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The biggest upset yet

Professors (left to right) Liz Bouzarth, Kevin Hutson and John Harris have looked at why teams are prone to upsets.

On Friday night, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County defeated Virginia in the NCAA tournament, becoming the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 in the tournament’s history. In an article in The New York Times on Saturday, writer Marc Tracy explained how such a shocking upset could happen. His article included a reference to the work of three Furman mathematics professors—John Harris, Liz Bouzarth and Kevin Hutson—who have studied NCAA tournament upsets. The bottom line? Virginia plays slow, and the fewer possessions a stronger team has in a game, the fewer chances that team has to show its superiority. “It’s the reason,” Harris said, “why you don’t play the World Series in one game.”

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