Earth-M bracketology

What if every game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were won by the school with the better math department?  A group of us put together the alternate-universe bracket above to find out.  Note that the rules of the game forbade us from looking up anything on the Internet, so there are doubtless some matchups where our judgments are questionable or outright wrong.  If there’s a choice that really offends you, please be assured that it was the responsibility of McReynolds.

I couldn’t figure out how to make the image look nice:  if you can’t read the above, here’s a cleaner version.

Update: After one day of play, our bracket is at the 2.9th percentile of the 4 million entrants to ESPN’s bracket contest.  The plan is to make back lots of points when Cal beats Duke.

Update: Back up to 20.6% — thanks, Cornell!

Update: Northern Iowa knocks out Kansas, who we tossed in the first round, and Washington cruises past #3 seed New Mexico to make the Sweet Sixteen, just as we predicted; and we stand at 46.2%.

Update: Guh.  Three of my final four are out.  Back to 3.9%.  It’s all up to you now, Ohio State.

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17 thoughts on “Earth-M bracketology

  1. Graham says:

    Hey! I disagree with some of your picks! I accuse you of Being Wrong On The Internet.

  2. JSE says:

    I’ll bet I know which one! It was controversial. Whenever we weren’t sure we used the metric “how many total people can we name at dept X” which weighted things very unfairly, given the crowd, towards number theorists and geometric group theorists.

  3. Michael Lugo says:

    I’ll admit that when I randomly come across college sports contents on TV, this is how I decide who to root for. (For the most part. I’d probably root for Temple in the Temple-Cornell game, because my parents went to Temple.) But I generally don’t watch college sports; I suspect this has something to do with being from Philadelphia, where we have all four major pro sports.

    And when I was sending out job applications, a few months ago, I found myself watching the ticker at the bottom of the screen on ESPN in some restaurant and asking myself “did I apply there?”

  4. Dirty Davey says:

    Nice to see Duke dropping out good and early.

  5. Jim Bryan says:

    I would put UNM over Montana.

    I actually did this some years ago in my yearly pool — put in a second bracket of math picks. It wasn’t half bad. It was in a year when Maryland and Texas and Cal were all high seeded teams. I think my final 4 had those 3 and Duke.

  6. UMD math totally beats OSU math and UMN math, but loses to California.

  7. Noah Snyder says:

    Oddly enough most of the controversial comparisons seem to involve Wisconsin! Namely, Cornell, Texas, and OSU.

    US News’s math grad school rankings go: Cornell at 13, Wisconsin and Texas tied at 14, and then OSU much further down at 33. A skew towards number theory is definitely messing up your OSU ranking.

  8. Adolfo says:

    In most rankings (including US News’s math grad school) Minnesota comes way before OSU. But Minnesota strong points are Analysis an PDE (although I am a UMN alumnus working in Algebraic Geometry).

    Thus, without the number theory bias Jordan admits, maybe the final should be Minnesota-Wisconsin.

    But of course I am also biased, since maybe Maryland beats OSU and I have not checked Maryland vs UMN.

    P. S. Watching the NCAA tournament is one of my fondest memories of the US.

  9. Wisconsin beats Texas? In your dreams, Jordan. I am sure Ben McReynolds would not have committed this sacrilege.

  10. harrison says:

    What’s surprising to me is the lack of first-round matchups where both schools have really strong math departments. (Second round is another matter, though — Cornell-Wisconsin?!)

  11. […] to write about, but this is too timely: Jordan Ellenberg has filled out an NCAA bracket based on who has the best department of mathematics. I am proud to say that my two almae matres (disclosure: I had to look up the plural in Wikipedia), […]

  12. JP says:

    BYU over Florida? Are you sure there was a group theorist in the room when you did this?

  13. JSE says:

    No disrespect to Prof. Thompson is meant. Between the three of us more BYU faculty were named. Rules is rules and Fields Medals didn’t count extra.

  14. Clay says:

    The real question, Felipe, is which math department would win in actual basketball? Legend has it Tate is a total baller, so I gotta go with Texas at least into the final four!

  15. JSE says:

    I will dunk over Ben-Zvi, any time, any place.

  16. DBM says:

    So much for Cal as champs. Felipe, I did not pick Wisconsin over Texas. I was out numbered.

  17. DBM says:

    That last day was brutal.

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