Duke editors try hand with NCAA Tournament brackets

Adam Lindner / Sports Editor | The Duke’s bracket entries for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, taped to the newsroom’s wall.
Adam Lindner / Sports Editor | The Duke’s bracket entries for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, taped to the newsroom’s wall.

Adam Lindner | Sports Editor

March 28, 2019

Each March, the NCAA Tournament demands the nation’s attention, decreasing work productivity in the process. Besides, who has time for anything else when there are games to catch, brackets to complete and madness to witness?

In the friendly confines of The Duke’s newsroom, things are no different. In keeping with an annual tradition, each of The Duke’s editors completed March Madness brackets. This year, however, we’ve decided to share bracket pool updates with readers.

While some are faring a bit better than others, it’s important to remember that each bracket is beautiful in its own right. No bracket is ever perfect, so instead of critiquing entries based off of overall success, try to appreciate the individuality of each bracket.

Following the tournament’s first weekend, News Editor Hallie Lauer currently leads the newsroom’s bracket pool, followed closely by Editor-in-Chief Kailey Love. Last year’s champion, A&E Editor Josiah Martin, and Sports Editor Adam Lindner slot in behind leaders Lauer and Love, respectively.

Photo Editor Katia Faroun and Layout Editor Madison Pastrick had solid first weekends, but both selected teams to advance to their bracket’s championship that have since been eliminated from the tournament.

Opinions Editor Ollie Gratzinger’s bracket got off to a bit rough start, but he still has three of his Final Four teams remaining (Duke, Gonzaga, Houston).

Features Editor Griffin Sendek wasn’t quite as lucky. Boasting what’s assuredly the newsroom’s most distinctive bracket, Sendek chose No. 8 seed VCU, No. 13 Vermont, No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 9 Washington to advance to his Final Four. VCU, Vermont and Cincinnati went a collective 0-3 in the tourney, while Washington topped No. 8 seed Utah State before falling to UNC, the Midwest region’s top seed, days later.

Lauer, Love, Martin and Lindner each have their Final Fours intact. Pastrick (Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue) and Faroun (LSU, Gonzaga, Houston) each have three of their four final teams remaining. Faroun, however, selected since-eliminated UC Irvine to win the tournament. Pastrick’s champion, Duke, is still alive.

Overall, three people picked Gonzaga to win the championship (Lauer, Love, Lindner), while two others selected Duke (Martin, Pastrick). Gratzinger picked Houston, while Sendek went with Washington.

Duke and Gonzaga were the newsroom’s most popular Final Four selections. Six people penciled in either the Blue Devils or the Bulldogs to advance to the tournament’s final weekend.

The South region saw the most parity amongst Final Four picks. Lauer and Martin selected No. 2 seed Tennessee to advance out of the region, while Love and Lindner picked top-seeded Virginia. Pastrick has No. 3 Purdue in the final weekend, while both Faroun and Gratzinger picked No. 13 UC Irvine. Sendek had No. 7 Cincinnati to advance.

With Sweet 16 play set to begin today, Lauer leads all brackets with 13 of her Sweet 16 remaining. Lauer’s only misses came on Michigan State, Virginia and Purdue. Love still has 12 of her final 16 teams remaining, missing on Texas Tech, Michigan, Oregon and Auburn.

Lindner and Faroun each have 11 of their final 16 teams remaining. Martin follows with 10, then Pastrick with eight, Sendek with seven and Gratzinger with six.

With only two teams seeded lower than No. 4 advancing beyond the first weekend (No. 5 Auburn and No. 12 Oregon), the tournament’s higher seeds have largely prevailed so far this year.

Nevertheless, each editor possesses at least one stellar upset pick.

Perhaps the most notable selections were Lauer and Sendek’s Oregon picks. The Ducks were the only double-digit seeded team to advance beyond the first weekend, yet Lauer and Sendek managed to predict the Ducks’ run.

Here are some other notable selections and trends seen in The Duke’s bracket pool.

— Outstandingly, six of the Duke’s eight editors correctly predicted the UC Irvine upset win over No. 4 seed Kansas State. Sendek and Pastrick were the only two editors that had picked the Wildcats to prevail. However, four editors had Irvine advancing beyond the first weekend. Following the Anteaters’ triumph over K-State, Irvine fell to No. 12 Oregon in the second round.

— Faroun was the only editor that correctly picked No. 9 UCF over No. 8 VCU.

— Lauer and Lindner are the only two editors that have No. 5 Auburn in the Sweet 16. After a close win over No. 12 New Mexico State in the first round, Auburn dominated No. 4 Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16.

— No editor correctly predicted No. 10 Iowa’s win over No. 7 Cincinnati.

— Only Martin and Lindner correctly picked No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse.

— The majority of editors correctly predicted No. 12 Liberty’s win over No. 5 Mississippi State. Lauer, Love, Martin, Lindner and Faroun picked the Flames over the Bulldogs.