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The math of march madness

A teacher’s college basketball tradition sparks student interest

Ermias Hagos and Piper Sloan, Sports Editors
Originally published March 30, 2018


Pre-calculus teacher and basketball coach Michael Broom hands out brackets to his students and tracks them throughout the season. (Miles Whitworth)

Pre-calculus teacher and basketball coach Michael Broom hands out brackets to his students and tracks them throughout the season. (Miles Whitworth)

It’s definitely not what students expect when walking into math class each day. Instead of worksheets they fill out brackets, and instead of keeping up with their studies, they’re asked to keep up with the games.
It makes perfect sense for people to get their friends and family involved in their March Madness pool, but one teacher has gone above and beyond to get his students into the spirit of the season. Michael Broom, Head Coach for Boys Basketball, pre-calculus teacher and academic intervention specialist has given all of his students brackets for the tournament.
“[I’ve been doing this] since I’ve been at Ballard, I think this is my tenth year,” Broom said.
Three classes are competing for a $25 gift card to the place of their choosing, provided it’s legal for minors. People are hanging on the edge of their seats to see who pulls ahead as the tournament comes to a close, especially with the recent upsets.
“I think it’s fun for everybody to see what different people pick, and how they pick and why they pick,” Broom said. “There will be a crazy upset and the chances are that somebody picked them.”
It’s no surprise that people pick all sorts of teams for the win, either. A survey that asked people how they chose their March Madness winners showed that only 25 percent of people in the competition use actual knowledge about basketball. Most people just used seed numbers, and looking at the surprising results, it’s no wonder most people aren’t doing so well.
Junior Andres Dominguez who played basketball in his younger days didn’t do a bracket this year or follow any of the March Madness games.
“I don’t follow March Madness, but I did follow basketball when I was younger. I’m no longer interested and I’m following other sports now,” Dominguez said.
While he may not be a big fan nowadays, Dominguez says if he were to fill out a bracket, he would use a more mathematical approach.
“More of a probability approach where you do the math, base it on stats is how I would approach it,” Dominguez said.
Most people don’t tend to go with that approach when it comes to picking teams, but rather with a more emotional one. Where they pick the teams they’ve bet on, their hometown, or even just a guess. However, Dominguez hopes to one day use his strategy.
“I wouldn’t mind giving my opinion in March Madness next year. Everyone has their own opinion,” Dominguez said.
Despite the fact that many students don’t have an interest in college basketball themselves, Broom likes to “strongly encourage” that they fill out a bracket, without making it strictly mandatory.
Students enjoy the friendly competition and excitement of the games.

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The math of march madness