March Madness: Will Villanova Make the Final Four? A.I. Predicts

Villanova basketball player playing a game on the court while wearing a white jersey
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In a year of upsets, the Villanova Wildcats have emerged as perhaps the tournament’s most consistently dominant team. The number one seed has a chance at winning its second championship in three years, and all it has to do is win one more game to make it back to the Final Four.

Their opponent will be the Texas Tech Red Raiders, one of three Big 12 teams vying for a spot in the Final Four. They won a hard-fought game against the Purdue Boilermakers to get here, and now they are in uncharted territory: Texas Tech has never before made the Elite Eight, which means everything from here on out is unprecedented.

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.

Picking before the Sweet Sixteen, the swarm predicted Purdue would beat Texas Tech. It’s questionable how much difference that really makes, considing the hive mind predicts Villanova will win Sunday’s game with high confidence and 87 percent brainpower. Given how good the Wildcats have looked so far, does opponent even matter?

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 Sunday at 2:20 p.m. on CBS.

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