It’s March Madness time which means two things: non-stop basketball and busted brackets.
The past few years my bracket picks were horrible. In 2014 everything went wrong, but I don’t think that’s my fault. Who could have seen 7-seeded UConn beating 8-seeded Kentucky in the National Championship?
In 2015 and 2016, my brackets were busted day one, as 14-seed UAB knocked out my runner-up pick Iowa State in 2015, and my pick to win it all, Michigan State, got bounced in the first round by 15-seed Middle Tennessee State in 2016. Last year I struck out on all four of my Final Four picks- thanks Virginia, Kansas, Butler and Arizona.
This year, I’ve decided to take a new approach. I’m going to ask the people. Regardless of their knowledge of college basketball and the NCAA tournament, I am going to go with what the people choose. In order to do that, I went to McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland and asked 22 random people to pick games for me. Here’s how it went…
First Four- Audrey Stultz
Note: Unfortunately, I did this after St. Bonaventure beat UCLA and Radford beat LIU Brooklyn. So those two games weren’t picked.
- NC Central defeats Texas Southern
- Syracuse defeats Arizona State
“People I know went to Syracuse.”
Going with the personal ties route. Bold.
South region top half- Nick Santos
- Virginia defeats UMBC
- Kansas St defeats Creighton
- Kentucky defeats Davidson
- Buffalo defeats Arizona
“I know these are good picks [Virginia, Kansas State, Kentucky] but for Buffalo I kinda just guessed.”
Upsets are random, so guessing on them is probably smarter than actually thinking about one.
South region bottom half- Megan Guiltinan
- Miami defeats Loyola-Chicago
- Tennessee defeats Wright State
- Texas defeats Nevada
- Cincinnati defeats Georgia State
“I’ve never heard of Wright State and Loyola, so I assumed Tennessee and Miami would be better.”
Big names do usually dominate the tournament. Smart reasoning.
West region top half- Brandon Stoeckel
- Xavier defeats NC Central
- Florida State defeats Missouri
- Ohio State defeats South Dakota State
- UNC Greensboro defeats Gonzaga
“Xavier sounded cooler.”
Xavier is a pretty cool name, can’t argue with that.
West region bottom half- Daniel Kirchner
- Houston defeats San Diego State
- Michigan defeats Montana
- Texas A&M defeats Providence
- UNC defeats Lipscomb
“If the name sounded more familiar, I went with it.”
The familiarity route is becoming a popular one.
East region top half- Josh Binderman
- Villanova defeats Radford
- Alabama defeats Virginia Tech
- West Virginia defeats Murray State
- Marshall defeats Wichita State
“Always been a ‘Bama fan.”
When he said that I got Tua flashbacks. It wasn’t pretty.
East region bottom half- Mitchell Abes
- Florida defeats St. Bonaventure
- Texas Tech defeats Stephen F. Austin
- Butler defeats Arkansas
- Cal State Fullerton defeats Purdue
“I know a kid who goes to Purdue. I hate him.”
Can’t argue with that logic.
Midwest region top half- Collin Whick
- Kansas defeats Penn
- Seton Hall defeats NC State
- Clemson defeats New Mexico State
- Auburn defeats Charleston
“Kansas is Kansas.”
Once again, can’t argue with that logic.
Midwest region bottom half- Slade Parson
- TCU defeats Syracuse
- Michigan State defeats Bucknell
- Oklahoma defeats Rhode Island
- Duke defeats Iona
“Trae Young is good.”
Clearly he watches ESPN.
East region 2nd round- Frieda Greenthal
- Kansas State defeats Virginia
- Kentucky defeats Buffalo
- Miami defeats Tennessee
- Cincinnati defeats Texas
“I’ve looked at other peoples brackets.”
Using other people’s choices for their own bracket! Who would do that??? Oh right, me.
West region 2nd round- Clayton Cole
- Xavier defeats Florida State
- Ohio State defeats UNC Greensboro
- Michigan defeats Houston
- UNC defeats Texas A&M
“I haven’t followed college basketball this year, so I went with names I recognized as good programs.”
As I said earlier, big programs dominate the tourney. Smart reasoning.
East region 2nd round- Brandon Smith
- Villanova defeats Alabama
- West Virginia defeats Marshall
- Florida defeats Texas Tech
- Butler defeats Cal State Fullerton
“These teams are known to do well in crunch time.”
Villanova did hit a buzzer beater to win it all two years ago, so he’s not wrong.
Midwest region 2nd round- Steven Hall
- Kansas defeats Seton Hall
- Auburn defeats Clemson
- Michigan State defeats TCU
- Duke defeats Oklahoma
“Duke always wins.”
…unless they’re playing Lehigh or Mercer.
South region Sweet 16- Tori Queeney
- Kentucky defeats Kansas State
- Cincinnati defeats Miami
“I know Cincy is seeded high.”
The good old chalk method. Usually does well.
West region Sweet 16- Nick Appleton
- Ohio State defeats Xavier
- Michigan defeats UNC
“They sounded like state schools and would probably have better funding.”
Really weird way to say you want to see a Michigan Ohio State rivalry matchup.
East region Sweet 16- Jared Hester
- Villanova defeats West Virginia
- Butler defeats Texas Tech
“Butler, just for the upset.”
I like seeing low seeds go far, so I’ll take it
Midwest region Sweet 16- Jahi Madzimoyo
- Kansas defeats Auburn
- Michigan State defeats Duke
“I have no idea. I just picked them to be honest.”
Honestly, can’t hate. Very solid reasoning.
South and West regions Elite 8- Grace Jubert
- Kentucky defeats Cincinnati
- Michigan defeats Ohio State
“People from Ohio State are annoying.”
East and Midwest regions Elite 8- Cali Robertson
- Butler defeats Villanova
- Kansas defeats Michigan State
“I’m pretty sure they’ve both been really good in the past.”
I’m ignoring the reasoning… WE HAVE A 10 SEED IN THE FINAL FOUR!!!
Final Four- Ali Vidal
- Michigan defeats Kentucky
- Kansas defeats Butler
“I randomly picked.”
And that’s how Butler’s 10 seed dream dies. Someone randomly picking.
National Championship- Alex Becker
- Kansas defeats Michigan
Fair reasoning, but kind of a lame way to decide the National Championship. In reality I know he meant to say, ‘Kansas gets its pay-back for Trey Burke channeling his inner Steph Curry in 2013.’ If this fictional title game is anything like that game was, I can’t wait.
Overall, this is not your typical bracket. We have a 2 seed losing in the first round, multiple 4 seeds losing in the first round, and a 10 seed making the Final Four. However, knowing how March Madness usually goes, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the 22 UMD students I interviewed were able to put together one of the best brackets of the year.