March Madness: Will Houston Beat San Diego State? A.I. Predicts

The six-seeded Houston Cougars have soundly beaten some real good teams, including higher-ranked tournament teams like Wichita State and Cincinnati. Is that kind of pedigree enough to get them started on a March Madness run?

First things first: They need to beat the San Diego State Aztecs, who pulled off a miracle run through the Mountain West tournament to make it in as an 11 seed. So perhaps they can keep the underdog magic going for at least one more game. A hive mind of fans predicts who wins.

To predict the result of this and other games, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the week’s slate. About 50 college basketball fans worked together as a hive mind to make picks. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a little golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the answer they thought was the most likely outcome. As the users saw the puck move toward a particular outcome, it triggers a psychological response. They readjust their decision-making, building toward a consensus.

Unanimous A.I.

The swarm forecasts with high confidence that Houston will walk away from this game the victors. It came to this prediction with 79 percent of its collective brainpower, which means it thinks an upset is unlikely but not totally out of the question.

Read more from Inverse: The Perfect NCAA Bracket Is A.I.’s Biggest Sports Challenge Yet

Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our previous article explains. For instance, the swarm picked this year’s Oscar winners with 94 percent accuracy. Here’s Unanimous A.I. founder Louis Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk.

The game tips off Thursday on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. Eastern in Wichita, Kansas on TBS.

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