The NCAA has released the tournament brackets for the 2011 Division I men’s basketball championship, so Tweed Madness is on: Tell us in the comments which team is going to win which matchup — the more obscure your reasoning, the better.
We’ll give you our own Final Four picks in a moment, but first, an obligatory academic digression.
Minutes after our announcement went out on Friday, friends started reminding us about other geeky approaches to bracketology:
* Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, compiles one that highlights which tournament teams do the best job of graduating their players.
* The Center for Responsive Politics offers the K Street College Classic (which our colleague Sara Hebel noted a couple years ago), awarding victory to whichever college spends the most money lobbying the federal government.
* Microsoft’s “The Old New Thing” blog for developers (the geekiest of all geeks) publishes an annual “Raymond’s highly scientific predictions” bracket, based on arbitrary criteria that change from year to year (2006 was tied to presidential longevity; in 2009, the team with the lowest graduation rate won).
* The American Economic Association did its own March Madness spinoff a couple years ago, “Market Madness,” in which factors that had contributed to the global financial meltdown were pitted against each other in a dismal blame game, with “Moral Hazards” defeating “Watchdogs” in the final contest.
Herewith, our own Final Four picks and random justifications:
Southeast: Pittsburgh. Size matters, folks, and Pitt towers over everyone. Its Cathedral of Learning dwarfs all other academic buildings in the country, standing 535 feet tall. No one’s making a jump shot over that.
Southwest: St. Peter’s: Long before there was a Jersey City, before the Revolutionary War, the city on the west bank of the Hudson River was called “Pavonia,” aka “Land of the Peacock.” That’s how St. Peter’s became known as the Peacock Nation. These colors don’t run.
East: Indiana State. They’ve come a long way since they were known as the “Fighting Teachers.” Sycamore Sam, their current mascot, has a nice, unassuming Midwestern smile, but don’t let that fool you. (Also, don’t forget that this is the school that gave us Larry Bird.)
West: Hampton: Tenacity starts at the top here. Hampton’s president, William R. Harvey, is one of the longest-serving college presidents, having taken over in 1978. That kind of persistence will help the Pirates overcome long odds again: Ten years ago a 15th-seeded Hampton team bumped off a No. 2 seed, Iowa State. This year Hampton is seeded 16th, making the team a sure thing against the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
Remember: It’s not a tournament without some memorable upsets, and the best ones always come in the first round. And if we’re wrong, no problem. In Tweed Madness, everyone advances to the next round. This thing doesn’t end ’til April 4.
Now comes your turn: What are your picks? Tell us in the comments, and don’t forget to give us your witty, obscure, and ridiculous justifications. Your opinion is worth every bit as much as a guinea pig’s.