Picking Winner of NCAA Basketball Tournament Using LinkedIn Data

March 18, 2013

The Madness has finally arrived! Upsets! Buzzer-beaters! Stats and predictions! As a data nerd and basketball junkie, this is one of my favorite times of the year, and finally, my two worlds have collided. Today, we’re announcing our pick to win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by analyzing the data of 200M+ member profiles on LinkedIn.

College basketball fans are a dedicated bunch, so we came up with a “dedication score” based on their LinkedIn Profiles to select who we think will be the winner. Here’s the formula:

For each school in the tournament, we calculated

(# of current students and alumni with the word “basketball” in their profile) / (total # of current students and alumni) = Dedication Score

The school with the higher “dedication score” wins their game and advances in the bracket.

And the winner is...

LinkedIn NCAA Champion

[Click to zoom in]

Gonzaga University!

Gonzaga has over 15,700 students and alumni on LinkedIn, and nearly 2.5% of those members reference “basketball” somewhere in their profile. These are folks who volunteer as coaches for youth basketball leagues, work as parking attendants for basketball games, or simply state that they love the game in their profile.

No bracket is complete without Cinderella teams, and ours has many - of which the most Cinderella-y is Valparaiso. With around 14,000 students and alumni on LinkedIn and a “dedication score” of 1.8%, the Crusaders will shock Michigan State, Duke, and Louisville to get into the Final Four.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking “What does this have to do with the basketball team’s performance on the court?” Team Spirit! We believe in the power of willing your team to win. Your chances of picking a bracket 100% correctly are infinitesimally small, regardless of method, so we think the power of willing your team to win is what it will take. So, you could fill out your bracket based on favorite school colors OR you could use our “dedication score.”

College basketball is just one of many ways we choose to stay connected to our schools. To stay connected on LinkedIn, check out our Alumni tool, which allows you to find and connect with graduates of your alma mater.

PS: If you’re like me and can’t get enough basketball data, check out Ken Pomeroy’s basketball statistics site. If you’re also like me, in the sense that you’re lazy and you want math to just tell you who’s going to win it all, check out the work of these four Georgia Tech professors.