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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | April 7, 2019

Final Four predictions from Siri, Alexa, Bing, Adobe Analytics, and a Magic 8 ball

Virginia's Tony Bennett loose ahead of title tilt

If this year’s NCAA tournament has shown us anything, it’s that humans are very bad at predicting March Madness games. The average score in our Bracket Challenge Game is just 67.1 points out of a possible 128 so far. 

MORE ON PICKS: Only .02 percent of people correctly predicted the 2019 Final Four

But machines are well on their way to taking over everything that humans can do, so let’s let them take it from here with brackets, too. We asked some of the most popular artificial intelligence personalities who they think will win in the Final Four.

Alexa:

“Since my pick, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are no longer in it, I’m going with the Virginia Cavaliers to win it. Alrighty, let the Madness continue.”

Just like 11.7 percent of the millions of brackets entered into our Bracket Challenge Game, Alexa chose Gonzaga to win it all. Texas Tech got in the way of that prediction, knocking off the Bulldogs in the Elite Eight. This is so sad. Alexa, play One Shining Moment.

ASK THE PEOPLE: Who the world picked to win in the Final Four

Siri:

Apple’s AI was a bit stubborn. When asked who would win the NCAA tournament, who would win March Madness, and who would win the NCAA tournament championship, Siri only felt comfortable making a prediction for the first game of the Final Four: Virginia vs. Auburn. The AI didn't exactly make a pick there either, but they did cite Virginia's better record over Auburn, so we'll count that as a prediction. Not a lot to go on, but sometimes simpler is smarter.

Bing:

Instead of using Microsoft's Cortana AI, we turned to their search engine, which has been predicting games for the past few years.

Bing predicts uses data from search, social, and historical statistics to forecast each game in the NCAA tournament. It only works on matchups that are set, so while we did get predictions for the two semifinal games, we’ll have to wait until Sunday to see who the Microsoft search engine predicts for the championship.

As for those semifinals, Bing gave Virginia a 53 percent chance to beat Auburn, and Michigan State a 56 percent chance to beat Texas Tech.

But the model is coming off of a rough performance in the Elite Eight, where it went 1 for 4. In that round, Bing predicted Gonzaga to beat Texas Tech (69 percent chance), Virginia to beat Purdue (59 percent chance), Kentucky to beat Auburn (55 percent chance), and Duke to beat Michigan State (54 percent chance). Not a great look.

Tom Izzo's Spartans' belief in each other key to Final Four

Adobe Analytics:

Adobe Analytics combined player and team data to help you “Hack the bracket” again this year. Last season, Adobe’s model powered a bracket that finished in the 98th percentile. Not bad.

Here’s what the model said for the final three games of the tournament:

Virginia will defeat Auburn, with 58.7 percent probability.
Michigan State will defeat Texas Tech, with 56.8 percent probability.
Virginia will defeat Michigan State, with 54.2 percent probability.

That at least looks very official.

FINAL FOUR 2019: Predictions and previews of the key matchups

Magic 8 ball:

No survey of AI would be complete without polling the original artificial “intelligence.” The first household inanimate object made for answering life’s toughest questions: The Magic 8 ball. 

But of course, we needed some trickier methodology for this one. Since the Magic 8 ball does not deign to answer anything other than yes/no questions, we asked it a series, eliminating teams that received negative answers.

Magic 8 ball, will ____ win the national championship?

  • Auburn: Most likely
  • Virginia: Don’t count on it
  • Texas Tech: It is certain
  • Michigan State: Without a doubt

Sorry, Cavaliers. The sphere has spoken, and you’re out. Moving on.

Magic 8 ball, will ____ win the national championship?

  • Auburn: Outlook not so good
  • Texas Tech: Without a doubt
  • Michigan State: It is certain

Auburn bows out in the second round, while Michigan State and Texas Tech switch responses. We’re neck-and-neck here. Hold on to your hats. The final round:

Magic 8 ball, will ____ win the national championship?

  • Texas Tech: You may rely on it
  • Michigan State: Don’t count on it

And there you have it. The Magic 8 ball — the father of fortune telling, the pop of prophecy, the… something of soothsaying — is riding with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. You heard it here first.

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