Modeling years of game data to give some method to March Madness, Furman’s math department has been prominent in prognosticating NCAA Tournament upsets for nearly a decade. The predictions produced by Furman math professors Kevin Hutson (2016 SCICU Excellence In Teaching award winner), Liz Bouzarth, and John Harris (Furman Class of 1991) have figured prominently with ESPN’s Giant Killers, The Athletic (New York Times online subscription service), and other sports news outlets.
The Furman math trio reports that tournament upsets occur at a 22-23 percent rate. This year the Furman models gave the Paladins nearly a 40 percent chance of pulling off an upset. The Athletic, a New York Times online subscription service that incorporates the Furman modeling in its bracket predictions, reported Mar. 12 that Furman’s chance of a first-round upset as higher than any of the other first-round matchups.
In a March 14 piece reported by Greenville’s NBC affiliate WYFF, Furman math professor Liz Bouzarth said, “The fact that our systems show that Furman has a 39 percent chance of upset– or 40 percent, about that – that’s a bit higher than 23 percent. That’s interesting. It’s something to keep an eye on. It’s not saying that Furman is guaranteed to win, but it’s a “more-likely-than-average” upset to happen, so worth looking at.”
That analysis proved prophetic.