A Sustainable School will win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

March 14, 2017

Choosing a green bracket is easier than ever this year.

Today is the last day to lock in your picks for this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. While most of us will pick our winners emotionally (Duke-UNC final!), by conference, or by alma mater; there’s usually very good reasons to balance your picks against FiveThirtyEight’s predictions. But not this year.

FiveThirtyEight tells us this tournament will be different than recent ones because there’s really not that much separating the elite teams at the top of the field. Alas, their data and analysis of said data won’t “be able to help you all that much, at least in the Elite Eight and beyond.” Plus, there’s a hard path forward for most top seeded teams packed in with some very good underseeds (I’m looking at you, SMU!).

So, in the absence of a quantitatively clear path to bracket victory, I bring you this series lobbying for a new factor in winning your bracket: Choose schools who demonstrate Climate Leadership.

Tournament Schools with a Second Nature Climate Commitment

Thirty one of the 68 schools in this tournament are committed to running carbon neutral campuses. They are highlighted in green above. These schools are part of Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network; Their President or Chancellor committed to reduce campus energy use, switch to cleaner energy sources, offset travel-related emissions (think study abroad or basketball teams travelling across the country for a tournament) and reach zero net emissions this century. A daunting task for most companies, yet more than 600 Universities, Colleges, and Vocational Schools across the US made the commitment over the last decade. You can see them yourself, along with each school’s progress towards neutrality, at www.secondnature.org.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at a few of the stand out reasons you should have filled your brackets with Climate Leadership schools. My final four is all green (Duke, Gonzaga, Louisville, and UNC). Here’s a taste; Climate Leadership schools in this year’s March Madness are overwhelmingly predicted to win the tournament (63.03%) and comprise 8 of the top 10 seeds including the top spot (Villanova, UNC, Gonzaga, Louisville, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon).

We will also delve into the tournament’s carbon footprint and flight-related emissions and attempt to analyse those emissions by school, tournament round, conference, and whether those emissions were generated by Climate Leadership schools or not.

Here’s a link to the modified version of FiveThirtyEight’s data with green rows highlighting the Climate Leader schools.