Picking the NCAA March Madness Tournament by Travel Destinations

While it’s not completely related to travel, expat life, or teaching English in Spain, I figured I would complete an NCAA Tournament Bracket in honor of March Madness. I am a huge college basketball fan, but typically follow my favorite team the Marquette University Golden Eagles. They had a bad year and aren’t in the tournament. Therefore, my interest as dropped off considerably. Instead of picking teams on who should win, I’ve decided to rank my teams based on places I’d rather travel to. I decided my “winners” based on:

  1. Doing a simple Google search for “Best things to do in ____.” (The blank is filled in by the city where the university or college is located.)
  2. My prior knowledge of the city or town.

Obviously, there’s nothing scientific as to what is or is not the better place to travel to; it’s simply how I feel about the places the schools are located in. I tried to take the first thing to do that Google found. However, for some of the smaller cities and towns dig a little deeper as a quick Google search didn’t offer much. Whether or not I had been to the city played a minimal role in my decisions.

2014 NCAA March Madness Bracket (Source)

2014 NCAA March Madness Bracket (Source)

South Bracket

1 Florida vs 16 Albany/Mt. St. Mary’s

While I’m not huge into museums, Gainesville, Florida’s Natural History Museum beats out the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York – a set of government buildings – and Emmitsburg, Maryland’s Stone House – part of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Winner: Florida

8 Colorado vs 9 Pittsburgh

Boulder, Colorado offers up the Pearl Street Mall, which is a four block pedestrian mall lined with restaurants and shops. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gives us the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. I’ve heard Boulder being referred to as a “rich hippy town,” which sounds much more interesting than another museum. Sorry Pittsburgh. Maybe it was just bad placement right after Florida. I’m sure your museums are great! Winner: Colorado

5 VCU vs 12 Stephen F. Austin

Hmmm….Richmond, Virginia against Nacogdoches, Texas. Google turns up the University of Richmond as the top place to see, so I’ll go with Nacogdoches because who doesn’t love saying that! Plus, it’s warmer, and there’s still snow on the ground outside my window. Winner: Stephen F. Austin

Plus with this as your mascot, how could I not pick them? (Source)

Plus with this as your mascot, how could I not pick them? (Source)

4 UCLA vs 13 Tulsa

Los Angeles, California with Disneyland, Hollywood, and everything else beats out Tulsa, home of the Tulsa Zoo and just south of what was once the world’s largest McDonald’s. Great claim to fame! Winner: UCLA

6 Ohio State vs 11 Dayton

I knew little about both Columbus and Dayton, Ohio. Google’s initial search seems like Dayton has cool museums with the National Museum of the United States Air Force. However, a top-notch college town like Columbus cannot be passed up. There’s got to be fun things there, even if it is just a party or five…? Winner: Ohio State

3 Syracuse vs 14 Western Michigan

Syracuse, New York offers an upstate New York that few experience as they usually head straight for New York City. Kalamazoo, Michigan “things to do,” according to Google, are Western Michigan University, Air Zoo, and the Gilmore Car Museum. Neither has much appeal to me in all honesty, but I’ll choose Syracuse as the college town wins me over again. Winner: Syracuse

7 New Mexico vs 10 Stanford

Albuquerque, New Mexico or Palo Alto, California? Good weather: check. Lots to do: check. I think most would say Palo Alto, but my heart is leaning Albuquerque. It seems more up and coming, less expensive, and less explored. Winner: New Mexico


Albuquerque (Source)

2 Kansas vs 15 Eastern Kentucky

Well, there’s limited things listed to do in Richmond, Kentucky, so I’ll go with Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a college town where they have a great downtown and lots to do. Plus, there are hills, whereas Kansas is otherwise flatter than a pancake…literallyWinner: Kansas

Round 2

Boulder over Gainesville – Colorado

Los Angeles over Nacogdoches – UCLA

Columbus over Syracuse – Ohio State

Albuquerque over Lawrence – New Mexico

Sweet 16

Boulder over Los Angeles – Colorado

Albuquerque over Columbus – New Mexico

Elite 8

Boulder over Albuquerque – Colorado


Boulder (Source)

East Bracket

1 Virginia vs 16 Coastal Carolina

Conway, South Carolina. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Let’s go with Charlottesville, Virginia and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. Winner: Virginia

8 Memphis vs 9 George Washington

Wow! This one is tough. Washington D.C., which I just visited in December or Memphis, Tennessee. I’ll take Memphis for the sole fat that I haven’t been there before, even though I adore D.C. Winner: Memphis


Memphis (Source)

5 Cincinnati vs 12 Harvard

Cambridge, Massachusetts located right across the river from Boston has plenty to do and see from the Freedom Trail to simply seeing Harvard alone. Not that Cincinnati doesn’t have anything to offer, but I’ll take Harvard. Winner Harvard

4 Michigan State vs 13 Delaware

Lansing, Michigan is my pick. No offense to the Blue Hens of Delaware. Winner: Michigan State

6 North Carolina vs 11 Providence

Chapel Hill, North Carolina or Providence, Rhode Island. Google gives me primarily seeing the campus of the University of North Carolina, so let’s go with Providence. Winner: Providence


Providence (Source)

3 Iowa State vs 14 North Central Carolina

Ames, Iowa is where a good friend of mine went to school and loved it. In fact, I was looking at graduate school there for a while, so Ames it is. Sorry Durham, North Carolina. Winner: Iowa State

7 Connecticut vs 10 St. Joseph’s

While Connecticut is an excellent institution and the only one in the US to offer a Master’s in Puppet Arts, I’ll take Philadelphia over Storrs, Connecticut anyway. Winner: St. Joseph’s

2 Villanova vs 15 Milwaukee

My hometown against Philadelphia. Well, maybe it’s just another bad placement, but I’ll go with Milwaukee. There is plenty to do is the not so often visited city, but from tailgating to Summerfest Milwaukee is filled with exciting and usually cheap things to do. Winner: Milwaukee


Milwaukee (Source)

Round 2

Memphis over Charlottesville – Memphis

Cambridge over East Lansing – Harvard

Providence over Ames – Providence

Philadelphia over Milwaukee – St. Joseph’s

Sweet 16

Cambridge over Memphis – Harvard

Philadelphia over Providence – St. Joseph’s

Elite 8

Philadelphia over Cambridge – St. Joseph’s (if it was actually Boston, I would have sided with Harvard)


Philadelphia (Source)

West Bracket

1 Arizona vs 16 Weber State

Ogden, Utah vs. Tucson, Arizona. Touché basketball matchmakers. I’ve been to Tucson before, so I’ll side with Ogden and it’s nearby mountains. Maybe I could show off my subpar skiing skills. Winner: Weber State


Ogden (Source)

8 Gonzaga vs 9 Oklahoma State

Spokane, Washington is the winner over Stillwater, Oklahoma in my eyes. One word: nature. Washington has a more exciting climate to me. Winner: Gonzaga

5 Oklahoma vs 12 North Dakota State

Norman, Oklahoma or Fargo, North Dakota. This is the opposite of the previous “tough” matchup. I’ll go Fargo. It’s less explored and probably has some really interesting sights opposed to just having a movie named after it. Winner: North Dakota State

4 San Diego State vs 13 New Mexico State

I’m sure Las Cruces is a beautiful city, but come on, San Diego? Winner: San Diego

6 Baylor vs 11 Nebraska

I’ll lean Waco, Texas over Lincoln, Nebraska since I’ve often heard Lincoln referred to as a less cool Madison, Wisconsin. Winner: Baylor

3 Creighton vs 14 Lousiana-Lafayette

Omaha, Nebraska wins it for me because I could visit my Uncle there, even though my mouth is watering thinking of the cajun food in Lafayette, Louisiana. After all, their team is named the Ragin’ Cajuns. Winner: Creghton

7 Oregon vs 10 Brigham Young

Provo, Utah has some perks that really interest me, but you’re matched up against Eugene, Oregon. I’d love to explore the wilderness around the city and run Pre’s Trail. Sorry Brigham Young. Maybe next year…Winner: Eugene


Eugene (Source)

2 Wisconsin vs 15 American

Washington D.C., one of my all-time favorites, or Madison, Wisconsin, a hip college town with plenty to offer. year-round. I’m actually sitting hear trying to figure out what to type because it’s so tough. Let’s go D.C. Winner: American

Round 2

Spokane over Ogden – Gonzaga

San Diego over Fargo – San Diego State

Omaha over Waco – Creighton

Eugene over Washington D.C. – Oregon

Sweet 16

San Diego over Spokane – San Diego State

Eugene over Omaha – Oregon

Elite 8

San Diego over Eugene – San Diego State


San Diego (Source)

Midwest Bracket

1 Wichita State vs 16 California Poly/Texas Southern

San Luis Obispo, California and Cal Poly wins it for me. Moving on. Winner: Cal Poly

8 Kentucky vs 9 Kansas State

Manhattan, Kansas or Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington seems fun and probably has a great atmosphere given all the school pride. Winner: Kentucky

5 St. Louis vs 12 North Carolina State/Xavier

St. Louis’ Arch tops Raleigh, North Carolina and Cincinnati. Plus, their mascot is a Billiken. Whatever that is? Winner: St. Louis


St. Louis (Source)

4 Louisville vs 13 Manhattan

Louisville, Kentucky is an up and coming city with a newer arts and entertainment district, while Manhattan is actually located in Bronx, New York. I’ll lean Bronx…errrr, I mean Manhattan. Winner: Manhattan

6 Massachusetts vs 11 Iowa/Tennessee

Iowa City, Knoxville, Tennessee, or Amherst, Massachusetts. If only for the sake that Cat Gaa of Sunshine and Siestas went there, I’ll chose that. Winner: Iowa

3 Duke va 14 Mercer

Durham North Carolina (once again) or Macon, Georgia. After doing a quick search, Durham seems to offer more cultural amenities. Winner: Duke

7 Texas vs 10 Arizona State

Austin, Texas and Tempe, Arizona. Both great college towns with a lot of fun things to offer any traveler. Austin is the winner though. Winner: Texas


Austin (Source)

2 Michigan vs 15 Wofford

Ann Arbor, Michigan and the nearby Henry Ford Museum beat out Spartanburg, South Carolina’s warm weather. Winner: Michigan

Round 2

San Luis Obispo over lexington – Cal Poly

St. Louis over Bronx – St. Louis

Iowa City over Durham – Iowa

Austin over Ann Arbor – Texas

Sweet 16

San Luis Obispo over St. Louis – Cal Poly

Austin over Iowa City – Texas

Eilte 8

San Luis Obispo over Austin – Cal Poly


San Luis Obispo (Source)

Final Four

Boulder over Philadelphia – Colorado

San Diego over San Luis Obispo – San Diego State

Boulder over San Diego. And your Champion is…Colorado!


Boulder, Colorado (Source)

Sorry for the long and potentially boring post, as it’s rather unrelated to most of mine. I just thought it’d be something fun to do.

What are some places you’d like to travel to next in the United States?


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