March MATHness

Learn 3 popular sport ranking methods and how to create March Madness brackets with them. Let math make the picks!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (304 ratings)
9,454 students
March MATHness
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (304 ratings)
9,454 students
By the end of the course, you will be able to rank sports teams using 3 popular sports ranking methods and create brackets for March Madness.
In this course, you will learn how to rank using winning percentage, the Colley method, and the Massey method, and how to adapt each ranking method to integrate momentum.


  • The software supplied with the course uses Java applets available on the Internet and Java applications that can be run on one's won computer. Your browser or computer must be set up to run such programs.


A Faculty Project Course - Best Professors Teaching the World

Every year, people across the United States predict how the field of 65 teams will play in the Division I NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by filling out a tournament bracket for the postseason play. Not sure who to pick? Let math help you out!

In this course, you will learn three popular rating methods two of which are also used by the Bowl Championship Series, the organization that determines which college football teams are invited to which bowl games. The first method is simple winning percentage.  The other two methods are the Colley Method and the Massey Method, each of which computes a ranking by solving a system of linear equations. We also learn how to adapt the methods to take late season momentum into account. This allows you to create your very own mathematically-produced brackets for March Madness by writing your own code or using the software provided with this course. 

From this course, you will learn math driven methods that have led Dr. Chartier and his students to place in the top 97% of 4.6 million brackets submitted to ESPN!  See more:

Math Improves March Madness Predictions 

Bracketology 101 

Who this course is for:

  • This course starts with fractions and moves on into linear systems (linear algebra). If you are new to linear algebra, you may or may not find the "more math" lectures helpful on the Colley and Massey methods.
  • The activities are designed to deepen everyone's knowledge. The software that is supplied does not rely on any knowledge of linear algebra. Put in your numbers for modeling momentum and you are ready to create your sports ranking!

Course content

11 sections • 19 lectures • 2h 0m total length
  • Course Overview


Associate Professor of Mathematics - Davidson College
Tim Chartier
  • 4.4 Instructor Rating
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  • 59,853 Students
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Tim Chartier is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Davidson College. He is a recipient of a national teaching award from the Mathematical Association of America. Published by Princeton University Press, Tim coauthored Numerical Methods: Design, Analysis, and Computer Implementation of Algorithms with Anne Greenbaum. As a researcher, Tim has worked with both Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories on the development and analysis of computational methods targeted to increase efficiency and robustness of numerical simulation on the lab’s supercomputers, which are among the fastest in the world. Tim’s research with and beyond the labs was recognized with an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

Tim serves on the Editorial Board for Math Horizons, a mathematics magazine of the Mathematical Association of America. He also on the Advisory Board of YourMusicOn (YMO), a mobile music startup company and the Advisory Council for the Museum of Mathematics, which will be the first museum of mathematics in the United States and opens in December 2012. Tim has been a resource for a variety of media inquiries which includes fielding mathematical questions for the Sports Science program on ESPN. He also writes for the Science blog of the Huffington Post.

As an artist, Tim has trained at Le Centre du Silence mime school and Dell’Arte School of International Physical Theater. He also studied in master classes with Marcel Marceau. Tim has taught and performed mime throughout the United States and in national and international settings.

In his time apart from academia, Tim enjoys the performing arts, mountain biking, nature walks and hikes, and spending time with his family.

Learn more about Prof. Chartier's teaching, research and presentations with mime and math on his blog.