Fans brought passion, Bing brought the smarts – how was March Madness for you?

The Bing intelligent bracket experience put Bing Predicts technology to work in perhaps the most challenging arena in sports, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I College Basketball Tournament. With 9.2 quintillion possible combinations, this has been by far one of the most difficult set of predictions we have done to date. And we picked a great year to start: since the NCAA matchups were announced just three weeks ago, March Madness has lived up to its name, with some amazing games, unexpected upsets and nail biting finishes.

For the Bing predictions, we thought we’d go beyond a straight win-loss call this year, and give a peek behind the curtain on some of the deciding factors that the data and our machine learned algorithm told us. Bing Predicts correctly determined that No. 7 ranked Wichita State would beat No. 2 Kansas, noting that we expected Wichita to satisfy key thresholds, which included Wichita scoring >60 (actual: 78), shooting >39 percent from the field (49 percent), and allowing Kansas <46 percent from the field (35 percent).

Even in cases we missed (e.g. Iowa State vs UAB), our upset thresholds were soundly met by the unexpected winner, which included UAB out-rebounding Iowa State (UAB did 52-37) and holding Iowa State to <42 percent from the field (actual: 37 percent), which identified some key reasons for the upset.

But sports is all about results, so how did we do?

Men’s tournament [For the women’s tournament, we are 79% accurate going into the final]:

  • Rd of 64:      24-8 Correct
  • Rd of 32:      11-5
  • Rd of 16:      7-1
  • Rd of 8:       2-2
  • Final Four:   2-1

Using standard scoring with our initial bracket, Bing Predicts finishes in the upper 30%, ahead of many of the brackets created by computer algorithms. Our CEO, Satya Nadella, had a bracket which used Bing Predicts as the baseline with a couple of minor tweaks, including Duke over Wisconsin, and that bracket finishes in the top 0.7% of all brackets.

Fans across the country also came to Bing to follow their teams, relive the key moments, research and share their brackets, and much more. Using Excel’s Power Map, we were able to see the story of NCAA March Madness 2015, as told by you on Bing.

Sports are extremely difficult to predict given the complexities and variables involved.  The actions and performances of a handful of individuals determine who wins.  For the tournament, our models evaluated the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie records in qualification matches and other competitions, and margin-of-victory in these contests.

Thank you for bringing us into your March Madness journey. Next up, get ready, NASCAR fans! Bing Predicts is tackling stock-car racing – prepare for exciting races in the coming weeks!

– The Bing Team