The researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, whose LRMC (Logistic Regression Markov Chain) computer ranking system has established a strong track record in picking NCAA men's basketball tournament winners over the past few years, have released their 2011 bracket.
For those of you not freaking out about how much worker productivity will be lost or how your network might get slammed by employees streaming game video, here's what the system says: It's got Ohio State beating Kansas for the title, and Brigham Young University and Duke rounding out the Final Four. Although the researchers are already hedging on BYU, which recently lost a key player to suspension.
(Unfortunately for Ga. Tech, it hasn't had to worry about any bias toward its own team, which just dismissed its head coach after the team's fourth losing season in 6 years.)
Last year the system picked 51 of 64 games correctly, though didn't predict Butler's improbable run or Duke's eventual crown. Kansas was the system's choice. The LRMC did correctly pick North Carolina as 2009's champ and Kansas as 2008's winner.
The program doesn't exactly go out on a limb picking its winners, which it chooses based on factors such as home court advantage, scores and margins of victory. But it does sometimes sniff out upsets during the early rounds.
One of the researchers, Joel Sokol, suggests starting with LRMC and then tweaking your picks based on personal knowledge, according to a write-up on the Ga. Tech website. (Sorry, I realize most brackets have been filled out by now...)
"It’s like Watson,” operations research professor Sokol said of the IBM Supercomputer that appeared on “Jeopardy!” last month. “Overall LRMC is likely to be better than others, but every once in a while it says something that you look at and say, ‘How could that be?’”
Follow Bob, who has picked Florida to win it all for no particular scientific or emotional reason, on Twitter.