In the spirit of March Madness, I’ve filled out my own NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket. However, I don’t follow college basketball much, and I can’t pretend to know enough about the teams to make any neat predictions. So I’ve opted for a different method: I pick whichever team ranks higher in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of the best colleges, putting academic excellence first, though it is largely irrelevant.
The result: a bracket that has more than a few upsets, but a few familiar teams at the top. Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin, and Stanford all make my Final Four. None are #1 seeds, and Stanford is a long shot in basketball terms at #10. Yet the other three may feature in a high percentage of brackets based on sports criteria alone.
I have Villanova winning it all, for the following reason: there are some teams that will play each other that are ranked on different lists by U.S. News & World Report. Some are on the “national university” list, while others are on the “regional university” list, and so on. Rather than compare apples to oranges, in those cases I simply pick the team that is seeded highest.
So Villanova (#2, East, #1 “regional” college in the north) beats Duke (#3, Midwest, #7 “national university”) in the final. My alma mater, Harvard (#2 “national university”) makes the Elite Eight (beating Virginia!) before being eliminated by Villanova for the same reason.