Google will broadcast real-time analytical predictions during the NCAA Final Four

NCAA

Google has teamed up with the NCAA for this year’s March Madness (it’s apparently the “official cloud” of the tournament), bringing machine learning and statistical analysis to decades of game data. But now they’re going even further, with an audacious real-time experiment that could well blow up in their face.

As a blog post from the Google Cloud team explains, a group of basketball enthusiasts, data scientists, and computer techs set out to analyze the data from 80 years of NCAA games and unleash machine learning on this massive pile of data to uncover trends or facts that might not be readily apparent.

For example, if you’re picking an upset, go with the cats — teams with a feline mascot are more likely to bust your bracket.

If you’re a statistics nerd, this is all interesting stuff, but so far the “Wolfpack” (that’s what the team is calling themselves) has focused on historical data culled from thousands of minutes played. But what if they turned their efforts to anticipating what would happen next?

That’s exactly what they’ll be doing this weekend, and they’ll even be airing their predictions in a commercial set to air during halftime of the Final Four games.

Other sports have been using predictive models for quite some time, of course. For instance, baseball uses WAR (Wins Above Replacement) to estimate how much a player will add to a team’s win total as compared to a hypothetical average player. That’s over an entire season though, with hundreds of at-bats. The Google team is planning to estimate what will happen in the final 20 minutes of a single game, which is a tiny sample size.

During the first half, the team will use all the data they can gather and crunch the numbers up, down, and sideways against historical tournament performances, team tendencies, basic strategies, and anything else they can come up with to produce statistical predictions that they think are highly probable to occur.

On site at the Alamodome in San Antonio, they will then quickly turn their predictions into a television ad, which will be passed on to CBS and Turner to air on TBS just as the second half begins.

They aren’t planning to predict the game winner, so don’t get your bookie on the phone just yet. The predictions could be anything — number of three-point attempts, offensive rebounding percentage, even minutes played.

“One of the exciting things about running an experiment like this in real time is we don’t know for sure what will happen,” the team wrote on their blog. They could be right on the money or wildly off base. Either way, it will be fun for number-crunchers everywhere to watch the results of their experiment unfold in real time.

Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.