I beat Bing Predicts!
Out of 65 games, I won 40 compared to Bing's 38. Of course, we shared some defeats. Both of our picks to win the national title fizzled out well ahead of Monday night's championship game.
Still, I held out hope thinking I had a chance. I can shout out my victory over Bing from my patio and when I do I can hear the fight song of Iowa, my alma mater.
"I'll admit, you did well," said Walter Sun, a Bing Predicts data scientist, after tallying up the totals on Thursday. "You beat us with your picks."
Look, there isn't an exact science to all of this. Sure there's some skill involved. But mostly, we're relying on luck when we fill out our (sometimes multiple) brackets. And it doesn't matter because it's March Madness and the NCAA hoops tourney is one of the biggest sporting events in the US.
We'll watch it any way we can. Prior to Saturday's Final Four matchup, basketball nuts had watched a record-setting 88 million live streams of tournament games compared to 67 million at this time a year ago. That's a 31 percent increase.
"I guess this means fans want to watch their favorite teams and see how their brackets are doing, no matter where they're at," Mio Babic, founder of iStreamPlanet, the live-streaming arm for Turner Sports, told me. iStreamPlanet is streaming all 67 tournament games on 15 platforms.
If you have a winning bracket, you get bragging rights for a year. That gives me 52 weeks to enjoy besting a machine run by a software giant. Neither of us, however, will get the big prize -- picking the champion -- because neither Bing nor I had a team in Saturday's Final Four matchups. No Gonzaga, South Carolina, North Carolina or Oregon.
In case you're interested, Bing picked last year's champion, Villanova, giving it a 74 percent chance to repeat. I settled on Duke to win its second title in three seasons. (Vegas had Duke as a 5-to-1 favorite to win, compared to 8-to-1 for Villanova.)
Here's what our brackets looked like:
Bing's Sun was quick to remind me that I didn't take South Carolina, the Cinderella team of this year. The Gamecocks beat Duke in the second round.
Guess what, though? Bing picked that game wrong, too.
"I think the main takeaway is our original brackets weren't that great," said Sun as we reached agreement.
Despite our brackets taking a beatdown, Sun said Bing fared quite well in ESPN's Tournament Challenge Second Chance, where fans could take another whack at picking a winner, filling out a bracket from the Sweet 16 teams.
Bing had a perfect bracket entering the Final Four among a field of nearly 3 million brackets competing.
And instead of the Redmond, Washington-based company staying close to home by picking Spokane's Gonzaga to win Monday night, Bing went with the underdog South Carolina.
"We think South Carolina has a viable chance," Sun said last week. Ah, so that's it. Bing went from predicting the overwhelming favorite in its original bracket to picking the least likeliest team to win the national title.
Well, Bing came up short again, as South Carolina lost to Gonzaga on Saturday. Ouch! The Zags will now play North Carolina, which beat Oregon in a nail-biter Saturday to play for the title Monday night. Guess it goes to show you that picking a winning bracket is tough. Really tough.
Meanwhile, I'll just be over here savoring my own close victory.
First published April 1 at 5:00 a.m. PT.
Updated April 3 at 6:32 a.m. PT: Added results from the Final Four.
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