March Madness: Will Virginia Tech Beat Alabama? A.I. Predicts

It’s balance versus star power as the eight-seed Virginia Tech Hokies take on the nine-seed Alabama Crimson Tide. No one player for the former will necessarily blow you away, but when five players are all averaging double figures, that’s not really necessary.

The heroics of star freshman Collin Sexton have been absolutely necessary for the Crimson Tide, who needed his last-second shot to beat Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference tournament and get a chance to earn their way off the bubble and into March Madness. Now both teams are here, a hive mind of fans predicts who will win.

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 predicted with low confidence that Virginia Tech will move forward in the tournament. The hive mind came to this conclusion with 75 percent of its brainpower, so don’t count out Bama out just yet.

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 9:20 p.m. Eastern in Pittsburgh on TNT.

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