Why won’t the NCAA offset travel emissions for tournament teams?

March 17, 2017

What a difference a day makes! Sixteen games were played by 32 teams as of this writing at 11:50 am on Leprechaun day. Here’s how things shook out:

  • 37.5% of the teams that have played so far are from Climate Leadership schools (we’ll call them CL schools for now): Villanova, Mount St. Mary’s, Wisconsin, Florida, Gonzaga, Xavier (Wow!), Florida GC, Saint Mary’s, Arizona, Nevada, Vermont, Minnesota, and Butler.
  • That 37.5% won 67% of their games (8 of the 12 CL schools advanced to the 2nd round). How did non-CL schools fair you ask? They won only 40% of their games (8 of 20 non-CL schools advanced to the 2nd round).
  • More importantly, I think, is the number of CL’s that advanced in games played against non-CL’s: Six (6) CL schools won their games against non-CL schools, giving them a 60% win rate here. Only Nevada, Vermont, Florida Gulf Coast, and Minnesota lost. Come on, Minnesota…

In games played between closely ranked schools (Wisconsin-V.Tech & Xavier-Maryland), the CL school came out on top 100% of the time and the bracket now looks like this:

Fourteen of the 16 games played later today include teams from CL schools; the USC-SMU and Michigan-Oklahoma State games are the only two with only teams from non-CL’s. Based on yesterday’s performance and close match ups between CL’s and no-CL’s, we should expect the following results by night’s end:

  • Games where CL’s play non-CL’s; 13 games @ 60% win rate = 7 to 8 advances.
  • Overall advancement of CL schools into the 2nd round = 9 more teams from CL schools will be in the second round by midnight pacific.
  • What about the close games? Well, there’s 4 of those: Arkansas-Seton Hall, Michigan State-Miami, Marquette-South Carolina, Dayton-Wichita State. Will the perfect record of CL’s winning against non-CL’s in these close games survive the night? Let’s find out.

One of the themes we wanted to look at outside of the brackets themselves was the travel related carbon emissions this tournament will generate by April 4th. To find out, we reasonably assumed that each team includes 25 people who travel all together. Travel emissions are based on industry standard models developed from The Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University¹.  

And the first question that comes to mind is the crazy pattern of eastern based teams flying to California. What are you trying to do, NCAA? Were these games moved from North Carolina because of HB2? If they were, that’s just nuts (and another reason to fight bigotry everywhere).

We’ll update this emissions interactive as we go along. At the end, we’ll have an emissions total for the whole tournament, by school, round, conference, and whether those emissions were generated by CL schools or not. And then we’ll ask the NCAA why they aren’t running a carbon neutral tournament in 2017. At the very least, they should cover the travel-related emissions for CL teams and not expect them to bear the burden of success here.  Send us your comments at @Urban_Offsets.

¹http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/jardine09-carboninflights.pdf