Professor picks 'em with computer model

Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Joe Campbell, a business professor at Augusta State University, has created a mathematical model to predict Peach Belt Conference basketball games.

Joe Campbell decided a few months back to pay closer attention to college basketball.

What ensued for the Augusta State business professor was an obsessive quest to try to correctly predict Peach Belt Conference games (men's and women's). Campbell then developed a mathematical model to help with his endeavor.

"I'm pleasantly surprised and somewhat impressed with what this model has done," he said. "I'm more impressed with what Las Vegas oddsmakers do."

Using Microsoft Excel Solver, Campbell's designed a sophisticated program to break down every conference team. In a nutshell, he assigns home and road ratings for every Peach Belt team based solely on the outcome of previous games. Campbell then tinkers with the program a bit, compares two opposing teams and comes up with an outcome.

For the past two months, he's examined and re-examined his model, which uses only scoring results instead of individual performance. Campbell said he believes he's fine-tuned it for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, which begins today at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.

Campbell's model has selected Francis Marion to defeat Georgia College & State by eight in the women's championship game. On the men's side, the model predicts USC Aiken will win by one point over Augusta State in the title game.

"My being an Augusta State fan," he said, "has nothing to do with how this model works."

When his model predicts a team to win by eight or more, it has a 97 percent accuracy rate on the women's side and 93 percent rate on the men's side.

For teams chosen to win by six or fewer points, the model's rate drops to 68 percent for the men and 58 percent for the women.

Overall, his model has correctly picked 86 percent of men's games and 83 percent of women's games.

Campbell, who also has an NBA model, began the Peach Belt project at the start of December. He said his college model wouldn't work at the beginning of the season because of inconsistencies.

"The larger the sample," he said, "the more reliable the statistics."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

today's games

WHAT: Peach Belt Conference Tournament

WHERE: USC Aiken Convocation Center

WOMEN:

- No. 8 UNC Pembroke vs. No. 9 North Georgia, 1 p.m.

- No. 7 Columbus State vs. No. 10 Augusta State, 3 p.m.

MEN:

- No. 8 Lander vs. No. 9 Clayton State, 5 p.m.

- No. 7 Clayton State vs. No. 10 Georgia Southwestern, 7 p.m.