How Google used predictive analytics during NCAA's Final Four

Google Inc's logo is seen at an office in Seoul in this May 3, 2011 file photograph. Google Inc will launch a mobile payment system on Thursday, in the latest bid to help consumers pay at the checkout with smartphones instead of traditional credit cards, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on May 24, 2011. This logo has been updated and is no longer in use. Reuters

Taking predictive analysis a step further, Google late on Saturday used the technology to predict in real-time the factors that decided the result of the matches during the Final Four games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Using Google Cloud capabilities and by analysing NCAA data through workflow, Google was able to uncover interesting facts -- everything from who blocked more shots per minute to whether teams with a certain type of animal mascot cause more March Madness upsets.

The company would do the same during the final match between Villanova and Michigan on Monday and "report back once the tournament is over".

On Saturday, Courtney Blacker, Head of Brand Marketing of Google Cloud, in a blog post, said that Google Cloud has been working on an experiment to apply the company's technologies like predictive analytics to look into factors that influence a team's performance.

"We came to embark on a months-long experiment to apply our own technologies to the NCAA's treasure trove of data," Blacker wrote.

"We assembled a team of technicians, data scientists and basketball enthusiasts. Our goal wasn't to predict winners or losers, but to build models that look at influential factors on team performance-after all, it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game," she said.

Google Cloud has been helping teams in NCAA basketball tournament analyse more than 80 years' worth of statistical game and competition data.

In Final Four games later in the day, the Wildcats had an easy time in a 95-79 victory versus Kansas while the Wolverines had to rally to defeat Loyola-Chicago 69-57.

During the Final Four games, the Google Cloud team was on site in San Antonio and closely followed the games.

It used workflow to analyse observations from the first half of each game against NCAA historical data to hone in on a state-based prediction for the second half that it thought was highly probable.

Google shared the predictions in real-time TV ads during halftime using a rendering system.