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March Dataness: NCAA Moving 80-Plus Years of Game Data to Google Cloud

March 1, 2018

[john w. mcdonough/sports illustrated/getty images]
[john w. mcdonough/sports illustrated/getty images]

In a new partnership, decades of sports data from the NCAA are moving onto the Google Cloud Platform.

As Forbes recently reported, Google will be the NCAA’s official “cloud sponsor” starting with March Madness, the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that begins with games March 13-14. Google will provide its analytics and machine-learning tools to NCAA bracket-makers, official and fan alike, as part of the multiyear deal that also includes partners Turner Sports and CBS Sports.

With more than 80 years of game data across 24 sports, 19,000 teams, 1,100 member universities and 90 championships, the NCAA has a massive amount of historical information in its archives. Those many terabytes of data, stored in modern databases, scanned files and PDFs, have been migrating to Google’s cloud over the past several months.

On the NCAA’s websites, fans and statisticians will be able to run more advanced queries to compare how teams perform in different conditions, such as road games a certain distance away from home court, or playing all freshmen versus all seniors. The NCAA will also use Google’s analytics and machine-learning tools to improve its tournament-selection process.

“Data analytics in sports have become so essential to the way coaches and players compare and compete, and how business leaders make decisions,” says Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president for basketball. “If you’re not in the space, you are falling way behind.” — Greg Beaubien

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