Your brackets are officially printed and filled out and you’re ready for the craziness of the college basketball championship tournament that will consume television channels throughout the next two weeks. 67 games of single-elimination basketball is one of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans and one of the most challenging, yet opportunistic, times of the year for technology companies. With 11 million brackets completed on ESPN.com last year alone, the 2015 tournament is set to be the most exciting and innovative yet with emerging technologies working to upgrading the fans’ experience.
Predicting the 68 Teams with Big Data and Analytics
While the brackets are now set, Kaggle, a data scientist community, in partnership with Avnet partner HP, a leader in big data analytics, created the March Machine Learning Mania competition, where participants have been using immense amounts of big data collected throughout the season to try and predict the 68 teams selected to be in the tournament. The data analyzed everything from individual player statistics to geographical factors to social media input.
The first qualifying stage had participants test their analysis against previous years’ tournaments, while the final stage had participants predict the 2015 tournament teams. Winners that successfully used big data analytics to predict the tournament would go on to win a $15,000 prize.
Using Mobility to Enhance the Game Day Experience
In 2014, 13.5 million hours of video were streamed on the NCAA March Madness Live mobile app, a 7% increase from 2013, and that number is expected to continue to rise again this year. The NCAA, in partnership with Turner Sports and CBS Sports, is once again bringing the app back, with a number of new features designed to enhance the mobile viewing experience on smartphones and tablets.
This year for the first time, Turner Sports will utilize YouTube as another medium for the fully-immersive fan experience. The NCAA March Madness channel will host real-time highlights, video recaps, live press conferences and more. Live games will also continue to be streamed on the March Madness Live website.
In-Game Technology Upgrades
It’s not just the fans who will be experiencing new technology upgrades; the latest innovations in replay reviews and timekeeping will go into effect for the 2015 men’s basketball tournament. In an agreement with DVSport and Precision Timing Systems, replays will become more effective and time-efficient when determining the outcome of a play. Traditional replay systems involved three referees huddled around a small courtside monitor to see individual shots. With the new replay process, several angles will be shown immediately, simultaneously.
Precision Timing Systems’ timekeeping will also better align the official game clock to the actual game. Officials can stop the game clock by blowing his or her whistle, and can resume play with a switch on their belt pack. A radio transmitter connects can then stop and start the clock instantly, eliminating the delay caused by scoreboard operator error.
Automated Post-Game News
The role of journalists in the 2015 tournament will also evolve as the Associated Press and Automated Insights will begin to produce data-driven articles generated by computer system, generating more than one billion of these automated articles for large sites, such as Yahoo and Comcast. The Associated Press has used this technology for articles that need to account for a large amount of data and transform it into a readable story. While this technology is by no means a replacement for human-driven content, the innovation is a huge leap forward for filling the gaps and complementing existing tournament coverage.
So whether you’re looking to get an edge in your office pool by using big data and analytics to find your next Butler or George Mason Cinderella story or watching the new replay technology to see if the Kentucky player stepped on the baseline or reading a robot-written post-game analysis, we hope you enjoy the technology that has helped to grow this tournament over the past 77 years.