UPDATE (3/20/2018): Many of you have been wondering just how perfect my “Perfect Bracket” turned out to be following the madness of the opening weekend of the tournament. Turns out the answer is “not very.” Now I know what you’re thinking: “Whitty, I trusted you to give me the perfect bracket, and you let me down.” You’re right. I’m sorry. I fell victim to some shitty officiating that I didn’t account for in my simulations. I also may have applied my analytics at the the wrong time (in retrospect, I probably should have aaced uniform color for the sweet 16). Again, I’m sorry. In the words of my good friend Jim Calhoun:
So just how bad was it? Well, I accurately predicted 3 of the teams in the Sweet 16, so really not too terrible. That’s almost 19%, which, in terms of batting average, would almost be good enough to hit leadoff for the Reds. And I still have 2 Elite Eight teams left! That means that even though I can’t achieve my goal of perfection, I’m sure I’m still in the running for top bracket in then ESPN bracket challenge. As long as none of the 15.9 million people ahead of me get any more picks right, I may still have a shot. If UMBC can shock the world, why not Whitty?
If you missed my original picks, be sure to check them out below:
Everyone is always striving for that perfect bracket, but no one ever quite gets it all correct. It’s part of what makes March Madness so…maddening. Do you use RPI? Win/loss record? Strength of schedule? Quality wins/losses? The answer to all of those questions is “no.” I’ve found the perfect formula, and it involves a number of different criteria. Round 1? Team colors. Round 2? Which team’s mascot would win in a fight. Sweet 16? Which team would win in football. Elite 8? Coin flip. Final Four? Most Twitter followers on official basketball account. Championship? Most famous alumni. After all of that, I’ve ended up with the perfect bracket. Feel free to copy if you still have time as you’re reading this. You’re welcome.
Round of 64
In the first round we’re picking strictly based on a team’s color combination. Uniform design is not taken into consideration here, so teams don’t lose points for having a terrible uniform template. The only thing that matters is that they have a strong color scheme.
Virginia Cavaliers (1) vs. UMBC Terriers (16)
Virginia in a blowout. Blue and orange is a great combo. Black and yellow, not so much.
Creighton Blue Jays (8) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (9)
You’re going to quickly notice that I’m partial to the color blue. It’s hard to mess up Blue uniforms (unless you throw in some piss yellow and call it “maize”). Blue > Purple all day.
Kentucky Wildcats (5) vs Davidson Wildcats (12)
The 5-12 matchups are always ripe for an upset. Not here though as UK is looking slick in the blue and white.
Arizona Wildcats (4) vs Buffalo Bulls (13)
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Two blue teams, now what are you going to do, idiot?” Arizona gets the nod here. Their Blue is darker (I’m particularly partial to navy) plus adding a bit of red gives them an edge over Buffalo’s monotone color scheme.
Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6) vs. Loyola Chicago Ramblers (11)
Not a pretty matchup here. Loyola gets the nod here with the maroon and gold. Too much yellow/gold can ruin a uniform, but orange and green is not a great combo so the Ramblers are safe here.
Tennessee Volunteers (3) vs. Wright State Raiders (14)
Green is usually a solid color choice, but I don’t like it paired with yellow. It still beats the Tennessee orange though, which is unique, but not quite my test. Raiders with the upset.
Nevada Wolf Pack (7) vs Texas Longhorns (10)
While the Tennessee orange doesn’t do it for me, I’m actually quite partial to the burnt orange of Texas, especially when paired with white. Still, it’s no match for be silver and navy of Nevada.
Cincinnati Bearcats (2) vs. Georgia State Panthers (15)
Could be the upset of the tournament here. UC has one of the best teams in the country but the blue and white color combo for Georgia State trumps the Bearcats’ red and black.
Xavier Musketeers (1) vs. Texas Southern Tigers (16)
Once again, it’s hard to beat the navy and silver combo. The Tigers of Texas Southern look good in maroon and silver, but they’re not knocking off a #1 seed with that look. Musketeers roll into the 2nd round.
Missouri Tigers (8) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9)
Missouri’s colors are listed as black and gold, which is an amazing color combo, but the “gold” looks more yellow to me, and is kind of ugly. Florida State, on the other hand, with their garnet and gold, look pretty sharp. Easy victory for the Seminoles.
Ohio State Buckeyes (5) vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits (12)
While it’s true that blue is my favorite color, as a Buckeyes fan I’ve grown to love the Scarlet and Gray. Plus, as I mentioned above, mixing yellow and blue is a big minus in my book. Easy W for the Buckeyes.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (4) vs. UNC Greensboro Spartans (13)
Blue and red vs. blue and yellow? Zags win that matchup all day.
Houston Cougars (6) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (11)
This is one of the tougher match ups that we’ve had so far in this first round. Both teams have red as their predominant color. I’m giving the nod to Houston here because I feel like San Diego State uses too much black in their uniforms. While black works as a great accent color, I’m not usually a fan of it as a primary uniform color (unless it’s combined with gold).
Michigan Wolverines (3) vs. Montana Grizzlies (14)
Again, blue and yellow is a trash color combination. I’m a much bigger fan of the maroon and silver that Montana is rocking.
Texas A&M Aggies (7) vs. Providence Friars (10)
Black, silver and white is too boring for a basketball uniform. It looks great on the football field (what’s up Raiders?), but I’d prefer to see a little more color on the basketball court. The Aggies, meanwhile, look solid with their maroon and white combo.
North Carolina Tar Heels (2) vs. Lipscomb Bisons (15)
Generally not a fan of the baby blue (or “Carolina blue” if we’re being technical), but I’ll take it every day over a purple and yellow combination. Tar Heels in a blowout.
Villanova Wildcats (1) vs. Radford Highlanders (16)
Once again, it’s going to be hard for any color combination to knock off navy. Radford doesn’t stand a chance in this matchup with their red and white color scheme.
Virginia Tech Hokies (8) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (9)
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about the maroon and orange combination that I love. Alabama’s crimson and white looks great, but Virginia Tech gets the nod here because of the orange.
West Virginia Mountaineers (5) vs. Murray State Racers (12)
Battle of the blue and yellows. Not good. The color schemes are almost identical for these two, so I’m going to have go to a tiebreaker. West Virginia edges out the Racers thanks to Bob Huggins and his track suits. An overtime thriller.
Wichita State Shockers (4) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (13)
While I generally like green uniforms, I’m not a huge fan of the shade that Marshall uses. Still, it’s better than the Wichita State’s black and yell, so the Thundering Herd is moving on.
Florida Gators (6) vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies (11)
This may be one of the most lopsided matchups of the day. Florida’s blue and orange is a great combo regardless, but when compared to the brown and white of St. Bonaventure, Florida wins no contest.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (3) vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14)
Purple just doesn’t do it for me, so this one is easy. Give me Texas Tech’s red and black over Stephen F. Austin any day.
Arkansas Razorbacks (7) vs. Butler Bulldogs (10)
Should be no surprise at this point. We’re going with Butler over Arkansas because the blue and white tops maroon and white.
Purdue Boilermakers (2) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (15)
For the second time in this tournament we have a #2 seed falling to a #15 seed. What a wild opening weekend it’s been, and we’re just getting started! While I love the black and gold combo for Purdue, it just can’t beat blue and orange.
Kansas Jayhawks (1) vs. Penn Quakers (16)
This one goes down to the wire but Kansas survives with a buzzer beater. Incredible. One of these years we’re going to see a 16 seed knock of a 1 seed, but alas, this isn’t that year. While both schools rock the blue and red combo, Kansas actually incorporates the red into their uniforms more, which makes them seem less monochromatic than Penn.
Seton Hall Pirates (8) vs. NC State Wolfpack (9)
Once again, blue tops red when it comes to uniform colors, so the Pirates are moving on.
Clemson Tigers (5) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (12)
This is an intriguing matchup because while I’m generally not a fan of purple, I don’t think it looks awful when combined with orange the way Clemson does it. Still, the Aggies look better in their crimson and white, so they get the victory.
Auburn Tigers (4) vs. Charleston Cougars (13)
Charleston’s color scheme is solid, but it’s no match for the blue and orange of Auburn. War Eagle!
TCU Horned Frogs (6) vs. Syracuse Orange (11)
The Orange ride the momentum from their play-in game victory, and the strength of their orange uniforms, to make it past purple-clad Horned Frogs.
Michigan State Spartans (3) vs. Bucknell Bison (14)
The Bison come in strong with the blue and orange combo to knock off heavy favorite Michigan State. This wouldn’t be the first time the Bison knocked off a #3 seed in the first round, as they did it to Kansas back in 2005.
Rhode Island Rams (7) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (10)
The Rams incorporate several different shades of blue into their color scheme. The Sooners incorporate no shades of blue in their color scheme. Rams win.
Duke Blue Devils (2) vs. Iona Gaels (15)
I don’t like picking Duke, but their blue trumps the maroon and gold of Iona. Blue Devils win this one big.
Round of 32
In the second round of the tournament, color schemes no longer matter. These teams have proven they look good on the court. But how would their mascots fair in a battle against their opponents’? That’s what we’re about to find out.
Virginia Cavaliers (1) vs. Creighton Blue Jays (8)
According to my good friends Merriam and Webster, a Cavalier is a gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship. A Blue Jay doesn’t stand a chance.
Arizona Wildcats (4) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (5)
Pretty tough to determine a winner when the two schools share a mascot. I’m giving the edge to Arizona because, unlike Kentucky, the state of Arizona is actually home to several species of big cats, some of which are quite common.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers (11) vs. Wright State Raiders (14)
I had to look up Rambler to see if there was any significance to that nickname. While the team’s mascot is a wolf, they’re being represented by a Rambler (or one who wanders aimlessly) in this fight. Interestingly enough, Wright State’s mascot is also a wolf, but just like Loyola, they’re being represented by their namesake, the Raider. No surprise that the Raider comes out victorious here, as a Rambler does not seem to be much for combat.
Nevada Wolf Pack (7) vs. Georgia State Panthers (15)
This one is a tough matchup. 1-on-1 I’d have to give the nod to a panther over a solitary wolf, but since Nevada is the Wolf Pack, it’s only fair that their represented by an entire pack of wolves. With their strength in numbers, I’d have to think the wolves would have the upper hand on a panther, so Nevada comes out victorious in this one.
Xavier Musketeers (1) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9)
Musketeers get the edge in this particular battle as they have the aid of firearms on their side.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (4) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (5)
The leaves and nuts of a buckeye tree are toxic to dogs, so there’s not much chances for the bulldog in this matchup. Buckeyes move on to the Sweet 16.
Houston Cougars (6) vs. Montana Grizzlies (14)
While a cougar is one of the more powerful big cats in the world, their size and strength is nothing compared to that of a grizzly bear. While the cougar likely has speed and agility on its side, I don’t see it doing much damage to the grizzly. And if the bear can get a hold of the cougar, it’s game over. Montana’s getting the W here.
North Carolina Tar Heels (2) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (7)
Both of these nicknames have rather loose definitions. While I couldn’t find a consensus on “Tar Heel”, it did seem to date back to the civil war days, but it seems to be more of just a general term for people from North Carolina. Aggie, on the other hand, is often meant to refer to an agricultural school or it’s student. I’m taking some liberties here and making a few assumptions, but I’m going to say our Tar Heel is from the civil war days and he has battle experience. If that’s the case, he takes out the college kid, no problem. Tar Heels advance.
Villanova Wildcats (1) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (8)
Based on my understanding of the term (and based on the appearance of the school mascot), I believe a hokie is a turkey-like bird. No match for a wildcat, so Villanova wins.
West Virginia Mountaineers (5) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (13)
I’m not sure what specific animal this herd consists of, but I would imagine that a mountaineer would be no match for a herd of anything if they were stampeding his way, so Marshall is on to the Sweet 16.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (3) vs. Florida Gators (6)
Red, blue or purple, I don’t think a raider is going to be much of a match for an alligator. Florida takes this one easily.
Butler Bulldogs (10) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (15)
A dog isn’t going to put up much of a fight against a titan, I’m afraid, so Cal State Fullerton is going to shock the world and make it to the Sweet 16.
Kansas Jayhawks (1) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (8)
No bird is going to be able to go up against a pirate and live to tell the tale. It’s an early exit for Kansas.
Auburn Tigers (4) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (12)
Another aggie. This time they’re matching up with a tiger. All the agricultural knowledge in the world isn’t going to help them survive that battle. Auburn wins.
Syracuse Orange (11) vs. Bucknell Bison (14)
I’m not sure if the Orange is supposed to be the fruit or the color, but either way, it’s not taking out a bison, so Bucknell is moving on.
Duke Blue Devils (2) vs. Rhode Island Rams (7)
The Blue Devils were named after a group of highly trained French soldiers from WWI. I’m guessing they can handle a Ram no problem, so Duke is on to the Sweet 16.
By now, each of these teams has proven to be rather proficient in basketball, but how would they fair on the gridiron? This round will be decided on which school would win a football game.
Virginia Cavaliers (1) vs. Arizona Wildcats (4)
Virginia has posted only one winning football season in the past 10 years, a feat that Arizona has accomplished 8 times in that span. While neither school is a football powerhouse, Arizona would likely win this one.
Nevada Wolf Pack (7) vs. Wright State Raiders (14)
Nevada isn’t the most elite program when it comes to football, but it’s still a Division I school. Wright State has a club football team. No contest here.
Xavier Musketeers (1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (5)
This one isn’t exactly fair as Xavier doesn’t have a football program, but Ohio State moves on easily.
North Carolina Tar Heels (2) vs Montana Grizzlies (14)
While both programs are DI, Montana is an FCS school, so UNC should come away with the W here.
Villanova Wildcats (1) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (13)
Another FBS vs FCS matchup. Marshall wins this one.
Florida Gators (6) vs Cal State Fullerton Titans (15)
Another DI powerhouse going up against a school without a football program. Gators advance.
Auburn Tigers (4) vs Seton Hall Pirates (8)
Again, DI powerhouse vs no football program. Auburn is headed to the Elite 8.
Duke Blue Devils (2) vs. Bucknell Bison (14)
Duke’s FBS. Bucknell’s FCS. Duke wins.
To get to the Final Four, you can’t just rely on skill. You need a little luck on your side, so this round is being determined by a single coin flip. Heads to the higher seeded team, tails to the lower seeded team.
Arizona Wildcats (4) vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (7)
North Carolina Tar Heels (2) vs Ohio State Buckeyes (5)
Florida Gators (6)vs Marshall Thundering Herd (13)
Duke Blue Devils (2) vs. Auburn Tigers (4)
Sometimes life is a popularity contest. The semifinal matchups will be decided by which school’s official basketball Twitter account has more followers.
Arizona Wildcats (4) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (5)
Auburn Tigers (4) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (13)
You can’t make it to the top unless you know somebody. My 2018 Men’s National Champion will be determined by which school has the most famous alumnus.
Arizona Wildcats (4) vs. Auburn Tigers (4)
Kourtney Kardashian wins it for Arizona. While both schools probably had more noteworthy alumni, I’m not sure any of them quite reached Kardashian fame (at least not in this current day and age). Tim Cook was who I picked out from Auburn, but I’m guessing more people would recognize Kourtney over him.
And there you have it. The perfect bracket. Follow along all throughout the tournament as I provide updates along the way.