Congratulations to NYU SPS Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport’s Smit Bajaj and Viren Bhatia for capturing first place in the undergraduate track of the 2024 NFL Big Data Bowl.
The 2024 NFL Big Data Bowl is an annual analytics competition that challenges the analytics community, from college students to data professionals, to foster statistical, data-driven innovation and contribute to the NFL’s continuing evolution of the use of advanced analytics. This year’s contest focused on leveraging the league’s Next Gen Stats player tracking data to generate actionable, creative, and novel stats to assign value to elements of tackling in football.
While typical defensive statistics only credit one or two players with a play’s result, such as a sack, tackle, or interception, Bajaj and Bhatia’s proposed metrics consider the actions of the entire defensive team on a given play. As one of the top five winning teams, they receive a monetary prize and an invitation to present their work to the NFL community, including coaches, front office personnel, and scouts, at the NFL Combine, the league’s annual evaluation of college football talent.
Competing against 90 peers in their category, Bajaj and Bhatia were the only undergraduate teams named to the top five. “This is an incredible achievement, and we are so proud of what Smit and Viren have accomplished,” said Vince Gennaro, associate dean of the NYU SPS Tisch Institute. “They combined creativity with deep analysis to break through with really innovative work and demonstrated what’s possible when you open yourself up to learn and grow.”
Bajaj said on his LinkedIn profile: “Humbled to be selected - about a year ago, I set a personal goal to learn Python every day and see what would happen. I wanted to just compete in the Big Data Bowl, never thought to emerge as the undergrad finalist.”
“Smit and I entered with the NFL Big Data Bowl, aiming for a valuable learning experience. Yet, what we achieved was nothing short of incredible. Out of 90 talented candidates in the undergraduate track, we emerged first and have been honored with the exciting opportunity to present our work at the NFL Combine in just a few weeks… We're excited to represent NYU at the NFL Combine, and ready to share our insights and findings with the NFL community,” said Bhatia on his LinkedIn profile