UT Tyler professor explains how sports analytics could predict Super Bowl 53 winner

Associate professor Rob Schumaker references Twitter data which suggests which team is more...
Associate professor Rob Schumaker references Twitter data which suggests which team is more likely to win Super Bowl 53.(Courtesy: Photojournalist Jeff Chavez)
Updated: Jan. 30, 2019 at 12:23 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - There may not be a surefire way to predict the winner of Super Bowl 53, but a University of Texas at Tyler associate professor said there may be a way to statistically get as close as possible: sports analytics.

“Sports analytics is looking at the patterns, trends, and tendencies in sports data that could be used as a competitive advantage,” said Rob Schumaker, associate professor of computer science at UT Tyler.

Take New England Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady for example: someone using sports analytics would look at where Brady passes on the field, the percentages of pass attempts to specific sections of the field, or identify who his favorite receivers are and how often he targets them on 3rd and 4th downs.

“You’re calculating out these percentages trying to figure out what the likeliness is of him passing to that certain zone, and as a defense, you can use those percentages as a form of competitive advantage," said Schumaker.

It’s already a practice used in professional sports for more than just competitive advantage. Athletic trainers, for instance, could also use sports analytics to predict the likelihood of injury, Schumaker said.

Of course, this competitive advantage means a great deal to many people sitting at home on game day.

“One of the things I do here is look at sports wagering... in particular, Twitter data," Schumaker explained. “And based on whether the tweets are positive or negative, I can start to make assumptions as to how crowds are predicting the game outcome."

Schumaker looked at data collected through 5 p.m. Tuesday. As of that time, sentiment leaned positively towards the Los Angeles Rams, suggesting that the Rams would win the Super Bowl.

“This also has about 59.8 percent accuracy, so it’s absolutely fascinating to see that Twitter has predictive value in sports,” Schumaker said.

The data analytics lab is a research and teaching lab, where students can learn not only sports analytics, but mine data related to healthcare and pharmatics. Schumaker said the college offers various courses related to analytics.

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