Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge

It's one of the best times of the year. Sixty-eight teams have been seeded and designated their opponents and know exactly their path they must take to be the national champions. Everyone always fills out a bracket for these games, knowing all good and well that they are more likely to get every pick wrong than having a perfect bracket. And this year makes it even tougher with people wanting Warren Buffet's $1 billion pay out for a 100 percent perfect bracket! Yea I want a piece of that! So, with this being a uniform blog and all, I thought, "what the heck, let's do a bracket based solely off the teams' uniforms!" And that's exactly what this is. I've drafted twitter friend Corbin Schindler to help me out with all this. We are both doing our own brackets in hopes of choosing the best uniform in the entire league, bracket style. Since I took the task of describing each game (stupid me), my post is very long. You'll get my bracket today and see Corbin's tomorrow.



The goal of this bracket was to go game-by-game and pick the team with the best uniforms. Some were easy, some were extremely difficult, and some, well, you'll see! Without further ado, here's my breakdown of each game by uniforms:

**If I left out a team's uniform or have pictures of old uniforms, please excuse me. Some of the smaller schools were a lot harder than expected trying to gather pictures. I tried my best to find high-quality pictures of every team's different uniforms.**

Round of 64
                                       
South:
  •          Colorado over Pitt because Pitt hasn't worn their gold PANTHERS unis, and Colorado has a gold BUFFS alt
  •       VCU has some nice contrast. I like the blacked out wordmark and the script RAMS on the golds. Even if Steven F. Austin has some really nice UA uniforms. VCU just edges out here.
  •          UCLA over Tulsa because tradition always trumps multiple combos. Even though adidas brought some new sleeved unis for the Bruins, they stay true to the John Wooden era uniforms. Tulsa has nice uniforms, but look too much like the football team's many combination.
  •           Ohio State wins because their red and white uniforms just work perfectly. There's a little too much striping, but somehow the Buckeyes look right in it. Also their grey throwback was a great look.
  •          In one of the closest matchups of the year, Syracuse downs Western Michigan by a buzzer beater. I love Syracuse's slick and modern uniforms. They are the perfect combination of old-school traditionalist and new modernization that's spreading through the sports world. The only reason this game was so close is that W. Michigan has the most beautiful yellow throwbacks in the entire field. Their home white unis aren't half bad either.
  •          7-10 matchups are always tough to pick. Especially here. Stanford has some pretty basic, yet nice, uniforms. The New Mexico Lobos have a unique asymmetrical look that many people despise, yet I love! Asymmetry done correctly!! The one sided Broncos-style stripe wins this matchup!
  •          Small schools are always at a disadvantage when it comes to seeding and uniforms. Eastern Kentucky, a 15 seed, has some really great uniforms. Gotta love the side stripes with logo. Unfortunately, adidas rolled out a new template that added some contrasting color for their teams, and Kansas rocks it. Better yet for the Jayhawks, they added two beautiful throwbacks this season. I love both of these so much. It's going to be tough to beat the Jayhawk's uniform game this season.


East:
  •          Although I really enjoy Coastal Carolina's color scheme, their uniforms are a bit bland and the white and black uniforms just seem to blend too much. On the other hand, Virginia has some decent (not great) uniforms that have somehow given them the power to beat Duke and win the ACC Championship. Uniforms have super powers, we all know it, and sometimes that is a greater aspect than some designs. Super powers take Virginia through the first round, and probably a little further. We'll see.
  •          8-9 seed games are the toughest to predict. Forget all the stats, it's all about uniforms here. Memphis has some really nice, really clean Tiger-striped uniforms that just fit perfectly. On the other hand, George Washington has some great unis, that are just so clean. Great "building block" stripes down the side make for a unique look. I like that they have a GW uniform with a skyline of Washington DC on the back. This one is a tough pick...but I'm going with our 1st president
  •          I gotta say, I'm a pretty big fan of Cincinnati's uniforms. They've changed these a good bit over the years, and I think these are about as perfect as they can get (drop the neck things and its perfect). I'm excited to see the two sleeved sets that adidas has prepared for them. Harvard has some nice Nike uniforms, with a great pair of shorts with a very unique pattern. Unfortunately for the Crimson, their tops are a little too templatic for my liking. Cincy wins.
  •          Here we might have one of the best uniform matchups of the first round, both completely different! Michigan State has always been tough in these tournaments, and their uniforms are a great bonus. They are so clean cut and well done. Don't touch these! They also added two throwbacks from Nike that include a gorgeous STATE script. Unfortunately the block number font (which is historically accurate) takes away from the beauty of the script. Still nice uniforms, just a little tough to get over. Delaware has some really nice uniforms as well. I love their number and wordmark font, very cool to see that on a basketball uniform. The striping down the shorts adds a lot to their whole set. Tough game to choose, but the power house of Michigan State wins.
  •          Have you ever checked out the uniforms you can order for a rec basketball team? They're all pretty much the same, with only minor things and the colors changing. That's pretty much what Providence looks like. Now, they wear it pretty well. They look too much like the Brooklyn Nets for my liking, but still, pretty nice. They might be able to win a game if they were matched up well. Unfortunately, they got the North Carolina Tar Heels, which have some of the best historical uniforms. It's hard to beat Carolina Blue...
  •          Camo doesn’t look good on a sporting uniform on special occasions. Actually, never. So North Carolina Central is already down at halftime with having camo side panels on their uniforms. That's just a no no. Sorry NCC, Iowa State wins this one easily and we don't even have to talk about their unis (I like them).
  •          So, UConn was rebranded before the football season, so that means new basketball uniforms. I've really liked these since I first saw them. St. Joseph's has some pretty nice uniforms. They're pretty plain, but I do like the shorts. Sorry, St Joseph's, you might have been awarded a 10 seed, but there's plenty of teams that deserve that based on uniforms alone. UConn wins easiest 7-10 matchup ever.
  •          I said I wanted to do all this on uniforms alone, but sometimes, like now, when the uniforms are too close to choose, you gotta put the unis aside. I really like Milwaukee's uniforms. I like the gold/yellow and black and the design of everything on their unis. Villanova is pretty nice as well. I like the contrasting side panels and how they match them up with the different uniform base colors. Villanova's 2 seed makes this a lot tougher. If they were more evenly seeded, I might take Milwaukee. But Villanova will not be upset in their opening game.


West:
  •          One thing I like for a uniform is something to break up the monotony of a single color. One thing I hate about a uniform is random striping/piping/whatever. Weber State has both of these. I really like the contrasting color side panels that go all the way from armpit to the bottom of the pant leg. Sadly, they have some random piece of striping that connects the top of the side panel to the bottom of the arm whole. That's a deduction Weber State. You had your work cut out going up against Arizona as a 1 seed, but you didn't make it any easier. Arizona has some great red, white, and blue uniforms with CATS down the pant leg. Wildcats win.
  •          Depending on what direction you look at Gonzaga's uniforms determines how they look. The side panels and striping around that paneling looks great. Sadly, the top and bottom of the stripes have some sort of tab holder, like they are trying to keep everything in order. Like Arizona, they have ZAGS going down the leg. Unlike the Wildcats, these don't work as well. And for their opponent, it's tough not to like Oklahoma State's uniforms. Black, grey, white, and orange. I love the custom font that brings out the Cowboys uniqueness, and also the simplicity with only a single shoulder stripe and COWBOYS on the legs. It'll be a good looking game, but OK State brings home the win.
  •          The first upset of my bracket comes here. The DII football power house of North Dakota State gets the 12-5 upset win over Oklahoma. I love ND State's uniforms. If you look solely at the jerseys, they aren't anything special, extremely templatic. But those shorts! The shorts consist of a Marquette-style half barbershop pole design, adding great contrast and color to these uniforms. Oklahoma on the other bench has some great traditional uniforms in their own right. But isn't there enough red and white in the game already? Time for green and yellow to get a chance! BISON WIN!
  •          San Diego State is another team that just recently went under a rebranding, and they did a great job with the uniforms. Extremely simple, straight-forward, and amazing. The boldness of these uniforms is made even better with the simplicity. NewMexico State has some decent uniforms for themselves. They’re a little bland though. Just look at that wordmark font. Looks like Times New Roman. Could have at least added some bold!! Easy win for SDSU.
  •          An adidas-on-adidas matchup. This will be interesting. Thankfully for both teams, adidas rolled out their new template which added the contrasting shoulders, which looks great on both teams. Also thankfully adidas rolled out their Made in March alternate uniforms for Baylor, if only they could wear them. The NCAA ruled that the Sic'Em Bears uniforms were against regulations, so they'll stay in the locker room. Sadly for Nebraska, it's not enough to give them the win. Baylor's gold, green, highlighter yellow, and white uniforms are a thing of beauty with these shoulders. Nebraska's uniforms are nothing more than the simple template provided by adidas. Baylor looks great and wins while doing so.
  •          I'm a sucker for blue and white uniforms. Creighton looks great to me. I just wish they'd tone down all the stripes. Also, I love funky uniform knowledge. I love Louisiana-Lafayette's RAGIN' CAJUN wordmark consists of a chilly pepper for the apostrophe. That uniqueness is what helps you out here in this challenge. Sadly, it's not enough to guarantee a win. Creighton wins and moves on.
  •          For you that aren't a fan of the football Oregon Ducks, you'll be happy to know the basketball team doesn’t have as many combos. I love the FIGHTING DUCKS' uniforms and how well they wear the bright yellow and green. Their throwbacks from Nike this season were a thing of beauty too. BYU's uniforms are pretty good, but I'm sorry, the Ducks can't be beat in a uniform challenge. Uncle Phil won't allow it.
  •          Wisconsin is another one of those teams that just sits with adidas’ templates and it doesn't do much for them. Their lucky for two reasons. One, adidas gave them two new Made in March uniforms that added some much needed creativity to their sets. And two, they’re up against American University. American's unis are pretty nice, the red, white, and blue unis look great. Sadly, they are as templatic as they come. Badgers get the W.


Midwest:
  •          I'm really not a fan of these play in games, simply because no online bracket is consistent with them. Do you pick that game or not? I don't know, so I'm pretty much skipping them. Wichita State gets off easy. Although they'll be pretty tough to beat with a script SHOCKERS on their yellow tops. It's a great look.
  •          An 8-9 matchup of a team that changes their uniforms pretty much every year (even just slightly) versus a that pretty much has stuck with the same uniforms for the past few years. Kentucky vs Kansas State. It's a tough decision, since I like both uniform sets, but my decision comes down to the fact that purple, black, and grey are just not as good a combo as blue and white (and I'm a sucker for that). Wildcats win...of Kentucky I mean.
  •          Another play-in game, another same result. Sorry to NC State or Xavier, which ever happens to get in, you'll have a tough time getting by Saint Louis's uniforms. It's tough to beat these beauties.
  •          Sometimes you just get a rough draw. People were upset with Louisville being a 4 seed. Well, I'm upset that Manhattan has to play Louisville! Manhattan has some great old-school uniforms, much like Milwaukee. Unfortunately for them, they have to play another team that adidas made look good with the contrasting shoulders and the new Made in March uniforms, even with sleeves. If Manhattan was playing nearly anyone else, they'd get this win. Sorry guys. Would love to be proved wrong though...
  •          Again, not a fan of picking play-in games. Expecting one team getting in and them losing can ruin an entire bracket!! This matchup is probably the toughest to pick. Iowa and Tennessee are playing for the right to play UMass. None of these teams have any special uniforms. So I'm taking the easy way out and just going with UMass so I don't have to worry about what the other team will be.
  •          Mercer had a great run to win their conference championship. Their uniforms sadly didn't help them much after that. I like being unique and all, but having shade on shade for an athletic uniform just doesn't work well. Worse part of it all? They have to play Duke. The Blue Devils' uniforms are just classic. Hard to pick against Dukey and Coach K.
  •          Texas is pretty much just like Oklahoma when it comes to uniforms, they both have had the same look for a long time. It still amazes me a team can get by with only two basketball uniforms in this day in age. Arizona State on the other hand went under a rebranding a few years ago and has some awesome uniforms. Win for Sparky.
  •          Remember how I said I wasn't a fan of templatic uniforms? Well, sorry Wofford, you just made everything in your path to a championship so much harder. I just can't get behind these uniforms, I'm sorry. It doesn't make anything better when you have to go up against Michigan, which is another one of those aforementioned adidas teams. Wolverines win to round out the Round of 64.


Now on to the Round of 32

South:
  •          The Florida Gators got by easily in Round 1 because of the play-in games. This time is a little tougher as they go up against Colorado. I really like Colorado's uniforms, it did get them through their game against Pitt after all. But sadly for the Buffalos, the Gators' uniforms work better. Gotta love these, especially when they break out the all-orange. It could blind you. Gators move on to the Sweet 16.
  •          VCU-UCLA, a 5-4 matchup, a tough one to pick. New uniforms with some cool aspects (blacked out VCU, script RAMS on gold) versus the traditional look of the gold and blue Bruins. Hmm...It’s tough, but tradition wins out in my books nine times out of ten. UCLA moves on.
  •          The South region is no slacker in teams! Now I have a 3-6 matchup with Syracuse-Ohio State. As far as teams go, this will be a wonderful game to watch. But for uniforms, I've got to go with the Orange, hands down.
  •          You guys should know by now I like what adidas did with their uniforms this season. Plus, I don't think a throwback could get any better than what Kansas has been wearing. Even though I like New Mexico and their odd uniforms, I can't go against the Jayhawks.


East:
  •          As much as I want to, I just can't see George Washington upsetting Virginia. The GW D.C. skyline uniform may have helped them last round, but it feels a year or two ago since Nike did it. Virginia wins based on that solely. My confidence in the Cavilers' uniforms may be waning...
  •          Big 10 versus American Conference. Cincy versus Sparty. New and interesting versus classically bold and beautiful. Sorry Bearcats, Michigan State gets the thumbs up from me.
  •          Here's one spot where I break my rule of strictly uniforms only. I do love UNC's uniforms and that Carolina Blue is extremely tough to beat. But I've liked what Iowa State revealed before the season and really like how they've been playing basketball. They may be the team to beat out here. Cyclones to the Sweet 16.
  •          The further I go with these every year, the tougher they get with the higher seeds. UConn, even being a 7 seed, is not going to be a team to overlook. Although I like their uniforms, I just can't go against 2 seed Villanova.



West:
  •          If Arizona can lose to Oregon (who's very good), they can certainly lose to Oklahoma State. I've always enjoyed seeing the Cowboys play and their uniforms, but very little can touch Arizona's clean cut uniforms.
  •          I'm calling the upset right now!! North Dakota State gets the win over San Diego State in the 4-12 matchup! I seriously can't go against these unis of the Bison. They quite possibly have the best uniforms in the bracket. Just hope your team doesn't have to go up against them!
  •          Baylor's a great team, but they’re a little streaky. Creighton is an even better team. I'm saddened I won’t get to see Baylor wear their Sic'Em unis against the blue and white Blue Jays. I think Baylor may be slightly better uni-wise than Creighton, but the lack of sleeved alternates that adidas made specifically for them is a downgrade. Sorry Bears, Blue Jays win.
  •          I've watched Oregon a few times this year, and think they could easily beat any team out there. Wisconsin is a team I haven't watched much of. But that's the point of this, I don't have to!! Sorry Badgers, even with adidas' help, your uniforms are too boring and similar to too many teams. The Fighting Ducks fight to the Sweet 16.


Midwest:
  • One thing I really like in a team's uniforms is when they have some differences in their uniforms just more than colors. That's why I really like Wichita State's script SHOCKERS unis. Yes, being a 1 seed over an 8 seed, even if it is Kentucky, helps, but with Kentucky's problems and their lack of unique uniforms, the Shockers shock the Wildcats with a big win.
  • It's so hard to go against Rick Petino. It's tough to go against the uniforms of Saint Louis. A 4-5 matchup doesn't make this any easier. Adidas having fun with the defending champ that's been playing well, or a team with a nice uniform that hasn't been playing their best........Cardinals win.
  • I said earlier UMass doesn't have anything special with their uniforms. And now they go up against Duke. Must I say any more? Dukies win.
  • I've been a fan of almost anything Arizona State has done since their rebranding with Nike a few years ago. Except when they are a 10 seed up against 2 seed Michigan. Adidas fixed these uniforms with their Made in March uniforms, so that's how I'm going. Blue and Maze move on.


Sweet 16

South:
  •          I've been high on UCLA this entire time, but sometimes too much of a good thing is not the best. Florida has the upper hand here, and gets the win.
  •          A matchup of two teams that I've loved so far, Syracuse and Kansas, 3 seed a 2. I could go back and forth forever, but I have to make a choice. Going with Kansas simply because of those throwbacks.


East:
  •          I really thought Virginia could go all the way, then they met Michigan State. Sparty couldn't control themselves and just ran all over the Cavs uniforms. Sparty won with a great big smile. Fin.
  •          Villanova has seriously only gotten this far because of their seeding, and that's sad with who they've beaten. Well, not any longer. Iowa State comes in and gives them the toughest test of the tournament and the Cyclones move on to the Elite 8.


West:
  •          Now's the hardest test for ND State...Arizona. I've been so high on the Bison's uniforms. About as high as their seeding (12). Now that they've reached the top team in the region, I'm not sure how far they can go. We all know the Bison will probably be the best looking team on the court, but a 1-12 seeding is tough to overcome. 'Zona.
  •          Blue and white or funky colors. Creighton or Oregon....hmmm.....Blue Jays.


Midwest:
  •          There's only so much shock in the world. Sometimes the shocker becomes the shockee. Louisville shocks the Shockers to move on.
  •          A great matchup as always, Duke and Michigan. Sometimes having many uniforms can play into your favor. You better thank adidas Michigan...


Elite 8:

South:
  •          Florida-Kansas. Veterans versus freshman. Gotta go with the SEC, sorry beautiful throwbacks. See you next year.


East:
  •          Two states, Michigan State and Iowa State. Simply the fact that I saw what Iowa State can do to a team (when Auburn went up there), I'm going with the Cyclones.


West:
  •          What would win in a fight? A Blue Jay or a Wildcat? Well, thankfully we just get to watch a basketball game to decide that. Gotta go with the power conference team, Arizona.


Midwest:
  •          Well, this isn't the matchup adidas would like to see. They hate it more since a sleeved team could win and go on, or lose and not have their sleeved unis in the Final Four...Sleeved or not...Louisville or Michigan...2 seed or 4...I'm going with the team that actually won their conference. Louisville.
Final Four
  •          Iowa State and Florida's uniforms are pretty much on the same level. But I'm sticking one team slightly above the other. Can you guess? ..........ISU Cyclones!
  •          I personally think Louisville should have been anything but a 4 seed. 2 seed would have been perfect in my mind. How does that affect the game against a 1 seed Arizona? It makes it tougher that's for sure. The Cardinals have just been playing too well to go against them.


Championship game
  •          Well, they may not be the best two sets of uniforms in the entire field, but they certainly are pretty good. I don't want to make this a Nike versus Adidas thing, but that's how this will come down. Adidas has had a history of having odd templates. They just do things that don't make much sense. Just do it to do it. Nike has been pretty underwhelming sometimes. But I really like both of these teams and how they wear these templates. But, I'm going with the one team I personally watched on TV. Say hello to your 2014 National Champions:


                                                    IOWASTATE CYCLONES!


Congrats to the Iowa State Cyclones for winning their first ever National Championship! Like I said earlier, I've seen what these guys can do. And they've been playing great as of late. I'm sure a lot of people are surprised with this pick, and you know what? They'll surprise a lot of people in this tournament!!

This is easily one of my longest posts. If you happened to skip everything above just to see my champion, I can't say I blame you. If you haven't yet, be sure to sign up for the Auburn Uniform Database Bracket Challenge group on ESPN (if you read this before the deadline)! You can click on that link and check out everyone else's picks once the first game has begun. I'll be sure to share part of my $1 billion prize!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Corbin's breakdown of his choices!


War Eagle and Happy March Madness!!

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