March Madness Power BI Dashboard

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to learn something new. I’ve always loved business intelligence and bringing data to life in the form of dashboards and charts so for the 1st half of the year I wanted to focus on Microsoft’s Power BI. I’m not going to explain what Power BI is, but if you want to read up on it go here:

This post is just going to show off my dashboard. 😊 See live example above.

I’m a huge sports fan and the best time of the year happens to fall in March. Besides my birthday being in March, it’s also March Madness. Hours and hours of basketball. I could of used AdventureWorks for my dataset, but I wanted to use something I’m interested in. I found some data containing every NCAA tournament game result since 1985 (when the tournament was expanded to the 64 team bracket). The dataset contains the year, round (1-6), seed of the teams (1-16), region (1-4) and the scores. Perfect. Let’s use this to create a dashboard.

There’s not a ton of data, but I used what I could and tried to answer some questions around wins and upsets. Here’s a screenshot of the final product:

March Madness Power BI Dashboard

You can see Wins By Team (Duke with 93, North Carolina with 78, etc), Wins by Seed, National Championships, and Upsets vs Wins by Year. You can also see that a total of 2142 games have been played with 199 different teams in the tournament.

This was really fun and answers a lot of the questions I was thinking in my head while designing. The top left corner also has slicers which help filter the data. For example, if I wanted to see only the data for 2015 I could change the Year slicer to 2015 and it would update all my visualizations:

March Madness Power BI Dashboard filtered by year 2015

You can see that Duke won the National Championship from the National Championships visualization. If you hover over the Wins and Upsets visualization, you’ll see there were 30 upsets out of 63 games.

Let’s say I want to view data for a certain Team. Let’s choose Alabama Crimson Tide. If I change the Team slicer to Alabama I can see some data based around this team.

March Madness Power BI Dashboard filtered by team Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama has won 19 NCAA tournament games, 0 national championships, has been a 5 or 7 seed 21% of the time and they’ve had a few upsets along the way. Not bad for a football school.

What about data for the National Championship game? I can change the Round slicer to 6, which is the National Championship round and view the data this way.

March Madness Power BI Dashboard filtered by Championship game

I can see out of 34 games, there has only been 16 different teams make the National Championship. Duke leads the way with 6, followed by North Carolina and Connecticut with 4. The 1 seed has played in this game 59% of the time, and there were upsets in 1988, 1990, 1997, 2003, 2006, and 2016.

We can also click on the visualizations themselves to view data. For example, if we reset our slicers to show all data and click on the #1 seed in the Wins By Seed Donut Chart we see the following:

March Madness Power BI Dashboard filtered by #1 seed

We can see that the #1 seed has played in 419 games with a total of 41 different teams. Duke has won 51 games as the #1 seed while North Carolina has won 46. Duke has also won the National Championship 4 times as the #1 seed and in 1999 the #1 seed won 17 games which is the highest.

Really cool stuff. I loved working on this project and working with this data.

Change SQL Collation without reinstalling SQL

I ran into an issue where SQL Server was installed with the wrong collation and a lot of user databases were already attached. I could easily backup the databases, uninstall, reinstall, and restore the databases back, but this could take literally all day. There is a better and much faster way to make this change. This post will go over it….

First, backup all databases (duh)

Next, we’ll verify the current collation. On this server it’s set to Latin1_General_CI_AS and I want to change it to SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS.

Next, we’ll double check and make sure we have backups of all databases 😊

Open SQL Configuration Manager and turn off all SQL Services:

Open Command Prompt (as administrator) and browse to the BINN directory and type the following command.

sqlservr -m -T4022 -T3659 -q”SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS”

-m – starts SQL Server in single user admin mode
-T4022 – bypasses all startup procedures
-T3659 – undocument trace flag. enables logging of all errors to the errorlog during startup
-q – new collation

Before hitting Enter, let’s triple check and make sure those backups exist.

Hit Enter.

SQL will run through its startup routine:

Voila. Recovery is complete.

Close Command Prompt and start the SQL services back up.

Back in SQL Server Management Studio, verify that the collation has changed.

Create Azure Windows VM

Creating an Azure Windows VM seems pretty easy, but there are a lot of settings to be careful of before hitting the Create button. In this post, we’ll go over some of those so the next (or first) time you create an Azure VM, you’ll be ready!

Here we go….

Log into the Azure portal and click Virtual Machines and Create Virtual Machine:

Azure VM 1

Note: I’m using a free trial.

Under the Basics tab, there are a few options. Let’s start at the top.

Subscription: An Azure subscription is the agreement with Microsoft to use Azure, for which charges accrue. You can create multiple subscriptions to separate billing or management.

Resource Group: A container that holds related resources for an Azure solution. The resource group includes those resources that you want to manage as a group. You decide how to allocate resources to resource groups based on what makes the most sense for your organization.

Virtual machine Name: The identifier and host name for the VM.

Region: The region in which your VM will reside. To see more go here:

Availability Options:

  • No infrastructure redundancy required: No High Availability.
  • Availability Zone: VM’s are in a different physical location within an Azure region. This offers 99.99% SLA.
  • Availability Set: A group with two or more virtual machines in the same Data Center is called Availability Set, this ensures that at least one of the virtual machines hosted on Azure will be available if something happens. This configuration offers 99.95% SLA.

Image: The base Operating System for the VM. The following Windows versions are supported.

Azure VM 2Size: This is the size of the VM. Here’s a good chart to use when sizing. Remember, pricing! Another cool thing with Azure is that you can resize pretty easy by shutting down the VM, resizing it, and restarting. Of course, this depends on your region and availability options.

Azure VM 3

There’s also a free tool on the web that will help you size your VM based on certain resources.

Username: The administrator username for the VM

Password: The administrator password for the VM

Public inbound ports: Ports that are accessible from the public internet.

Already have a Windows license?: You can save money if you already have a Software Assurance license or an Active Windows server subscription.


In my example, I’m using a Free Trial, so that’s the only option for Subscription. For Resource Group, let’s create a new group (by clicking Create New), named SQLFreelancerRG.

I’ll name my VM SQLVM, put it in the East Region, with no redundancy and a fresh copy of Windows Server 2016 DataCenter.

Azure VM 4

Next, I’ll size this VM with the Standard DS1 v2, which is going to give me 1vCPU and 3.5GB RAM. I’ll create an Administrator account, allow no ports from the public internet and choose No for the Azure Hybid Benefit.

Azure VM 5

The next page is all about the Disks.

OS disk type: This is type of disks we can use for the VM. Let’s look at Standard vs. Premium:

Azure VM 6

You can also create and attach a new disk or attach an existing disk (from snapshot of another disk or BLOB storage)

In my example, I’ll use a Premium SSD disk and I’ll create a second disk called SQLVM_DataDisk_1.

Azure VM 7

The next page gets into a little Networking.

Virtual Network: A virtual network enables VM’s to communicate privately with each other, and with the internet.

Subnet: The subnet is the range of IP addresses in the Virtual Network.

Public IP: Public IP addresses allow Internet resources to communicate inbound to Azure resources. Public IP addresses also enable Azure resources to communicate outbound to Internet and public-facing Azure services with an IP address assigned to the resource. The address is dedicated to the resource, until it is unassigned by you. If a public IP address is not assigned to a resource, the resource can still communicate outbound to the Internet, but Azure dynamically assigns an available IP address that is not dedicated to the resource.

NIC network security group: Security rules in network security groups enable you to filter the type of network traffic that can flow in and out of virtual network subnets and network interfaces.

Public inbound ports: Ports that are accessible from the public internet.

Accelerated Networking: Enables low latency and high throughput on the network interface.

Load Balancing: Azure Load Balancer delivers high availability and network performance to your applications. A load balancer can be configured to balance incoming Internet traffic to VMs or balance traffic between VMs in a VNet. A load balancer can also balance traffic between on-premises computers and VMs in a cross-premises network, or forward external traffic to a specific VM.

For this post, I’m just going to use the defaults and move forward.

Azure VM 8

Next up is Monitoring.

Boot diagnostics: As VMs boot, the boot diagnostic agent captures boot output and stores it in Azure storage. This data can be used to troubleshoot VM boot issues.

OS guest diagnostics: Allows you to get metrics every minute for your VM. You can use them to create alerts and stay informed.

Diagnostics storage account: The storage account in which your diagnostics are stored.

System assigned managed identity: Managed identities for Azure resources provides Azure services with an automatically managed identity in Azure Active Directory. You can use this identity to authenticate to any service that supports Azure AD authentication, without having credentials in your code.

Enabled auto-shutdown: Configures your VM to automatically shutdown each day.

Enable backup: Auto backup for your VM.

I’m going to keep defaults and click Next.

Azure VM 9

The next page is Guest Config where you can add additional configuration, scripts, agents, or applications via VM extensions. Click Next.

Tags are name values pairs that enable you to categorize resources and view consolidated billing. Think of this as Twitter hashtag.

Last page is Review and Create. This is the page that displays a summary of our selections including price per hour of uptime. You’ll also notice at the bottom there is a link that will allow you to download a template for automation. This will allow you to use the same specs that you created for this VM on other VM’s. Click Create to build your new VM.

Azure VM 10

If you click on the Notification Bell at the top of the portal, you’ll see that Deployment is in progress.

Azure VM 11

Once the VM is created, you can click Virtual Machines from the Favorite Bar and view your newly created VM:

Azure VM 12

If you click on the new VM it will bring up the Overview page (along with tons of other pages to choose from).

Click on the Networking tab and Add inbound port rule. Under Destination Port Range type 3389 and under Name type RDP inbound. This will allow RDP access.

Azure VM 13

Click Connect and Download RDP file to remote into the server.

Azure VM 14