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Thanks to a grant from the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics, a few Benedictine University students will undertake a deep dive into National Hockey League data to determine if there is an optimal modeling method for ranking team outcomes.
The $25,000 grant was awarded to Dr. Anthony DeLegge, a math professor at BenU, and Dr. Amanda Harsy, a math professor at Lewis University in Romeoville. The two—and their students—will be working together using predictive hockey analytics to find the best method for concluding which team is likely to win any given game.
BenU has a long history of offering research opportunities for math students. Every summer, at least one math professor participates in the Natural Sciences Summer Research Program, taking on a team of one or two students in a project that goes beyond the classroom. “The idea is for students to learn what it means to do ‘real mathematics,’” said Dr. DeLegge. “With these projects, you don’t get the answer from the back of a textbook. You have to be able to defend what you’re doing, and enable someone else to understand it, as well.”
Dr. DeLegge likes to joke that he wanted to pursue the project because he’s tired of watching the Chicago Blackhawks not win the Stanley Cup. In reality, he and Dr. Harsy have a mutual interest in sports analytics, and they chose hockey because there are not nearly as many analytical models for that sport as there are for baseball, basketball and football.
The grant enables Dr. DeLegge to involve two or three students in the project, which is more than he would normally be able to accommodate. Dr. Harsy, too, will enlist a few students, and the BenU and Lewis students will work together to analyze data and determine the accuracy of their models. They will be performing the bulk of their research in spring 2022, and plan to present at a conference in summer 2022.
Research projects like this one enable math students to see the many ways they can apply their chosen area of study, said Dr. William Law, Dean of the BenU College of Science. “There are a tremendous amount of jobs available for people with math backgrounds,” he said.
The project also will involve one computer science student who will write a computer program to analyze the data. “Many of our students have won awards for their projects,” said Dr. DeLegge. “This is an opportunity for a few students to show off their abilities.”
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by yourlocalsecurity.com in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.