It’s enough to turn the bracket inside out. Purdue may be a No. 2 seed this March, but West Lafayette is a tough sell for adults who aren’t super into Indiana cornfields and wind turbines. Lipscomb and Georgia State are No. 15 seeds, but they’ve got the advantage of being the only representatives from Nashville and Atlanta, respectively, in the entire bracket.
I broke down the bracket through 67 head-to-head matchups, considering everything from climate to city size to friendliness to entertainment and food and drink options. Some larger cities got wiped off the whiteboard early. Others stuck it through to the end. And some home town bias may have played a role as my bracket wore on.
But the results are final and objectively, indubitably, 100 percent correct. Here are your campus city rankings for the 2018 NCAA tournament.
(16) Long Island-Brooklyn over (16) Radford
That Radford certainly is a city, all right!
(16) North Carolina Central over (16) Texas Southern
Durham vs. Houston is a surprisingly tight matchup for a play-in game. But Susan Sarandon never seduced any minor league hotshot pitchers in Texas, at least on camera.
(11) UCLA over (11) St. Bonaventure
I’ve spent entirely too many Spring break weekends in Elmira, NY. You, Allegany, are no Elmira, NY.
(11) Arizona State over (11) Syracuse
Snow is great, but you don’t have to shovel sunlight.
(1) Virginia over (16) Maryland-Baltimore County
All I know about Baltimore is that it inspired famed HBO documentary The Wire and is home to more Ray Lewis sightings than any other city in the nation. Too dangerous.
(8) Creighton over (9) Kansas State
Manhattan, KS is a lovely place, but I’m 85% certain its never hosted a College World Series.
(5) Kentucky over (12) Davidson
Tucked between Charlotte and the NASCAR Technical Institute lies Davidson, North Carolina. While the Charlotte area has plenty to offer, it’s never been called the Horse Capital of the World (or Lexington’s other extremely confusing nickname, ”the Athens of the West.”)
(4) Arizona over (13) Buffalo
Buffalo’s lake effect means months where you get five feet of snowfall. Tuscon’s lake effect is having somewhere to get drunk during spring break.
(6) Miami (FL) over (11) Loyola-Chicago
I really wanted to pick Chicago here. I even prepped a whole rant about how the Italian beef sandwich, and not the deep dish pizza, was the Windy City’s top culinary contribution to society. But when these two teams play Friday, it will be a max of 37 degrees out in Chi-town and a mostly-sunny 76 in Coral Gables, so...
(3) Tennessee over (14) Wright State
Wright State is located in Dayton, OH — the gas station hot dog of American cities.
(10) Texas over (7) Nevada
Austin’s obscene traffic and Reno’s lack of hipster trash nearly helped the higher seed hold on here. But still, I’m not sure this is a world where Reno is the better destination than Austin.
(15) Georgia State over (2) Cincinnati
The best part of Cincinnati is Newport, Kentucky.
(16) NC Central over (1) Xavier
See above RE: Cincinnati
(8) Missouri over (9) Florida State
Two state capitals that are barely top five cities in their own states. Props to the Selection Committee on this one, because it’s a coin toss.
(12) South Dakota State over (5) Ohio State
Brookings, South Dakota has one Chick-Fil-A for 22,000 residents. Columbus, Ohio has three for 860,000. Per capita, this is a blowout for the Jackrabbits.
(4) Gonzaga over (13) UNC-Greensboro
Spokane is better known as the Lilac City. Greensboro is best known as home to the wrong UNC.
(11) San Diego State over (6) Houston
72 and sunny every day vs. a summer that turns every article of clothing you wear into low-grade wetlands.
(14) Montana over (3) Michigan
Ann Arbor is a great college town. Missoula is basically the unspoiled west. I’m fairly certain you can fly fish from your dorm room at UM. Er, the lesser-known UM.
(10) Providence over (7) Texas A&M
College Station has Freebirds, which makes great burritos. Providence is home to the confusingly-named New York System hot weiner, which is simultaneously disgusting and amazing and after writing this it’s all I want to eat forever and ever.
(15) Lipscomb over North Carolina (2)
Chapel Hill is cool. There’s no guarantee you’re gonna hear Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition” at least four times if you go out downtown, though. Advantage: Nashville.
(1) Villanova over (16) Long Island-Brooklyn
“Long Island, Brooklyn” is an acceptable answer to “name two places whose residents you’d hate to be stuck next to for a long flight.”
(8) Virginia Tech over (9) Alabama
Two established college towns in a toss-up. Give me the one whose local fans have yet to become a national stereotype.
(5) West Virginia over (12) Murray State
Burned couches are a stronger cultural indicator than your Charles Dickens festival, Murray, Kentucky.
(13) Marshall over (4) Wichita State
Wichita is home to the world’s first Pizza Hut. Congratulations on defeating doughy, tasteless discs of trash, Marshall.
(11) UCLA over (6) Florida
Southern California offers all the warm weather perks of Florida without any of the hassle of dealing with Florida people (or alligators).
(3) Texas Tech over (14) Stephen F. Austin
Oh cool, two Texas cities I’ll never visit.
(6) Arkansas over (11) Butler
Memorable experiences to have in Indianapolis: a) attending the Indy 500 b) eating at a chain restaurant c) end of list.
(15) Cal-State Fullerton over (2) Purdue
The all-time record low temperature in Fullerton is 30 degrees. Meanwhile, West Lafayette is the product of pioneers wading through acres and acres of flat prairie, getting tired, and saying “f—- it, just put a city here instead.”
(16) Penn over (1) Kansas
Cheesesteaks get all the love, but Moriarty’s in downtown Philadelphia might have the best wings in the country.
(9) NC State over (8) Seton Hall
All New Jersey continues to be good for is full service gas stations. Thank you for making me feel like royalty while I drive the hell out of your strip mall of a state.
(5) Clemson over (12) New Mexico State
How did New Mexico State University even exist before air conditioning?
(13) College of Charleston over (4) Auburn
In downtown Charleston, you’re only 20 minutes from the beach. In downtown Auburn, you’re only 20 minutes from a Wal-Mart.
(6) TCU over (11) Arizona State
It’s a clash-of-the-titans battle between Whataburger and In-n-Out, but Whataburger has breakfast taquitos served all night. Game changer.
(3) Michigan State over (14) Bucknell
(7) Rhode Island over (10) Oklahoma
Kingston, and really any place in South County, Rhode Island, is a welcome getaway from the Warwick and Cranston trash that otherwise soaks its way through the state. I say this as a proud former resident of Warwick. We’re trash.
(2) Duke over (15) Iona
The Duke campus is beautiful, marred only by the sheer volume of Duke students milling around.
(8) Creighton over (1) Virginia
There might not be much to do in Omaha, but at least there are fewer white supremacy rallies.
(4) Arizona over (5) Kentucky
If Lexington really is the “Horse Racing Capital of the World,” how come the Kentucky Derby is in Louisville?
(6) Miami (FL) over (3) Tennessee
Obnoxious locals call Knoxville “KnoxVegas.” This is a terrible name for a city where nothing happens.
(15) Georgia State over (10) Texas
Two great cities with horrible traffic problems and scores of buskers who straddle the line between homeless and hipster. But Georgia State’s football stadium is the old Turner Field, and that’s cool as hell.
(16) North Carolina Central over (8) Missouri
Be honest, Columbia is like, sixth on your mind when it comes to naming cities in Missouri, right?
(4) Gonzaga over (12) South Dakota State
Sorry Brookings, your charming run ends here to the urban monster that is SPOKANE.
(11) San Diego State over (14) Montana
Missoula’s great, but has average fish tacos at best.
(10) Providence over (15) Lipscomb
What no one wants to tell you about Nashville is it gets a little bit worse every year. YES, WE SEE YOU, BACHELORETTE PARTY ON A PEDAL PUB. JUST LIKE THE LAST FIVE. YOU CAN STOP SCREAMING ‘WOO’ AND POINTING PENIS SHAPED STRAWS AT US NOW.
(1) Villanova over (8) Virginia Tech
If Virginia Tech’s fans are so great, why don’t we ever hear about Blacksburg’s lamp posts getting greased up before bowl games?
(5) West Virginia over (13) Marshall
As far as I can tell, Morgantown and Charleston are just palette-swapped versions of each other. West Virginia gets the nod thanks to an entire region’s hatred of the University of Pittsburgh.
(11) UCLA over (3) Texas Tech
You tried, Lubbock.
(15) Cal State-Fullerton over (7) Arkansas
Fayetteville is a pretty great town, but loses points for hosting the lamest party of the year; the annual Wal-Mart stockholders meeting.
(9) NC State over (16) Penn
Raleigh’s just fine, and Philly already has Villanova in the bracket. Sorry, Quakers.
(13) College of Charleston over (5) Clemson
When it’s 88 degrees with 600% humidity in South Carolina, you’ll probably want to be near the beach.
(6) TCU over (3) Michigan State
I imagine every bar patron in Fort Worth acts JUST like the bad guys from Necessary Roughness, and that makes me feel like I’d be accepted there.
(7) Rhode Island over (2) Duke
Oh, you thought we were DONE talking Rhode Island food? You ever had a pizza strip? Coffee milk? Del’s Lemonade. ALL DELICIOUS.
(4) Arizona over (8) Creighton
You had a good run, Omaha, but in the end continued to be Omaha.
(15) Georgia State over (6) Miami (FL)
“I’m just saying there’s no Will Smith song called ‘Atlanta.’ Jermaine Dupri? Who’s that?”
Bonus points for having fewer Pitbull sightings as well.
(4) Gonzaga over (16) North Carolina Central
I honestly had no idea I liked Spokane so much.
(11) San Diego State over (10) Providence
All the Italian food on Federal Hill can’t cover the fact Providence is just discount Boston, only 15% angrier.
(1) Villanova over (5) West Virginia
When you want to take your celebratory vandalism to the next level, you graduate from Morgantown to Philadelphia.
(11) UCLA over (15) Cal State Fullerton
LaVar Ball probably isn’t going to show up in Fullerton anytime soon, but he’s DEFINITELY not going back to UCLA. Point, Bruins.
(13) College of Charleston over (9) NC State
Charleston’s out here, just wrecking the rest of the Carolinas.
(7) Rhode Island over (6) TCU
It’s beaches and coastline and vacation rentals and surprisingly great breweries (not you, Newport Storm) all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean.
(15) Georgia State over (4) Arizona
The average high temperature in Tuscon each June is more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The city is an affront to God.
(11) San Diego State over (4) Gonzaga
Maybe San Diego is just coastal Indianapolis, but the weather’s nice, the food is good, and I ran out of nice things to say about Spokane two rounds ago.
(1) Villanova over (11) UCLA
No wannabe YouTube stars or Instagram models have ever made a big deal out of moving to Philadelphia.
(7) Rhode Island over (13) College of Charleston
To reiterate, southern Rhode Island is the best Rhode Island and I ...might have taken a few classes at URI back in the day. Just let us have this one.
(15) Georgia State over (11) San Diego State
(1) Villanova over (7) Rhode Island
Our final matchup comes down to Philly and Atlanta, just like next year’s NFC title game.
(15) Georgia State over (1) Villanova
Get back to losing, Philly. This was a tossup until it came down to beer...and Sweetwater is a much better brewery than Yards.
So what did my final bracket look like? Well...