Grading the March Madness Underdogs - Part 1

March 14, 2016 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

The NCAA Tournament is upon us and now everywhere folks are working feverishly to fill out their brackets. You will spend more time and effort on that lame ass office pool than you probably will on that report you were supposed to have ready last week, but that's neither here nor there. What you want to know is, what schools are most primed to pull off the upset? A 12 knocking off a 5 seed. A 13 shocking a 4. Hell maybe we'll even get a 14 or 15 seed pulling off the rare stunner. And what if, just what if a lowly 16 did the impossible and- .... nah let's not push our luck here.

I'm here today to take a closer look at these underdog schools in the 12 through 16 seeds and grade them on various strengths and weaknesses. Will this help you in filling out your bracket? Not a fucking chance!

No I'm gonna be grading completely arbitrary bullshit for each school and giving you a well-rounded but totally pointless assessment of them. Each school will be graded on the following

  1. Nickname - Does it make sense? Is it badass or lame?
  2. Notable Alumni - I'm just picking one. It's not quantity, it's quality here.
  3. Indigenous Bears Nearby - This is pretty self-explanatory
  4. Resume Prestige - Does this school look good on your resume?
  5. Proximity to my house - Can I drive there, or do I need to get on a god damn plane?
  6. Name Brevity - This is serious. I have no time for your 9 syllable school. This isn't Serbia.
  7. Elevation above sea level - The higher the better, because... melting ice caps or something.

For the first part of this series I will be grading the 12 seeds.

The 12 Seeds

South Dakota State

Where the fuck is this? 
Brookings, South Dakota. They play in the Summit League.

1. Nickname - Jackrabbits. It's not exactly an intimidating nickname but I give them points for not being your generic Tiger or Bulldog. According to Wikipedia jackrabbits were a common game animal in pioneer times but their extremely lean meat made it a "poor choice as a survival food." Oh holy shit there's a whole other article on "Rabbit starvation." C+

2. Notable Alumni - Adam Vinatieri. A pretty well known NFL kicker, but a kicker nonetheless. C+

3. Indigenous Bears Nearby - Brookings is on the east edge of the state and while I'm sure a rogue black bear may roam down that way, my sources say it's a pretty bear-free area. F

4. Resume Prestige - It's apparently one of the top research universities in the Midwest so I'm sure it doesn't look too shabby on the ol' resume. Plus they claim to have invented Cookies and Cream ice cream. I feel like 18 other schools claim that too though. B

5. Proximity To My House - Google Maps says it would take close to 7 hours for me to drive there. I bet I could do it in 6. B-

6. Name Brevity - 3 words, 5 syllables. It's borderline wordy but still not a hassle. Abbreviating it to SDSU isn't a time saver and you run the risk of having assholes think you mean San Diego State instead, and nobody wants to be compared to those shitheads. C+

7. Elevation Above Sea Level - Approximately 1,621 feet. That's barely passing Jackrabbits. D-



Where the fuck is this? 
New Haven, Connecticut. An Ivy League school.

1. Nickname - Bulldogs. Boring. There's like 76 schools with that nickname. You do have an edge over some of your other Ivy counterparts that just have a god damn color for a nickname. C-

2. Notable Alumni - Well shit. There's a laundry list a mile long here. I'll go with Paul Newman though. He always seemed like a pretty awesome guy and "Cool Hand Luke" is a great movie. A

3. Indigenous Bears Nearby - The black bear does have habitat in the upper northern reaches of Connecticut. C-

4. Resume Prestige - It's Yale jackass. People fake having gone there just to look better. A

5. Proximity To My House - Close to 17 hours in the car. That's rough but I have drove that in a day. It passes, barely. D

6. Name Brevity - It's four god damn letters. Can't get much better than that. A-

7. Elevation Above Sea Level - 59 feet. Dang and you were doing so well! F



Where the fuck is this? 
Chattanooga, Tennessee obviously. They play in the Southern Conference or SoCon.

1. Nickname - Mocs. This was shortened from "Moccasins." Was this an insensitive name or something? I just think of the hippy slippers people wear but maybe there's more to it. Supposedly the shortened version also refers to the mockingbird which is Tennessee's state bird. It could also be confused with this guy.  D+

2. Notable Alumni - Dennis Haskins. Yep, Mr. Belding himself is a Moc. B+

3. Indigenous Bears Nearby - Yeah, they're close to some prime black bear territory. B-

4. Resume Prestige - Jeez, I don't know. To get a better answer I deferred to fellow bartender and University of Tennessee alum Shooter Muldoon:
"I mean, I guess it's maybe the 4th best institution in the state, and it's not Massachusetts or California. It's not a bad school though."
 Sounds like a slightly above average endorsement to me. C+

5. Proximity To My House - Like an 11 and a half hour drive. Probably closer to 12 when you factor in all the stops at fireworks stores and Waffle Houses. C

6. Name Brevity - It's one word but it's 4 syllables. They did shorten it from Tennessee-Chattanooga so that's a bonus. Also if people there don't call it "The Noog" they should. B-

7. Elevation Above Sea Level - 676 feet. I'm disappointed. F


Arkansas-Little Rock

Where the fuck is this? 
Even more explanatory than the previous school. They're in the powerhouse known as the Sun Belt.

1. Nickname - Trojans. Any nickname that makes me think of USC is not one I care for. D+

2. Notable Alumni - Derek Fisher. I can't decide if this is better or worse than Adam Vinatieri. Better just play it safe and grade it the same. C+

3. Indigenous Bears Nearby - There are black bears in Arkansas but mostly in the northwest part of the state. Little Rock is in the center. C+

4. Resume Prestige - It is Arkansas for starters and it's not even the main Arkansas school. If you're hyphenated there's probably always a better version elsewhere. C-

5. Proximity To My House - About an 11 hour drive. C

6. Name Brevity - Maybe take a page from The Noog and drop the Arkansas? Hyphenated schools are a hassle. D+

7. Elevation Above Sea Level - 335 feet. F

FINAL GPA: 1.56 - Maybe consider trade school instead?