Q: There are 11 basketball teams in a tournament. Each team plays each other team once. How many games are played?
Explanation 1: This question is really ‘How many ways are there to choose 2 teams from a total of 11 teams, if the order of the teams is not important?’ It’s a combination question. Find the nCr function on your calculator. On the TI-84 Plus it’s in MATH-PRB-3. Type in 11 nCr 2. It’s 55. (There is a longer way to do it by hand, using the formula for nCr.)
Explanation 2: Team A plays one game against each of the 10 other teams. That’s 10 games so far. Team B plays 9 other games (its game against Team A has already been counted). Team C plays 8 other games, … all the way down to the 1 last game between teams J and K. Add: 10 + 9 + 8 + 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 55.