The road to the Final Four runs through FileMaker

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Look for productivity to dip at offices across the country for the next few weeks. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is underway, and with first round games tipping off Thursday, look for office-bound hoops fans to steer their browsers to scoreboard sites (or perhaps even sneak a peek at live games via their iPhone) in an effort to see if their favorite team—or more likely, their tournament pool picks—are still alive.

Of course, they could have saved some time and just used the FileMaker database software to figure out who’s going to win the whole thing.

That’s what Peter Tiernan has done. A sports and statistics junkie with a Master’s degree in English from the University of Michigan, Tiernan gradually developed a FileMaker 10 database (beginning with FileMaker 2.0 on an old Performa and working through the versions over the years) that includes the results of every NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The database, which hooks into the Bracketmaster online research tools, incorporates factors such as conference affiliation, coaching experience, star power, team makeup, scoring averages, pre-tourney momentum, bench play, scoring balance and playing location.

Once compiled, the stats allow the user to take a historical view that doesn’t rely on knowing the current year’s match-ups and instead focuses on whether one squad will upset the other. Per the new data, the FileMaker database can identify the conditions that historically enable underdog teams to upset higher-ranked powerhouses and help predict the outcome of the current NCAA tournament.

The database, which is migrated over to a MySQL database that’s available online, then allows users make queries, pull records as to which team won and take a longer view as to what to expect from the tournament.

Even with the database incorporating 10 statistical models, things can still be somewhat hit or miss. “There have been years where it’s run very well,” said Tiernan. “And there have been other years where it hasn’t done that well.”

Though things may not be 100-percent perfect, Tiernan believes he’s offering something a bit more in-depth than what most stat services provide: “There’s a do-it-yourself feel to it. This is a tool that allows users to get their hands into the data a bit more.”

So how about this year’s tournament? Who will be cutting down the nets in Detroit on April 6? “My gut says Pittsburgh,” Tiernan said. “The model says Louisville.”

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