March Madness is no fun anymore.
Endlessly obsessing over my picks before I even submit them. Tirelessly tracking the scores of each and every game. Losing the pure enjoyment of watching an exciting college basketball game if one of my teams is eliminated.
So this year, I planned to skip the madness.
But then the light bulb went off: what if I based my selections on a ranking of the schools with the hottest students?
Bleacher Report’s own Mike McD completed an exhaustive ranking of all 120 FBS schools, as he compiled a list of college football's hottest fanbases of 2012. This list was perfect for my bracket. It included 40 of the 68 teams in the current NCAA tournament field, as many schools in the FBS also participate in Division I basketball. I was now free to remove myself from the selection process and let Mike McD's painstaking scientific research do all the work.
So here is how a March Madness bracket would look if you replaced the actual seedings with the rankings from Mike McD’s list. For each game, the team with the better ranking is selected each time. If a ranked team plays an unranked team, the ranked team is selected. And if two unranked teams play each other, you can use your best judgment. Or flip a coin. Or go to the school websites and see which one has the hotter student bodies.
Like I said, it's all very scientific.
The South is hot from top to bottom.
Ten of the teams in this region are on Mike McD’s list, and eight of those 10 appear in the list’s Top 50.
The two best first round matchups both involve a West Coast school versus a school from the Midwest: UCLA (28) vs. Minnesota (41) and San Diego State (18) vs. Oklahoma (30).
UCLA is again involved in one of the best matchups of the second round by facing Florida. The Gator Girls are nearly unstoppable, though, and they will march to the Final Four after beating upstart San Diego State and traditional power UNC.
REGIONAL CHAMPION: Florida
The East does not have the thoroughbreds found in the other regions.
Nine teams from the East made Mike McD's list, but only three are in the Top 50, including number 50.
Plus, an entire sub-regional—consisting of Butler, Bucknell, Marquette and Davidson—was excluded from the Bleacher Report list.
Thankfully, the two powerhouses in the region—Indiana (24) and U. of Miami (25)—will save the East with a titillating regional final.
REGIONAL CHAMPION: Indiana
The Midwest is stacked.
This region has nine teams on Mike McD’s list. But of those nine, five made the Top 50. And of those five, three made the Top 20.
The Midwest also boasts the best first-round matchup of the tournament, hands down: Wisconsin (13) vs. Ole Miss (7). The action will be hot.
Ole Miss should then breeze through to the Final Four after some desert heat from Arizona (14) in the Regional Final.
REGIONAL CHAMPION: Ole Miss
The West region provides some stiff competition.
Ten schools from the West appear on the Bleacher Report list, with half of these in the Top 50.
Unfortunately, the two biggest hotties of this region—Missouri (21) and Oregon (12)—play each other as early as the Elite Eight, after Mizzou knocks off the Ladies of Louisville (44) and Oregon defeats another upstart in New Mexico State (55).
The other half of the region is much weaker, although it boasts some well-known talent. Michigan State (37) will advance to the Elite eight after getting past the Tigers of Memphis (76), and then face the Bearcats of Cincinnati (54). Cincy will have knocked off devilish Duke (94) before falling to Sparty.
REGIONAL CHAMPION: Oregon
Variety is the spice of life.
This Final Four will be nice and spicy.
Ole Miss will slide by Oregon in an even tougher matchup than the Debutantes faced in the first round.
In the other National Semifinal, the Gator Girls will continue chomping as they beat the Hoosiers of Indiana.
This will set up a southern delight in the National Championship game: Ole Miss vs. Florida.
The Rebels have too much athletic ability for the Gator Girls and will cut down the nets in Hotlanta. Now let’s see if the Ole Miss basketball team gets as hot as their female classmates already are.
NATIONAL CHAMPION: Ole Miss.