The stats. The uniforms. Sheer wild guesses. Everyone has a strategy for making their picks for the NCAA’s March Madness tournament. But this year there’s a new play in the book: machine learning.
Google Cloud has teamed up with the NCAA to host a competition on Kaggle, the world's largest online community of data scientists, challenging participants to build and train machine learning models to forecast the games’ outcomes. Kaggle has hosted contests for the tournament in the past, but this year’s competition is taking things to the next round with a new data set that contains every play-by-play moment in men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball since 2009—more than 40 million plays.
The submission deadline for the competition is this Thursday, prior to the start of the tournament. Submissions will be scored by log loss, a common way of measuring accuracy of machine learning models. A total of $100,000 will be awarded across both the men’s and women’s competitions for the best performing applications of machine learning (which probably outdoes whatever happens in your office pool). And because the competition is based on ML models, not basketball know-how, it’s anyone’s game to win. Talk about a Cinderella story.
The massive data set being used in this competition represents just one area where Google Cloud is teaming up with the NCAA as their official public cloud provider. The NCAA is also in the process of migrating 80+ years of data across 24 sports to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), using Google tools to power analyses of teams and players. But for the data scientists and machine learning enthusiasts participating in the Kaggle competition, the fun is already underway. May the best model survive, advance and take home the championship!
Just in time for the coin toss, we’re here with some ways your Google Assistant can help you prep for game day, as well as some trending recipes state by state.
“Hey Google, let’s make buffalo wings”
The Google Assistant's recipe feature, available on speakers like Google Home, is a host’s best friend: you can send a recipe straight from mobile search or the Assistant on your phone (iPhone and Android) to your speaker. From there, just say “Hey Google, start recipe,” and you can follow hands-free step-by-step directions as you go. You can also ask questions like “what’s a substitute for chipotle chili powder?” or “how many grams of cornmeal in a cup?” and then go right back to the recipe by saying “Hey Google, next step.” Set multiple timers at once and even name them (cornbread, simmer); listen to music and podcasts to get your game face on.
You can also try one of these questions with your Google Assistant to get game day details, highlights and a few surprises:
- “Hey Google, give me a game prediction”
- “Hey Google, coach me”
- “Hey Google, let’s play Lucky Trivia Sports”
- “Hey Google, touchdown!”
And since the Google Assistant is available across devices, you can keep up with the game no matter where you are. If you’re running late to the party, ask the Google Assistant in your Android Auto car for the score. Walking to the corner store to stock up on snacks? Your Assistant on your phone or headphones will have the latest. And if you’re at home looking to fill the time between plays, ask the Assistant on your speaker to play sports trivia.
Now we’re cookingWhether you’re a Philly fan, a New England diehard or just there for the commercials, good food is non-negotiable. With data from the Google News Lab, here’s a look at the most uniquely-searched game day recipes by state. Turns out the two rival teams’ home states are both chowing down on chili, but from “bacon shrimp” in Montana to “calzone” in Kansas to “crab dip” in South Carolina, maybe these unique searches will inspire you to go beyond chips and dip! You can check out more on Google Trends.
BRB, game’s almost starting.
Over two days, the team covered the 160-acres course.
Explore the images on Google Maps, or walk the course like the pros using theHazeltine Explorer, an interactive tour developed by Turner and Ubilabs. Along with 360-degree views, the site, built with Google Maps APIs, features custom elevation graphs for every hole, integrated video highlights and course-specific historical moments.
Fans attending the event can also make use of the Ryder Cup app’s Wayfinding feature, available on Android and iOS. Built using Google Maps APIs, the feature includes a detailed view of the course with routing instructions that account for walking paths and crosswalks. The map also displays information about on-course amenities and facilities.
Source: Google LatLong
Olympics Trends Hub
Throughout the next few weeks, Google Trends will give you a unique view into the games with a new Trends Hub just for the Olympics. There, you’ll be able to see which athletes, events and moments are captivating audiences—and searches—worldwide. For example, which country is searching for beach volleyball the most? Landlocked Switzerland. And the title of most searched grandmother in the world goes to British swimmer Adam Peaty's nan.
Here’s some of what you can expect from Trends over the next few weeks:
- Search insights revealing what the world is wondering about the events—from fencing to synchronized swimming (and every moment in between!)
- Data interactives like our alternative medal table and top searched sports per country
- Trending sports and athletes lists, showing what’s of interest at any given moment
Explore Trends in a new way
As you explore the site, you may notice something else—a new Google Trends Explore page. With a fresh design and features like a color-coded map, you can analyze search data in new ways. For example, you can compare interest in previous Olympic Games over the years:
Every four years, the Olympics captivate the world’s attention. We’re excited to be able to help fans get even more out of the Games with insights from Search.
In celebration of the next chapter in Olympics history, we’re bringing the best our products have to offer to help people around the world stay up-to-date with the Olympic Games Rio 2016:
- Discover the event schedule, medal counts, and athlete information in Search
- Get results and view TV schedules in 30+ countries
- Watch official broadcasters’ event highlights on YouTube in 60+ countries
- Explore Rio and venues in Google Maps
- Keep up to date with the latest search Trends from around the world
To give you a glimpse into the Games, watch official broadcasters’ video highlights on YouTube in more than 60 countries around the world. And as an added bonus, YouTube is sending 15 top creators to Rio, giving you a taste of what it’s like to be there with mobile live streaming.With Street View in Google Maps, everyone can enjoy the magic of Rio de Janeiro. Even if you’re a world away, preview the places where the world's most talented athletes will make history and explore the breathtaking beauty of Brazil.
Great triumphs, victories and stunning surprises await us all this summer. This is just a hint of what’s to come—we hope you’ll let Google be your guide.
We’re always amazed by the power of technology to connect people. Not long ago we heard a story involving the Google Translate app and a boy named Alberto who had recently moved from Spain to a small town in Northern Ireland, with little knowledge of English. When Alberto joined Portadown’s youth soccer club, his coaches Gary and Glen turned to Google Translate to communicate with Alberto and his mother, on and off the field. As they progressed from protección de la pelota to retroceso de bicicleta, Alberto grew to feel a part of the team.
We loved this story (and wanted to share it with you) because what Gary and Glen did was so much bigger than translating sentences from one language into another. They didn’t just find a way to coach Alberto in football—they found a way to invite someone who was on the outside into their community.