We’re still two months away from the craziness that is March Madness, but Microsoft is getting a head start on its predictions for the annual college basketball tournament.
Bing Predicts today launched Arewein.net, a dedicated site that crunches the numbers and provides daily updates on the chances of your favorite team making the Big Dance.
Bing has done this in the past for numerous sports, including last year’s tournament. For 2016, the search engine is partnering with ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams for the prediction engine. From Williams’ blog post today:
The Bing Predicts team takes a look at historical statistics to see which factors contribute to strong teams who make the tournament either automatically or as an at-large bid. The Bing team then built their own power index model, updated daily, which takes in factors ranging from each team’s strength of schedule, opponents’ win/lose record, and even detailed statistical analysis regarding their on-court tendencies such as ball control, rebounding and field-goal percentage. Then, Bing Predicts adds web activity and social sentiment to tune the strengths, capturing real-time information like injuries and line-up changes.
Williams notes that Bing Predicts, which is also predicting this year’s NFL Playoffs, “has a very strong track record when it comes to making forecasts,” citing its 15-0 performance in the knockout round of the 2014 men’s World Cup and that it was “in the top 10 percent of all experts game-by-game NFL picks this year according to the group tracked by NFL Pick Watch.”
However, Bing had a less-than-stellar performance during March Madness last year. It incorrectly predicted 9 of the 32 first round games, and missed 7 of the Sweet 16 teams. It correctly picked two Final Four teams — Kentucky and Duke — but picked Kentucky to win it all instead of Duke, which ultimately beat Wisconsin in the final.
We’ll see if Bing does better this year. I just ran a test for my Washington Huskies, who are 11-4 and undefeated through three Pac-12 games this season. However, Bing doesn’t like UW’s chances to make the tournament because of “poor assists differential this season.”
My bias aside, not so sure about that prediction, Bing.
Here’s Williams explaining the technology behind Bing Predicts: