A Mathematician Confronts March Madness

Come the middle of March, a remotely curious college-hoops observer, innocently typing “March Madness” into Google, encounters a swarm of numbers related to the N.C.A.A.’s annual basketball tournament. ... Ken Ono, Member (1995–97) in the School of Mathematics and the author of The Web of Modularity: Arithmetic of the Coefficients of Modular Forms and Q-series, is an avid basketball fan who, as his day job, specializes in number theory. ... Ono has playfully decided that, this year, “the most interesting number in the entire field is seventy-nine.”

“It is the seventy-ninth edition of the madness,” Ono explained recently. “But the number seventy-nine is significant for many other reasons.”

Read more at the New Yorker.