Nothing but Net: New ASA Student Contest Combines Statistics and Basketball

The calendar says February, but the ASA’s public education initiative, ThisIsStatistics, is gearing up for March Madness. Now, following on the heels of last fall’s student election prediction contest is Statsketball 2017, a contest for high-school and undergraduate students to use statistics—rather than luck—to predict the outcome of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.

“We’ve seen that sports are a uniquely visible and exciting format in which statistics tend to resonate with the general public, and especially within the student population,” said Ron Wasserstein, executive director of the ASA. “Capitalizing on the popularity of March Madness this time of year, we wanted to give students the opportunity to challenge themselves and demonstrate the value of statistics as it relates to a major sporting event.”

Within the contest are two separate challenges. The “Pick ‘Em Upset Challenge” has students submitting a list of 32 winners to the first round games, whereas the “Build Your Own Bracket Draft Challenge” requires students to assemble a cohort of teams from seeded participants.

Inspiration for the contest came from ASA member Michael Lopez, statistics professor at Skidmore College, who is consulted by media and industry professionals on statistics and probability in a variety of sports.

The submission process is now open. Entries are due by March 13, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Six rounds. Sixty-eight teams. Thousands of possibilities. One winner. Share with a student you know, and perhaps they can claim the glory and fame in the statistics big dance.