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Great Lakes Analytics in Sports Conference

Laura Albert

Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering | University of Wisconsin-Madison

Forecasting the College Football Playoff Using Markov Chains

Selecting the teams for the College Football Playoff is a controversial process performed by the selection committee. We present a method for forecasting the four-team playoff weeks before the selection committee makes this decision. Our method uses methodology based on Markov chains, logistic regression, and simulation to forecast the teams that will be selected for the four team playoff. I will also discuss how this method can be applied to ranking NCAA Division I men’s college basketball teams. Attendees will learn how Markov chains can be used to rank sports teams, how to make informed decisions with limited data points, and how simulation can be used for forecasting.

Laura Albert, Ph.D., is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Affairs in the College of Engineering and an Associate Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests are in the field of operations research, with a particular focus on discrete optimization with application to homeland security and emergency response problems. Dr. Albert’s research has been supported by NSF, DHS, and the Department of the Army, Sandia National Laboratory, and she has been awarded an NSF CAREER award. She has authored or co-authored more than 50 publications in archival journals and refereed proceedings. Her research has been awarded several honors, including four best paper awards, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and a Department of the Army Young Investigator Award. Dr. Albert is the INFORMS Vice President for Marketing, Communication, and Outreach. She is the author of the blogs “Punk Rock Operations Research” and “Badger Bracketology.” 

Follow Laura on Twitter

Listen to a podcast interview with Laura and GLASC director Scott Tappa

Watch a video of Laura's 2018 GLASC presentation

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