March Madness (solution)
by Kai Huang with software by C. Scott Ananian, Greg Clark, and Alex Power
Part 1: Second Round to Final Four
This part of the puzzle involves team nicknames. The reason we expect you to eventually look at team nicknames is that, besides the given school names, team nicknames are the only other common way to refer to NCAA basketball teams. In fact, they are often used together, e.g. “Arizona Wildcats”. (Note: Team nicknames are sometimes different from mascot names. Mascot names are not commonly used to refer to NCAA basketball teams, and are not used in this puzzle.)
Once you write out the team nicknames, you may notice that each regional’s nicknames clue a set. Furthermore, these sets can all be ordered (sometimes there are multiple possible orderings). The ordering is used to determine the winner of each game in the regional. The 5 given game results for each regional confirm which ordering of the set is being used, and which end of the ordering is the “winning” end.
Note that these are not “total” orderings, meaning that if an arbitrary two teams from a regional were to play a game, we would not always be able to determine the game’s winner. However, if you fill out the given bracket, you’ll find that all games that actually occur have determinable winners.
The most obvious regional is probably the top-right regional, where each nickname clues a color. The colors are ordered by their multiplier value in the electronic color code, e.g. for resistors. The higher value wins. Here are the team nicknames in sorted order (regional champion at the top).
|Middle Tennessee||Blue Raiders||blue||6|
|North Texas||Mean Green||green||5|
|Georgia Tech||Yellow Jackets||yellow||4|
In the bottom-left regional, each nickname clues a group of people or an animal in history. The groups are ordered by their time period in history. The earlier period wins. Here are the team nicknames in sorted order (regional champion at the top).
|School||Team nickname||Time period|
|IPFW||Mastodons||34 million to 11000 B.C.E.|
|San Jose State||Spartans||650-371 B.C.E.|
|San Dieogo State||Aztecs||1300-1600|
|Long Beach State||49ers||1849 or 1949|
|Notre Dame||Fighting Irish||1861-1865|
|Oklahoma||Sooners||March 2, 1889|
In the top-left regional, each nickname clues an animal from the Chinese zodiac. The animals are ordered by their canonical order from traditional tales. The earlier animal wins. Here are the team nicknames in sorted order (regional champion at the top).
|School||Team nickname||Chinese zodiac animal|
|South Dakota State||Jackrabbits||Rabbit/hare|
|Delaware||Fightin' Blue Hens||Rooster/chicken|
In the bottom-right regional, each nickname clues an NBA team. The NBA teams are ordered alphabetically by the name of the city/region the team is in. The earlier letter wins. Here are the team nicknames in sorted order (regional champion at the top).
|School||Team nickname||NBA team|
|Saint Joseph's||Hawks||Atlanta Hawks|
|Montana State||Bobcats||Charlotte Bobcats|
|South Florida||Bulls||Chicago Bulls|
|UT Arlington||Mavericks||Dallas Mavericks|
|Oakland||Golden Grizzlies||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Ohio State||Buckeyes||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Arkansas State||Red Wolves||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Stony Brook||Seawolves||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Alabama State||Hornets||New Orleans Hornets|
|Sacramento State||Hornets||New Orleans Hornets|
|Marshall||Thundering Herd||Olahoma City Thunder|
|Southern Utah||Thunderbirds||Olahoma City Thunder|
Below is the correct completed bracket. We use team nicknames instead of school names in this solution bracket because that’s what’s really going on. (Click for a larger version.)
Once you submit a correct completed bracket, you’re given part 2 of the puzzle.
Part 2: Final Four to Champion
This part of the puzzle is a mini logic puzzle. You should deduce the scores of all three Final Four games using the given divinations. The scores are:
- Longhorns defeat Mastodons 76-65
- Greyhounds defeat Hawks 69-68
- Greyhounds defeat Longhorns 82-69