Middle Bit: Combining data science with March Madness

A former Simpson College math professor started a competition that challenges Iowa high school and college students to use data science to correctly pick the winner of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

What is ultimately designed to expose students to potential careers in data science, the Basketball Data Analytics Battle requires teams of students to produce an algorithm that will select ten teams in an attempt to pick a winner of the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. The top ten teams the algorithm predicts will earn points based on how far each team advances in the tournament.

Rick Spellerberg, a former math professor at Simpson College math professor, is organizing the competition as the first project for his new nonprofit organization, The Iowa Center for Interdisciplinary Training.

“The big thing with data science, it’s a relatively new discipline and there’s a huge demand for these people,” Spellerberg says. “We have got to get kids interested in coding and that’s one thing for sure this competition can hopefully get students interested in.”

According to Spellerberg, 17 school districts and 360 students are committed to participating in the Basketball Data Analytics Battle.

Spellerberg said to follow up with the participants, he’s going to partner with Drake University to host a data analytics conference on campus in May.

What else is happening…


Automox, a Boulder-based global provider of patch management and endpoint protection solutions, raised $2.0m in funding – FinSEMs

Redeam, a Boulder-based tech company that automates the way tours and attractions process tickets sold by third-party distributors raised $7.7 million in Series A funding – Phocus Wire

Kelly Klee, Inc., an Aspen-based digital insurance broker, raised $4.5m in Seed funding across two closings – FinSMEs


Ascent Technologies, a Chicago-based regulatory technology company, closed a $6m Series A funding round – FinSMEs

Ocient, a Chicago-based builder of database and analytics software, secured about $10m in Series A funding – BuiltinChicago.com


Brian Storey named VP of Business Development for Lenderclose – Lenderclose


Bandura Systems, a St. Louis-based developer of a threat intelligence gateway closed a $3.5m seed funding round – St. Louis Business Journal

Lean Media closes $500K seed funding round – SPN


Future Builders Challenge helps Lincoln students identify their entrepreneurial talents – SPN


Quest Products, a Pleasant Prairie-based provider of consumer packaged goods and e-commerce services, received a majority investment from Promus Equity Partners – FinSMEs