SOUTH BEND - A University of Notre Dame graduate business student has won first prize in the 2019 NBA Hackathon. Peter Zanca and teammate C.B. Garrett competed in the basketball analytics track of the annual contest, winning lunch with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, tickets to an NBA game and a gift card to the NBA Store.

The challenge calls students, statisticians, developers and engineers to solve challenging data problems faced by the NBA by creating innovative tools.

Zanca competed in the Hackathon final round Saturday with Garrett, a recent graduate of Syracuse University. The competition was held at the NBA office in New Jersey.

 “Our research project was ‘Challenge Accepted: Identifying Optimal Cases for Exercising NBA Coach’s Challenges,’” said Zanca. "My partner and I used an expected value approach to model the expected points gained on different types of calls that can be challenged under the NBA’s newly implemented coach’s challenge.”

The judges for the basketball track were Cathy Engelbert, WNBA commissioner and former CEO of Deloitte; Nate Silver, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight; Charlie Rohlf, senior director of basketball technology and products for the NBA; and Phil Chang, senior manager of basketball analytics for the Los Angeles Lakers.