Mar 27 2013

Behind the Scenes, Big Data and Analytics Fuel March Madness

College basketball teams rely heavily on technology as they prepare for a run at the title.

College basketball players may be considered amateurs by the NCAA, but the technology used by their teams is definitely professional. Increasingly, college basketball teams are turning to analytics to improve their games. At least 300 Division I men’s college teams have turned to Synergy Sports Technology for analytics, and Synergy has film on nearly all of the 5,700 men’s Division I college basketball games played in a season.

The impact of sports analytics isn’t what you might think. Instead of creating more opportunities for scoring, analytics provides an edge on the defensive side of the ball:

"Inevitably, points scored are going to go down because of the information coaches have at their disposal."

Coaches not only have a lot of information at their disposal, they have it quickly, which is significant heading into the NCAA Tournament. If you win a tournament game Thursday, you play Saturday, and the interactive video -- opponent statistics married with video -- is instantly at your fingertips.

Read The technological tie that binds college basketball on USA Today.

Now that most teams are leveraging analytics, the playing field is level once again. But just a few years, PC Mag suggests, analytics could have given early adopters a significant advantage:

Synergy Sports Technology first offered its video analytics package, Synergy NET, to Marquette University. The software analyzes live game video of basketball games and calculates statistical trends, such as what a given player does in a pick-and-roll on the left side of the basket.

Marquette has since gone to the NCAA basketball tournament seven straight times. The next two colleges offered the package, in 2008, were UCLA and Kansas. UCLA went to the Final Four, and Kansas won it all.

Read Basketball Tech That Could Revolutionize March Madness on PC Mag.

Because so many teams are digging into analytics and tracking points, dribbles, rebounds and passes closer than ever, basketball data is expanding rapidly. In the same way big data is just gaining traction the sports community is preparing for major changes in the way teams prepare and compete.

Stadiums are also making major technology updates. See how the stadiums hosting the Final Four prepared for the Big Dance.