Wednesday 25 April 2018

Bracketology: Social Media Style

It’s finally time to play.

After a grueling regular season and months of predictions, upsets, excitement and drama, 68 teams are embarking on the three-week adventure that has come to be known as “March Madness” – the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

And while Jeff Hathaway and the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee announced the official bracket on Sunday, fans from across the globe weighed-in immediately with opinions, enthusiasm, disappointment and predictions via their social media channels.

In order to have some fun with the incredible volume of social media conversation on Selection Sunday, Edelman Digital partnered with social media analytics and reporting firm Simply Measured to monitor the conversation on Twitter and create a unique bracket with the teams seeded by how often they were mentioned that day. Here’s what the bracket would look like based on social media buzz versus the Committee’s seeding process:

social media bracketThe bracket was created by monitoring and analyzing conversation on Twitter on Sunday, March 11, capturing every tweet that used an NCAA Tournament-specific hashtag including #MarchMadness, #NCAA, #FinalFour, #Final4, #SelectionSunday, BarkAtBilas and #CollegeHoops. When the selections were complete and the official bracket was in place, the volume of conversation about the 68 teams that made the tournament was analyzed.

Teams that were not selected were not included in the analysis. The teams were ranked by total tweet volume and re-seeded so the teams with the highest volume of conversation on Twitter were the 1 seeds, followed by the 2, 3, etc… until it reached the 61st through 64th teams which were given the 16 seed. The 65th through 68th teams were not selected into the bracket and left out of the tournament (i.e. no play-in games).

Some highlights of the social media buzz bracket:

  • As always, controversy = conversation. Bubble teams whose presence in the tournament was debated heavily after their inclusion saw a huge rise in seeding based off volume of Twitter conversations. Iona jumped from a 14-seed play-in to a 3-seed, Cal rose from a 12-seed play-in to a 3-seed and South Florida ascended from a 12-seed play-in to a 5-seed.
  • Top-seeded teams stayed on top. Due to heavy breaking-news reporting of the Tournament’s top seeds plus large socially-active fan bases, top seeds Kentucky, Syracuse, Michigan State and North Carolina all retained their top-seed status in the bracket seeded off social media buzz.
  • VCU and Vandy were hot topics. Last year’s Cinderella team, VCU, was discussed often on Selection Sunday as it made the field again and many fans wondered if the Rams can make another run.
  • The buzz around VCU and coach Shaka Smart made it a 6-seed in the social media bracket versus a 12-seed in the actual field. Vanderbilt also had the Twitter community abuzz, fresh off a 71-64 upset of number-one ranked Kentucky in the finals of the SEC Tournament. The Commodores, a 5-seed in the official field, jumped to a 2-seed in the buzz bracket.
  • No buzz = no dance card. Presenting a 64-team field meant dropping the four teams with the least amount of social media mentions on Selection Sunday – Southern Miss, Norfolk State, South Dakota State and Vermont.

Now that the hype is over and it’s time for the teams to prove themselves on the court, who do you think will make the Final Four in New Orleans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credit: Roger Smith

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