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UConn professor scores $2.5M fantasy football win on concepts he teaches


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    STORRS, Connectitcut (Hartford Business Journal) — A University of Connecticut business professor’s students may start paying closer attention in class after he won $2.5 million in fantasy football using data analytics techniques he teaches.

David Bergman, a UConn School of Business professor who specializes in data science and business analytics, won a DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports World Championship last weekend. He came out first in a field of 200 football bettors, who each selected a collection of nine NFL players to try to outscore the other opponents’ picks.

Bergman, who has published articles on data-driven optimization and sports analytics in top journals, says part of his success was in selecting three players outside the typical tournament favorites, allowing him to distinguish his entry and rise through the ranks.

“To me, it’s a very cool math problem,’’ Bergman said. “Top-ranked players might use a combination of game theory, predictive modeling, machine learning and optimization for selecting entries. Of course, on any particular day, you’re also flipping a coin; there’s always luck involved.’’

Bergman’s victory is the most lucrative application of the concepts he teaches, but it’s not the first. In recent years he’s used modeling to help friends make seating arrangements at weddings using data about guests, and to help organize a fundraiser for a nonprofit at Yankee Stadium in New York.

While sports betting isn’t legal in Connecticut, a state budget passed in 2017 by former Gov. Dannel Malloy included a fee on fantasy sports betting, which amounted to de facto legalization of fantasy sports.

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