Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barack Obama, Alex Morgan, Ted Juch and March Madness

Well, we know who the Elite 8 are for the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament.  How is your bracket doing?  I'm sitting somewhere between Alex Morgan and Barack Obama.

I've seemed to iron out most of the kinks for using Gdocs to run your blog so I'm posting a small pool that I created below.  There have been a few more feature requests but unfortunately I haven't gotten around to doing them.  This just leaves room for more improvements for next year!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Using TedTournament() vs GoogleTournament()

Google updated their function yesterday and released a template today.  I had nothing to do with the template that was released today but it was a copy of last year's with the year replaced as 2012.  This proof is in 'Full Bracket'!C7 and any of the play-in games if you are curious. So if you want the updates you'll have to use my versions.

That being said, my templates should be functioning correctly.  I've modified the back end so that Google's shortnames match up with Adam Bartlett's guesses at the shortnames.  Therefore, assuming everything flows correctly on Google's end, I won't have to manually update my master spreadsheet.  It will be updated as soon as GoogleTournament() gets updated.

Since this is a Docs blog I'll explain how I automated the back end.  My master sheet before had empty cells where I would update the teams as they won.  This means that if I am not near a computer or internet, you would have to wait and this really wasn't acceptable to me.  Now, my mastersheet combines a vlookup, googletournament, and iferror. I created a table, which I will call "Helper" that lists Google's shortnames in column A and column B has Adam's names.

It looks something like =iferror(vlookup(googletournament(year,"men",round,slot,"statistic,team),Helper,2,FALSE))

This finds the shortname of the team using Google Tournament, matches it up with Adam's version of the shortname and returns Adam's version (which matches our template).  If vlookup fails then it returns blank.  The vlookup only fails with googletournament fails which indicates a game hasn't been played yet.

Anyways, I think my template is more robust that Google's template and easier to use, but the bugs are still being ironed out.  Unfortunately, I can only update my template for any bugs that are found and not your own copies of my template.  I'm trying to make any updates easily translatable.

There was an error in the point calculations, which I should have noticed from the beginning.  There is an extra row in the full template vs the blank template.  This means that my method of assigning points wasn't matching correctly.  I've updated the Points sheet to calculate correctly.  You can either make a new copy of my template or copy and paste D5:F67 from the points tab on my template to yours.  You will have to unhide D:E and then rehide after you make the adjustments. The Single Bracket has also been updated.  Replace G4 on the points tab with: 
=if(F4="TBD",iferror(1/0),indirect("'"&G$1&"'!"&$E4&$D4-1)) <--Drag this all the way down to G66
and I4 with 
=arrayformula(if(len(F4:F)>0,if(G4:G=F4:F,C4:C,0),0)) <--You don't have to drag this.

Next week I'll update the Google Sites template to show how all of this could be displayed through Google Sites.  I'm planning on using 5 brackets in the pool along with Obama's.  Should be fun to see how people match up!

Happy Madness!

The follow links are the same links from my original post:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Update on March Madness Pool Templates (How I fixed it)

It seems that the =googletournament() function will most likely not be updated in time.  For those still wishing to use Google Docs for your own bracket or Pool, however, you still have an option.  I've updated the templates I created to still work.  Instead of getting your information from Googleland you will be getting it from me.  As long as you don't change any grey background fields on the spreadsheets, your brackets will update with the winners automatically, assuming I am near a computer at the completion of a game (I probably will be as I'm a huge basketball fan).

Since this blog is about Google Docs, I thought I might quickly step into that I did on the backend of these templates to make it work.

I decided that my method would be to create a master spreadsheet that I update.  My template then uses =importrange() to pull various ranges from the master spreadsheet.  As long as you have viewing rights to a spreadsheet, you can pull data from it using importrange(). So this should work.

I divided the Full Bracket tab for both the Single and Group Template into 3 sections; the left side of the bracket, the right side of the bracket and the middle.  This way I only had to write 3 importrange() functions. I decided against using one.  Now, the Full Bracket tab is pulling in the data from my master spreadsheet in three sections.  As soon as I update the master sheet, anybody who references my master sheet (anybody using my templates) will see their data update within a few minutes.  The blank bracket templates simply reference the Full Bracket so that we don't end up with a million importrange() function (you can only actually have up to 50).

If anything, the spreadsheets might actually be quicker because 3 importrange() functions should be lighter than a billion =googletournament() functions.

Thanks for being patient.  Hopefully next year Google will be able to fix the function so that it works (I'll make sure of it this time).

Cheers and good luck with your brackets!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March Madness Bracket/Pool Templates

The long awaited Bracket has arrived! See below for links to the template.  You will have to make your own copies. Note: The templates will not work until the field is set and Google adds the information to the =googletournament() function.

Individual Bracket
The individual bracket can be used for you to keep track of your own bracket, or serve as a template to be used in a group bracket pool.  The group will be discussed below.

Full Bracket:
The Full Bracket tab shows what the tournament currently looks like.  You don't make any selections here but this shows how powerful =googletournament() is.  The only editable cells are for choosing men or women and then the year.  This bracket was built with the men's tournament in mind and has not been tested for the women's tournament.

This tab shows you the current points you have won for your picks.  You can choose how many points are given each round.  I recommend using an exponential system as it gets more difficult to predict games that happen later in the tournament.  The exponential system is the default. This tab is also where you apply the tiebreaker.  This number will show up after the final results of the final game.  The tie breaker asks each person to guess at the final score of the championship game.  The actual summed scores for each time in the final game is subtracted from the guesses of the final scores for each time in the final game.  This creates a differential between the actual results and the guessed results.  In the event of a tie, whoever has the smaller differential wins.  The absolute value is taken so there is not a penalty for going over.

Your Bracket:
This is where you make your choices.  Only edit the yellow cells and make sure to choose what you think the final score will be.  The game cells are validated so you can only choose the possible teams.  Make sure you put your name in the name box and email address if you are part of a group.  This will help the pool admin with sending you information.  Note: You will not be able to fully fill out the bracket until the field is completely set.

This sheet is hidden but builds the validation for each team choice.  You can click around to see what it does.  Basically, it looks at the choices you made in the previous round and only allows you to choose one of the possible two teams.  This is an upgrade from the past in that you could type pretty much anything in the cells.

The HELP sheet gives a few helper instructions.

Group Bracket
The group bracket creates a place for many brackets to be analyzed for scoring and competition.  The current bracket has room for 50 brackets.  I'm not sure how many brackets the template can take before becoming slow.  However, if you run into this issue, I would advise making "Groups" and aggregating the Standings tab in a separate Standings spreadsheet to keep track of who is winning.  I'll comment on doing that below.

Full Bracket:
This tab is the exact same as in the single bracket template.

Bracket Participants:
Use this sheet to indicate who is participating in your pool.  You will only need to update the Name column. Make sure to include First and Last name or some sort of identifying to make sure that everyone in the pool has unique usernames.  This is important for scoring purposes.  The name that you put here must match the name of the tab that corresponds with the person.  For example, if Big Bird was in our pool we must type Big Bird on the Bracket Participants tab and the bracket corresponding to Big Bird must say exactly Big Bird's Bracket.

Standings sorts all of the pool participants by score and then by differential.  As a reminder, the absolute value of the differential is taken so there is no penalty for going over.  You don't need to touch anything on this tab.

If there is a tab that is going to bog things down, it will be this tab.  This tab scores the brackets by grabbing all of the important information from each bracket and scoring it against the actual results of the tournament by assigning points for correct guesses.  If you would like to change the point values for each round you can do it here in column C.  You should only update the cells with a yellow background.  This sheet uses the indirect() function to search through the Spreadsheet for a bracket that matches a name from the Bracket Participants tab.  This is why the tab name of the individual must match exactly the name in the participants.  If this tab starts bogging down the entire spreadsheet, see below for some tips.

This tab provides simple help information about the group version of the spreadsheet.

Blank Bracket:
Here is a blank bracket for using one method of setting up the pool.  I will now discuss two methods below.

Setting up your pool Method 1
The first method for setting up your pool requires you to make multiple copies of the blank bracket tab.  You will need a copy for each participant in your pool.  These tabs much be renamed for the participant and match the name exactly in this format "[Name]'s Bracket". I suggest using unique identifiers or first name and last name.  Once you have this set up for each person in your pool, you will need to share this spreadsheet with them.  You can either share the entire spreadsheet and hope that users don't edit other's brackets or use tab level permissions (click on the down arrow for the tab and go to Protection to choose who can edit the tab) and allow only the user whose name is on the tab to edit the tab.  I would suggest this method for those who have a few people in the pool (<10 or so).  Once everyone has set up their bracket you can change the editing rights to view only for all collaborators so that they cannot change their results.
Update: You will not be able to use the Helper for validation on the Blank Bracket.  If you use this method your participants must type the short name for the team you choose to win.  Therefore, as a bracket admin someone must make sure each choice is a legitimate choice.  This is a disadvantage to Method 1.  Thanks to Hells_ for pointing this out!

Setting up your pool Method 2
If you have a lot of people in your pool you might consider having multiple Group brackets and requiring your pool participants to fill out their own single bracket and share it with you.  The steps for achieving this are as follows:

  1. Share the Single Bracket as view-only (or link them to the single bracket template above)
  2. Ask them to make a copy of this sheet and rename accordingly (they will have to be signed into a Google Account)
  3. Have them fill out the bracket and rename the "Your Bracket" tab with their name
  4. Once they have completed the bracket, they must share it with whoever is running the group pool
  5. Once shared, the pool admin must open the shared bracket, select the tab that shows their choices and choose "Copy to..."
  6. Select the group bracket as the target location of the copy.
  7. Open the group bracket and you will see a "Copy of [Name]'s bracket"
  8. Rename the tab as "[Name]'s Bracket" and add their name that matches their bracket name to the list of participants.
  9. OPTIONAL: Share the Group bracket with this person.
  10. You're Done! Now watch the tournament!
  1. If the spreadsheet becomes bogged down, create multiple group spreadsheets and assign people to a group alphabetically.  For scoring, you can then create a separate spreadsheet that uses importrange() to grab the Standings tab from each group.  You can use vmerge() from the scripts gallery to join the data or lock the ranges to grab only x amount of rows.  Then you can use a filter() or query() on your data to find out who is winning.  See a template below for doing that.
  2. If the spreadsheet becomes bogged down considering copying and pasting values only on the Points tab.  Since the Points tab grabs the winning choices from the individual brackets you really only need to do this once.  After the brackets are "locked" you can get rid of all of the indirect() functions by copying and pasting values only.  Just know that any changes you make to an individual bracket will not be updated on the points.  But this shouldn't matter because people shouldn't be making changes to brackets after the tournament has started.

Final Thoughts
This might seem somewhat complicated but I think it really shows the power of having a spreadsheets online, collaboration, custom functions, and integration with other Google products.  I'm running a pool where I created a Google Site to hold all of the information using Method 2.  I've included a link to an example site that will be created once the tournament gets going.  Enjoy!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.  I also might hold a Hangout on Wednesday night CST to entertain any questions or just talk about how this works.  Add me to a circle on Google+ to learn more about that.

...and since I'm from St. Louis...GO BILLS!