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A Graphik-al Bracket Breakdown

Now with 100% more alternative statistics!


It's the most wonderful time of the year, college hoops fans! Yes, [insert trademarked name here] has finally arrived and with it, the chaos, heartbreak, and elation that only shootyhoops can impart on one's cardiac health!

I have taken it upon myself to analyze last year's field and give you an advanced statistical breakdown to help you build your ultimate bracket. "But graphik, how is this any different than what any other website is currently doing for those sweet, sweet #clicks?"

Short answer: it isn't.

Long answer: 1. Because I'm doing it and you all miss me more than Fred Hoiberg misses the kickbacks of small town living, 2. Pictures! and 3. Because I'm bringing you the hottest of #hottakes using an advanced system of metrics to calculate the best picks. Any Lunardi wannabe can look at last year's numbers then compare them to actual basketball stats. We here at WRNL strive to bring you only the best to guarantee* you'll beat the pants off freaking Janice from HR in your work bracket pool.

*Disclaimer: WRNL makes no such guarantee and cannot be held responsible in the event that Janice from HR comes to discuss complaints from coworkers about your smack-talking.

The Might of the Mascot

Picks by mascot are always popular, with lots of avenues for success. My personal favorite is the head-to-head sparring match. Here's how mascots broke out last year.

The humanoids made a pretty hefty showing, with 25 of the teams in the field having a mascot that could be qualified as "humanoid." I sub-divided these into categories of laborers (mascots who perform actual work), military (mascots who fight stuff), "wheat monster" (mascots that are literal children of the corn walkers of the wheat), nationality (mascots that represent a particular race of people, and no it's actually people of Irish descent before you try to start that fight), religious (mascots of the cloth), and other??? (The fuck is a Hoosier? Indianans don't even know.)

But what does it mean?!

Pick cats (10.3% of the field), bovines (7.4% of the field) and natural disasters (4.4% of the field). Despite making up a small percentage of mascots, they won 11.9%, 9%, and 6% of the total number of games possible. Canines should be avoided as they only won 7.5% of the total number of games possible despite representing 10.3% of the overall mascot spread.

Take 'Em: Northwestern, Bucknell, and Iowa State

Leave 'Em: Gonzaga, Nevada, and Butler

Color Me a Champion

Picking by color is another popular strategy for bracketology. First, we'll look at the number of colors sported by the field.

Overwhelmingly, schools keep it simple with two colors in their official palette. There were two outlier schools sporting only one color (Syracuse and Holy Cross) and two outlier schools with a whopping four official colors (Maryland and Hawaii).

Additionally, it's good to know what the color breakdown of the field is. I made that graph for you.

I ALSO wanted to make a really nice graph of winning percentage by color, but after a thousand attempts at a SUMIF and SUMIFS a million and forty different ways I couldn't get the numbers to work out. According to the closest to correct figures I could get without indi-fucking-vidually counting every goddamn line, teams won 218% of the games in the field last year. That's a pretty impressive stat, represented in the graph below.

But what does it mean?!

Stick to teams with a traditional number of colors (2). The odds are definitely in your favor if you go with the majority in your picks—teams with a non-two-color scheme only won 13.4% of the games last year. But if you're going to ignore my expertly tooled advice and pick a non-2-color team, go with one that only has one official color—they won 7.5% of games last year.

As far as picking by color goes, I'd avoid green (because it's not a creative color) and stick with red, white, and blue if you're at an impasse on teams to advance, because #Murica. Unrelated, but this exercise has also demonstrated that graphic designers are not equipped to grapple with Excel. Bend to my will, you infernal number bot!

Take 'Em: SMU, Creighton, and Dayton

Leave 'Em: Michigan State, UNC Wilmington, and Troy

Students and Venue

This number set looks at how teams did based on what kind of venue they play in. I also took a look at whether or not a given school has a name for its student section other than "The Student Section".

Most of the teams in the field either play in a center or an arena, many of which were boringly named after what I can only assume are money-grubbing corporations. I guess it doesn't matter at the end of the day who pays for your millions-of-dollars renovation, but there's something about the Dunkin' Donuts Center that just doesn't scream college basketball to me.

The majority of student sections are 100% lame. I hope all of you have clever names (or at least something better than literally nothing) by the time the 2018 tournament rolls around.

But what does it mean?!

Teams that played in pavilions are good picks, winning 10.4% of the total games played. Domes, assembly halls, and stadiums will get you a decent return as well with 6%, 3%, and another 3% of games won. Always advance a team with a creative student section name, because no one wants to see a lame-o win.

Take 'Em: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Providence

Leave 'Em: Kansas, Vanderbilt, and Princeton

Beer Me!

My final analysis definitely has the most bearing on who to advance in your bracket. I looked at the primary home court of each team in the field and used a highly scientific searching process* to locate the nearest craft brewery**.

*I literally Google Mapped all of the venues and searched for "craft brewery" 68 times. Manually. It sucked. You're welcome.

**Beer must be brewed on site to qualify as a brewery.

Providence is fortunate enough to have a craft brewery less than a block away from the front doors of their venue (the aforementioned Dunkin' Donuts Center...), while poor Austin Peay has to travel 29 miles and across state lines to sate their thirst. Hampton gets points for having the oddly named Oozlefinch Brewery in their backyard. Additional points to Pitt for having the most unique brewery—an old church turned brewery complete with the brewing system on the altar, right where it should be. I'm taking away points from Texas and Seton Hall for having Anheuser-Busch as their closest brewery.

But what does it mean?!

Much like a 5% brew is the sweet spot for all-day drinking, a team with a brewery within 5 miles is going to pay huge dividends. Those teams won 85% of all games played last year. Don't advance any teams that require a car to drown your sorrows postgame. Of the three teams with the nearest brewery more than 10 miles away, not a single one won a game. No beer and no wins. Talk about a kick to the stones.

Take 'Em: FloridaNorth Carolina, and Middle Tennessee

Leave 'Em: MarylandMiami, and Seton Hall

Ready to test your skills and compete for internet glory? Join the WRNL Bracket Challenge and comment below with your secrets to a successful bracket.