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Google AI to help NCAA select and seed for tournaments

Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, 2:24 p.m.
In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. The spate of arrests, the details of under-the-table bribes to teenagers and the expected downfall of one of the sport’s best-known coaches has triggered uncomfortable soul searching among universities that run the nation’s most prominent college basketball programs.
 At stake is the future of a business that, over the span of 22 years ending in 2032, will produce $19.6 billion in TV money for the NCAA Tournament, known to the public, simply, as March Madness.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. The spate of arrests, the details of under-the-table bribes to teenagers and the expected downfall of one of the sport’s best-known coaches has triggered uncomfortable soul searching among universities that run the nation’s most prominent college basketball programs. At stake is the future of a business that, over the span of 22 years ending in 2032, will produce $19.6 billion in TV money for the NCAA Tournament, known to the public, simply, as March Madness.

Each year when the NCAA announces the teams in the March Madness tournament, people cheer, jeer or find someone to blame.

This year, they can blame Google.

The NCAA will use Google's data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to help it select and seed teams for upcoming tournaments, including this year's Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, the NCAA and Google announced Tuesday.

“By leveraging Google Cloud's expertise in data analytics, machine learning, and AI, the NCAA will find new ways to enhance decision-making capabilities across multiple athletic programs - from the selection and seeding process to programming,” Tariq Shaukat, president of global alliance and industry platforms for Google Cloud, said in a statement.

So in addition to strength of schedule, RPI and the whim of the selection committee, Google will help decide who's in, who's out and who is on the bubble.

Google Cloud will be the official NCAA Cloud Partner during the 2017-2018 Division I men's and women's basketball seasons, the NCAA announced. This will give fans access to data and analytic tools to search, compare and analyze teams and players and deliver near real-time simulations of match-ups.

The NCAA will also move more than 80 years of sports data to Google Cloud for use by colleges, universities, teams and fans.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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