March Madness: Will Villanova Beat West Virginia? A.I. Predicts

Two men playing basketball in the Villanova VS West Virginia game
Villanova Basketball on Facebook

While other top seeds like Virginia and Xavier flamed out of the tournament, and even fellow survive one seed Kansas dealt with a scare from Seton Hall, the Villanova Wildcats have looked every bit like a March Madness juggernaut, winning their opening two games by a combined 49 points.

The team that will look to put a stop to that is West Virginia. The fifth-seeded Mountaineers have only faced double-digit seeds so far but have made short work of both of them, beating Murray State 85-68 and Marshall 94-71. 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 likes Villanova to win here with high confidence and 86 percent brainpower behind the pick. West Virginia has its work cut out for it against the Wildcats.

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 Friday at 7:27 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

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