Bracketcast NCAA 2009
Version Reviewed: 1.0
iPhone Integration [rating:2.5/5]
User Interface [rating:2.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:1/5]
Come this time of year, I am in Sports Nirvana. Along with all of the other games going on right now, college basketball has me ensconced in its adrenaline-fueled embrace, and with March Madness set to begin in just a few days I'm always looking for an edge when it comes to filling out my bracket.
Enter Bracketcast. Bracketcast is an NCAA Basketball tournament prediction application that leverages Accuscore's number-crunching computers to render the results of each game. When you launch the app, it pulls in Accuscore's analysis and then displays the winners of each round on separate tabs.
As far as the user interface, the application does a straightforward, albeit lackluster, job of rendering the statistics. Game results are divided into regional tabs along the bottom, and then you can move through each round of the tournament with the buttons at the top. Each page displays a predicted final score for each match-up, as well as odds of victory by percentile. If you feel that a team may pull an upset, you can tap any match-up to switch who will win, and Bracketcast will re-analyze all of the results based on the changes that you've made. As the tournament progresses, Bracketcast will update with new results for each successive game.
To get an idea how Accuscore gets their numerical forecasts, here's a quote from the Accuscore website:
"AccuScore creates virtual players using over 30 different attributes then we put those players on a team which also has attributes such as coaching tendencies, then we let them play a game, one play at a time. We record every possible statistic then repeat the process, 10,000 times. The AccuScore simulation engine even factors in things like wind, rain, snow, field type, injuries. You name it, it's taken into account."
Sounds incredible, right?
The main problem I have with the app, however, is its supposed usefulness. As a tool to fill out the office bracket pool, I don't see this giving you that much of an advantage. Looking over the results that Bracketcast gave me, every single higher-ranked team is predicted to win over every lower-ranked team. If I filled out my bracket based on those statistics, I would be absolutely hammered during the tournament given college basketball's unpredictable nature. Yes, I understand that you can pick your own upsets within the app, but at that point, I'm going off my own knowledge of the game and intuition anyway, so it seems somewhat pointless to be using statistical probability at that point. In addition, once your brackets are filled out for the office pool, Bracketcast pretty much becomes dead in your hand since I'm sure your office buddies aren't going to allow you to change your selections.
If you're using the software to gamble and place bets for each game online or via various established means of betting on sports, then I can see Bracketcast being a tad more useful. However, if you are a serious sports gambler, you probably are already using an online tool to give you an edge anyway. Also, given that there is not much to the app to begin with, the art design could have benefited from some interesting eye candy rather than the bland "hey I just learned the iPhone SDK last week" feel I get from it.
Stay away sports fans - for casual bracketheads this app is useless, and serious gamblers already have better online tools.