Let’s Use a Chatbot to Fill Out a Bracket (Published 2023) (2024)

We all want to win our N.C.A.A. tournament bracket pools. Could Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot help?

After all, chatbots seem able to do anything these days. The Bing bot is frequently impressive (if occasionally creepy) and is based on the new GPT-4 artificial intelligence system. Unlike its cousin ChatGPT, Bing has access to information about this year’s teams, and it seems more willing to make predictions.

Our colleague Sarah Lyall engaged in a long exchange with Bing about college basketball, but it wouldn’t churn out an entire bracket’s worth of predictions in a single response. So, we asked for its picks round by round, region by region.

What about Duke vs. Oral Roberts?

Duke vs. Oral Roberts: I would pick Duke as they are a No. 5 seed and have been on a nine-game winning streak that included an ACC Tournament title. Oral Roberts is a No. 12 seed and the Summit League Tournament champion, but they have not faced many tough opponents this season. Duke also has an advantage in offensive rebounding and height, which could make it hard for Oral Roberts to keep up with them.

Then we filled out our own bracket, using Bing’s responses. Here’s what it recommended for the men’s bracket:

The bot won’t respond the same way every time, and the phrasing of a question matters. Simply asking which team is more likely to win each game might yield a bracket with no upsets. Instead, we asked Bing to try to win a bracket pool while accounting for potential upsets. We also kept reminding it to use information about this year’s teams, since it would often refer to past seasons or players despite its ability to incorporate more current details.

The resulting men’s bracket did contain upsets, including No. 3-seeded Baylor winning the championship. Here’s how the bot explained its pick of Baylor overcoming the tournament’s top seed, Alabama:

Let’s say that Alabama plays Baylor in the Elite Eight of the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Alabama is a 1-seed, while Baylor is a 3-seed. Make a selection for this game, as if you were filling out a bracket in an office pool, attempting to win the pool while accounting for potential upsets. Be sure to use information about the teams and their seedings in the 2023 tournament, not previous years!

This is a tough one, but I would go with Baylor to upset Alabama and reach the Final Four. Baylor has a lot of experience and toughness, and they have a coach who has won a national title before. Alabama is a very good team that won the SEC tournament and has a high-powered offense, but they might be vulnerable to Baylor’s defense and rebounding.

(Bing also said that Baylor had won two of its previous three meetings against Alabama, but the reverse is true.)

Bing picked a Final Four without any No. 1 seeds; that has happened three times since seeding began (in 1980, 2006 and 2011). Is the bot correct that we’re due for another? Is this a good strategy to win a pool this year? We can only wait and see.

Perhaps wisely, the bot picked a more traditional Final Four in the women’s bracket, where upsets have been less common. And it made the safest possible pick for the winner: undefeated South Carolina.

Let’s Use a Chatbot to Fill Out a Bracket (Published 2023) (2)

The Bing chatbot wasn’t exactly designed to compete with expert forecasts or mathematical tournament prediction models. Microsoft has said that its system has struggled to keep up with live sports information. The chatbot frequently cited outdated or incorrect details about teams, even if its overall impressions seemed valid.

So taking Bing’s advice — with its dash of unpredictability — is probably just as good as other amateur bracket strategies, like picking which teams’ mascots would beat the others.

Speaking of which, we did, in fact, ask Bing which teams’ mascots would beat the others.

South Carolina (Gameco*cks) vs. Norfolk State (Spartans): I think the Spartans would win this matchup. They are trained warriors who can fight with swords and shields, while the Gameco*cks are just roosters who might peck at their ankles.

Purdue (Boilermakers) vs. Texas Southern (Tigers): A boilermaker is a person who makes or operates steam boilers. A tiger is a large and powerful feline predator. In a fight, I think the tiger would win because it is faster, stronger and more agile than a human with a boiler.

Miami (Hurricanes) vs. Drake (Bulldogs): A hurricane wins. A hurricane is a violent storm with strong winds and rain that can cause massive destruction. A bulldog is a medium-sized dog with a wrinkled face and a short muzzle that was originally bred for bull-baiting. In a fight, I think the hurricane would win because it has more force and impact than a dog with strong jaws.

You can be the judge of these judgment calls. (You can also ask similar questions to ChatGPT and get similarly humorous responses; the Bing chatbot is not yet widely available to the public.)

Methodology

All of our conversations were with the Bing chatbot on its “Balanced” conversation style setting. Through experimentation, we crafted queries that would keep the chatbot’s responses in a consistent format, force it to make selections for each matchup, allow it to make upset picks and encourage it to use information about teams’ current seasons (though it often mixed information from this season and previous seasons).

A typical query was formatted as follows:

Hey, Bing. I’ll list the first-round matchups in the South region of the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I have included their seeds in the 2023 tournament. Make selections for each game, as if you were filling out a bracket in an office pool, attempting to win the pool while accounting for potential upsets. Be sure to use information about the teams and their seedings in the 2023 tournament, not previous years!

(1) Alabama vs. (16) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

(8) Maryland vs. (9) West Virginia

(5) San Diego State vs. (12) Charleston

(4) Virginia vs. (13) Furman

(6) Creighton vs. (11) N.C. State

(3) Baylor vs. (14) U.C. Santa Barbara

(7) Missouri vs. (10) Utah State

(2) Arizona vs. (15) Princeton

We recorded the chatbot’s selections for winners in each matchup. Then we took those winners and asked it about the matchups that would occur in the next round of the tournament, given its selections. We repeated this round by round and region by region for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

We asked the chatbot for its picks in the “First Four” games of each tournament before they were played. We advanced its selected winners into the first round of the tournament.

There is no guarantee that the chatbot will make the same selections even when asked the same questions in the same format. And wording questions differently may also produce different results.

Let’s Use a Chatbot to Fill Out a Bracket (Published 2023) (2024)

FAQs

Can ChatGPT fill out ncaa bracket? ›

We Used AI to Fill Out a March Madness Bracket and Predict the Score of Every NCAA Tournament Game. We asked ChatGPT to predict the outcome of March Madness, and it didn't disappoint, providing us with plenty of upset picks and a surprise national champion.

Can ChatGPT fill out a bracket? ›

You can ask it for ideas on how to randomize your picks. You can ask it to fill out a bracket without offering it any parameters or guidance. You can ask it to analyze your loved ones' brackets and then create a unique one for you while writing a limerick about why their choices are bad.

Can AI fill out a bracket? ›

Some are using AI to perfect their codes or decide which qualities of the team can best predict their competitive future. The chances of creating a perfect bracket are extremely low for any competitor, however advanced their tools may be.

How many women's brackets were filled out? ›

This year's tracking on the women's side involved more than four million brackets. The bracket entry "Courtney's COURT 2" in ESPN's online game got the first 50 games correct, a run better than last year, when No. 8 Ole Miss' upset of No. 1 Stanford in the second round ended the run at perfection.

How do you use brackets in ChatGPT? ›

Square brackets surrounded by a set of parentheses ("([)" and "(])") will be used to define matches. 2.2. Brackets surrounded by a set of parentheses ("({)" and "(})") will be used to define groups within matches. The number of brackets determines the group number, starting from zero.

How many ways are there to fill out an NCAA bracket? ›

As such, the number of possible outcomes for a bracket is 2^63, or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That's 9.2 quintillion. In case you were wondering, one quintillion is one billion billions. If we treated the odds for each game as a coin flip, that makes the odds of picking all 63 games correctly 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

Where can I fill out my bracket? ›

You can fill out a bracket virtually through NCAA.com's Official Bracket Challenge. Sign up for free, if you haven't already done so, and start picking a winner for every matchup!

How do you fill out a bracket sheet? ›

You start filling out your bracket by picking the teams you think will win each first round game. From there, you then pick the winners from all the games in your theoretical second round lineup. You repeat this process all the way through the final game. Once the tournament begins, you can't change any of your picks.

What does fill out a bracket mean? ›

The concept is even more visible in college sports, most notably in reference to the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, in which millions of casual and serious fans "fill out brackets"—predict the winners of each game in the tournament—in both formal contests, sponsored by various corporations, and informal ...

Is it OK to write with AI? ›

Overall, while AI can be a helpful writing tool, full human discretion and accountability are typically safest, especially for important projects. As with any new technology, a careful, educated approach to its appropriate use is recommended.

What do brackets do in AI prompts? ›

Brackets can be used to provide additional information or clarity to the AI model. For example, you can use brackets to specify a format or style for the generated content: "Write a 500-word essay about the effects of capitalism [in the style of Allen Ginsberg]."

Can AI predict the NCAA Tournament? ›

Even so, the annual bracket contests still provide plenty of surprises for computer science aficionados who've spent years honing their models with past NCAA Tournament results. They have found that machine learning alone cannot quite solve the limited data and incalculable human elements of “The Big Dance.”

How many people filled out a bracket on ESPN? ›

Surprising wins by Yale, Oakland and Duquesne busted many of the more than 22 million brackets entered in the largest contest, ESPN's Tournament Challenge, and the last three fell on Friday night when James Madison beat Wisconsin 72-61.

Are there still perfect brackets in 2024? ›

2024. The final perfect men's bracket almost made it through the first round, but No. 8 Utah State's win against No. 9 TCU busted the last standing bracket on the 31st game of the tournament.

Are there any perfect men's brackets left? ›

And, in the process, the Aggies busted the final perfect bracket. As the 2024 men's NCAA Tournament enters the second round on Saturday, there are no more perfect brackets remaining among major online platforms (NCAA, ESPN, CBS and Yahoo), according to the NCAA.

How do you create a NCAA Tournament bracket? ›

Create a Bracket on ESPN.com

Begin by logging in to your ESPN.com account. From the Tournament Challenge Frontpage click on the "Create A Bracket" button. A confirmation panel will pop up with options to either Create a Group or Join a Group. Click on the "x" to dismiss the confirmation.

How do you get a NCAA bracket? ›

You can fill out a bracket virtually through NCAA.com's Official Bracket Challenge. Sign up for free, if you haven't already done so, and start picking a winner for every matchup! You can print a bracket here and fill it out by hand, too. Once your bracket is complete, watch those games live on TV.

How do I fill out an NCAA men's basketball bracket? ›

2024 NCAA men's tournament: 10 rules for filling out bracket
  1. Advance one First Four team to the round of 32. ...
  2. Do not predict a 16-over-1 upset. ...
  3. Predict at least one 12-over-5 upset. ...
  4. Eliminate at least one No. ...
  5. Advance at least one double-digit seed to the Sweet 16.
Mar 18, 2024

How to do a NCAA bracket pool? ›

Go to cbssports.com and log in to your cbssports.com account. Once you're logged in, select Create Pool to begin creating your pool. When prompted, create a Pool Name (required), Pool Slogan (optional), select whether you are going to require a password to join your pool, and upload a pool avatar (optional).

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