The NCAA men's basketball tournament is the only American sporting event that beats the Super Bowl for pure postseason revenue generating power. Sure, the tourney is 67 games to the Super Bowl's one, but it's still an impressive feat when you consider the NFL's stranglehold on the American consciousness. In 2012, the NCAA Tournament became the first American postseason championship to surpass $1 billion in ad revenue despite losing regular season ratings wars to the NBA, NFL and college football.
I like to think this upsets the NFL, an entity grossly in need of comeuppance. But whatever happens this March, there's little escaping the fact that this is a FOOTBALL country. The NFL flexes its influence any way it can, and perhaps even in ways that many are unable to perceive.
Realtime Bracket Game
Realtime Bracket Game
For example, did you know that college basketball teams absorb the properties of their nearest NFL franchises come time for the postseason? It's true! No don't fact check that, just trust me on this.
The bracket below will absolutely, 100 percent, most definitely match the results of the upcoming the NCAA Tournament*. The methodology is simple: If a team is located in or near an NFL city, it takes on the properties of that franchise (it works, see: Georgetown). Some schools are seemingly in no-man's land when it comes to the NFL -- say, Northern Iowa or Louisville -- so those schools become an amalgamation of several different personalities. The closer a school is to an NFL team by physical distance, the stronger the connection.
To keep this somewhat sane, I took into account relative talent level of each college team. Some programs are simply too talented to be completely undone by their dysfunctional sister NFL franchise.
*SB Nation and I are in no way liable for this statement.
This bracket didn't turn out too crazy other than the Butler upset over Kentucky. The Wildcats are basically the Bengals with strong notes of the Titans and Rams -- a pretty nasty combination, especially in the postseason. Luckily, they are immensely talented and face a pretty easy gauntlet. The Cincinnati Bearcats have an even stronger innate postseason allergy, and West Virginia is pretty much an extension of Pittsburgh, another team whose past season ended with a dud.
Butler is in Indianapolis and fits the Colts' profile well as a strong but underpowered club with an awesome offensive weapon (sharpshooter Kellen Dunham) who can keep the team in virtually any game. Is that enough to put the Bulldogs above what may be one of the greatest teams in college basketball history? Sure!
Like Kentucky, Villanova doesn't face a particularly strong slate of NFL profiles. It's not difficult to imagine an Eagles team with clear talent superiority beating a Colts/Titans/Bengals/Rams Frankenstein in Louisville.
But a Patriots stand-in? That might be tougher for the Wildcats. And as we all know, Chip Kelly teams never win the big one (/ducks).
I think Wisconsin wins this bracket, but barely. Madison is clearly a Packers town, but it is still in relatively close proximity to the Bears' wretchedness. Oregon is probably a Seahawks town, but the connection isn't strong. Harvard makes a nice run off the Pats' influence, but is ultimately still Harvard. Baylor features a strong Cowboys influence, but is also leeched by the Texans.
Look at that, a one-seed in the Final Four!
Eastern Washington doesn't appear to reside near anything resembling civilization, but it is undoubtedly a Seahawks school. Pete Carroll, with his penchant for picking up major contributors late in the NFL Draft, will be proud to see the Eagles pull off an upset over a big-budget Georgetown team from Washington, D.C. and very nearly take down a wobbly Duke squad.
The No. 1 seed prevails to the Elite Eight, but it can't survive a second straight bout against a team from the state of Washington in Gonzaga. On to the Final Four!
The Chicago influence brings down Wisconsin, and the Zags turn down an easy game-winning layup in the closing seconds of their semifinal bout against Providence in favor of a bricked kickout three-pointer.
Butler and Providence meet as six-seeds in the championship game, and the Friars win by 38 points.
Thank you for reading. This has been a wholly scientific endeavor.