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December 21, 2017

Google Cloud Will Assist With March Madness Brackets

George Leopold

With Amazon Web Services maintaining its dominance n the public cloud market, the price wars of the last few years have given way to new ways of competing with the AWS juggernaut as big data, analytics and machine learning help expand the booming cloud market.

While AWS (NASDAQ: AMZN) moves briskly into data services beyond mere storage and computing, rivals Microsoft Azure (NASDAQ: MSFT), Google Cloud and others also are moving to differentiate their data services in hopes of at least keeping pace as more data moves to the cloud.

In the latest example, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) announced a public cloud partnership this week with the NCAA and media partners. Google Cloud Platform will host decades of historical data on 24 NCAA-sanctioned sports, with particular emphasis on the collegiate sports body’s trove of hoops data.

Touting its BigQuery analytics database and machine learning tools, Google also said it would work with CBS Sports and Turner Sports on a NCAA March Madness project. “Our team will build a data-driven bracketology competition using historic NCAA data that will be integrated with public data sets, and data captured from live broadcasts,” Tariq Shaukat, president of global alliances and industry platforms at Google Cloud, announced in a blog post.

The service will be available ahead of this year’s NCAA basketball tournaments. The web site SportsPro estimates that more than 60 million Americans fill out March Madness brackets each year.

“We’ll work with Google Cloud’s team to create new ways that fans will be able to access and search data surrounding March Madness and more, and we will continue to discuss data-driven strategies across multiple content platforms that will enhance digital experiences in other areas,” Judd Williams, the NCAA’s chief information officer, noted in a statement announcing the cloud partnership.

The NCAA also said it would use Google’s analytical tools to help determine often contentious tournament selections and seeding. Variables such as strength of schedule are used to determine, for example, which schools make the lucrative Division 1 basketball tournament.

The NCAA said it would used Google’s cloud tools to “create analysis workflows to build descriptive, predictive, and diagnostic outputs that will help objectively determine and analyze the selection and seeding process across men’s and women’s sports.”

The migration of the NCAA’s huge database to the cloud illustrates how all but the most heavily regulated industries are embracing cloud technology.

Gartner, for instance, says worldwide public cloud services will grow 18 percent this year to become a $247 billion business, and that cloud will account for the majority of analytics purchases by 2020. Forrester, meanwhile, pegs cloud growth at 19 percent, and estimates it will be a $162 billion business in three years.

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