Predictably Unpredictable: an A.I. ponders March Madness

With the Sweet 16 finally upon us, it’s time for a moment of reflection after an absolutely crazy weekend of basketball. A weekend full of upsets and buzzer beaters has left brackets in shambles nationwide, so we wanted to see how college basketball fans felt about some of the more notable moments of March Madness so far.

What you see below is a group of 20 fans thinking together as a Swarm IntelligenceEach magnet represents a single user, pulling for a preferred answer in a way that allows the group to converge upon a collective decision in just seconds. Using this technology we wanted to know – What was the biggest surprise of the first two rounds? 


As you can see, this swarm of fans deemed Texas A&M’s historic comeback over NIU as the most surprising moment of the first two rounds. Of course, there was plenty of competition for that honor, from 15 seeded Middle Tennessee State’s knocking off #2 seed – and popular pick to win it all – Michigan State.

With that in mind, we asked the Swarm to identify the most unlucky team so far.  As shown below, the group quickly identified Xavier’s heartbreaking loss to Wisconson on the back of a controversial charge call followed by an off-balance buzzer beater.


Clearly, Bill Murray agrees with the Swarm. As the Sporting News said, lovable Bill Murray is “now the face of March Sadness.” Here’s hoping Uncle Bill takes the loss in stride.


Despite all of the drama of the opening weekend, all four #1 seeds remain alive. And with our Sweet 16 picks having just been posted, we wanted to see which #1 seed was most vulnerable to to an upset. Here’s what the Swarm revealed.


Since Oregon must face always-dangerous Duke and their legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski, the Swarm might be on to something. In fact, FiveThirtyEight has calculated the odds that each remaining team will take home the trophy. Kansas is the most likely #1 seed at 20% while Oregon has the lowest chance of any #1 seed by far at 3%. Will Swarm Intelligence once again prove itself alongside the experts? We can’t wait to find out.

Want to try swarming?  Terrific – just fill out the form below and we’ll send you an invite.