used in the business world to predict sales patterns, where it would make sense to put a store, even who should get a promotion.

"The analytics from SAS is helping the Dance Card professors pick better, but it's also helping organizations today make better business decisions," he said.

As basketball fans begin filling out their brackets, Lynch's work is done. The professors have perfected picking what teams will make the tournament, but they do not analyze performance in the Big Dance. Lynch said that would encompass a who new set of variables including player injuries and referee calls.


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  • VT1994Hokie Mar 19, 2013

    SAS did a solid job in picking the 37 to enter. There are several companies that are doing this as well. They still can't do much more than this. No one knows whom will win; yet. Play the games.

  • sburks1906 Mar 19, 2013

    Uh, is that SAS program for sale?

  • davidgnews Mar 19, 2013

    In the end, a computer program will be overruled by 'any given day' in the basketball world !

  • 321oohaw Mar 19, 2013

    I will be impressed when those nerds can successfully pick every winner in the tournament.

  • Ken D. Mar 18, 2013

    So who needs Joe Lunardi?

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