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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Column: UC Davis: Bracket Style

People like lists.

People especially like tournaments. They show information in a concise way where it’s obvious which side is better.

Why do you think the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament is so popular? Why do you think everyone is pushing for a college football Division I championship tournament?

When a team wins a championship playoff, there is no doubt that team is the best. There is no doubt in my mind that the Duke Blue Devils were the best team in college basketball last season. They outlasted everyone else and won the title.

If (oh dear god, if) the San Francisco Giants win the World Series, there will be no question that they’re the best baseball team. (Gotta say if, not when. Baseball jinx.)

Can I say Alabama was the best college football team last year? Not with confidence.

While UC Davis isn’t the favorite to win the BCS Championship or NCAA Division I Tournament this season, the university is in the running for one “national championship” of sorts.

The Aggies are currently in the Elite Eight for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) most vegan friendly college campus tournament. UC Davis’ road to the national quarterfinals wasn’t easy. The Aggies had to top California and Oregon en route to the regional final against UCLA.

It would be awesome if UC Davis won the bracket, but there won’t be mass parties and cars getting flipped (well, maybe at the on-campus Co-ops)

The Aggies strong “performance” (the winners of each match-up are determined by online voting) got me thinking – what other non-sports tournament could UC Davis run the table in?

The obvious choice would be most bike-friendly campus in the nation. Davis might be the only city in America that cares more about its bike paths than anything else.

Nonetheless, UC Davis would clearly be the favorite. A possible Cinderella school lies just south of Davis in UC Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara boasts both a flat terrain and the beach, making bike riding both convenient and scenic.

With that in mind, I still have to pick UC Davis to win this one. The Davis Bike Loop is a dominating presence and UC Santa Barbara doesn’t have an answer for it.

While UC Davis will be a clear number one in terms of bike friendly campus, there are a couple other tourneys in which it can dominate.

One such playoff will be the loudest campus.

This isn’t just loudest in terms of fans – it’s loudest in all aspects of student life. This could include protests, parties and people.

The obvious favorites would be the eastern big sport schools like Florida, Alabama, Ohio State and Penn State. But as you travel west, you get schools like Cal, UCLA and UC Davis.

I’d expect UC Davis to fall in the western bracket as a solid yet not impressive 10 seed in a first round matchup against seven seed Boise State. If you follow college basketball, you know this ten-seven matchup is the most common place for an upset.

I’ll predict that exact outcome. Boise State has the blue turf, but the Aggies have the Aggie Pack, the largest student-run spirit organization in the nation, according to the ever-reliable Davis Wiki.

From this point on, the Aggies will be the Cinderella of the tournament. A second round match-up against rival Cal will be a huge test for our Aggies. The Golden Bears might have the loud demonstrations, but Berkeley can only get so loud before someone protests over the decibel level. I see UC Davis’ magical run continuing into the Sweet 16.

This is where the Aggies hit a snag in a matchup with three-seed Michigan. Michigan is louder and bigger than UC Davis and will use this advantage to end the Aggies’ title hopes.

UC Davis’ run in the “loudest campus” bracket might come as a surprise to some but as the sports saying goes, “the better team usually prevails.”

JASON ALPERT can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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