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Math meets March Madness at Davidson College

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DAVIDSON, N.C. -- After correctly predicting North Carolina as last year's NCAA basketball national champion, a Davidson College math professor and two of his students are at it again.

Using only a set of numbers and equations, the mathletes are hoping they have just has much success this year.

"It seems like so many of them are picking Kansas that it just seems like the human element is going to get us this year," said math professor Dr. Tim Chartier.

That didn't happen last year, the first time Chartier and a couple students used a set of equations to correctly predict the champion, and most of the other games.

"Last year, our best bracket was in the 97th percentile," Davidson senior Erich Kreutzer said.

The one that did really well last year was what's called a step function. That equation adds a team's momentum going into the tournament to factors like its point differential in wins and losses, and its strength of schedule.

"So if you beat a team at the end of the season, that's going to mean a lot more than if you beat a team at the beginning of the season," Kreutzer said.

For Jennings Boley, who has little interest in basketball, being involved in this March Madness math is a sport of its own that adds some more fun to the subject.

"That's part of what's so exciting is seeing how the math and my model will stack up against the experts," he said.

But Chartier admits even the most complex equation isn't always a slam dunk.

"That's why we watch,” he said. “We watch because we don't know either, no matter how we model it, you never know, and that's what makes it fun."

The professor got this idea from a colleague at the College of Charleston. That professor also correctly predicted the tournament's 2008 champion.

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