How to Make a Men’s NCAA Basketball Bracket, if You Are a Tobacco Road Urbanist

Sports build community. From pride-of-their-suburb Little League teams, to pulse-of-their-city World Series pendant holders to that proud handful of farmhouses who raised that NASCAR driver, sports makes a community.

I grew up in a pre-Carolina Panthers, original Charlotte Hornets, retiring Richard Petty, saying hello to Stormy, but never to a Major League Baseball team of it’s own, Greensboro, NC (also known as Tournament Town).

There were these two mystery Coke (and yes, they were actually Coca-Cola) cans in the hall closet next to my bedroom door. One of them looked normal enough, it was bright red and had white lettering. It did have a wolf-head, and the words National Champions 1983 on them. Clearly, that wasn’t so normal. The other one was bright blue and nobody’s soda came in a bright blue can. The ram’s head and the 1982 national championship it honored wasn’t that weird.

I tried being a NASCAR fan for five seconds. No lasting interest in watching cars go around a track. Baseball’s just so much better in person, plus, our beloved Grasshoppers are really the benchwarmers for the Miami Marlins. Too many degrees of separation.

The Charlotte professional men’s basketball team should have never stopped being the Hornets. Major League Soccer shouldn’t give up on us. Having your football team see the inside of a Super Bowl isn’t too shabby though and hockey’s decent. However, I much rather be at the PNC Arena when the normal HVAC system is operating and I can yell out Wolf and be met with a resounding Pack.

And when your arch rivals are only a few miles away, but still get major airplay on ESPN, this is how you choose your favorite sport. I’m a proud alumna of N.C. State University. That is how I chose my team.

And so bracket time is like my Super Bowl. In the weeks leading up to the Big Dance, I’m dancing around my TV at home, watching all the conference tournaments. I’m paying more attention to games when I’m out at networking socials at bars. I’m wearing red, lots of red. And I’m more than ready to make more than one bracket and explain to you why I did.

However this year, bracket building is too simplistic. After all, it’s about predicting the winners right? Under that logic your bracket should just read KENTUCKY and nothing else. My alma matter is in this year (and in in a decent space) and that version of my bracket reads NC STATE in all caps.

So I decided to put my urbanist hat on and be creative for my third and most serious bracket. Introducing the 2015 Kristen Jeffers- The Black Urbanist NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket:

Click here to get the whole thing, in a legible size.

Things you need to remember about this bracket:

  • Transit and connectivity win over-all
  • North Carolina cities/towns are the next winners, because I’m going to rep my home state
  • N.C State will win its division, because it’s my own school and I love Raleigh
  • I counted suburban schools as part of their major metro area (Villanova, Maryland, etc.)
  • The First Four get no real stake in this bracket
  • Wisconsin is actually good, and could win. Madison is also good, but not as connected as a region

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing your picks. Also, please take some time and watch the ladies basketball tournament. No picks on that side. I just like watching them play.

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About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.