Offbeat

We Picked The NCAA Tournament Winner Based On Each State's Favorite Car

This is easily the craziest March Madness bracket out there.

If you aren’t familiar with American college basketball here’s a brief intro into March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA Tournament. A total of 68 teams (the last four are decided via play-in games) compete in a four-region single-elimination tournament. The four regions are: South, East, Midwest and West. The US grinds to a standstill during the tournament as people stop working to watch their colleges compete, and to keep an eye on their brackets to see if they picked correctly.

We decided to make a bracket too, but ours is based on each state's favorite car and not its college basketball teams. Popular Mechanics, with the help of IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby, created “The Unofficial State Cars of America.” Libby compared national sales and registration data to state findings to see which models were most popular by state. In terms of car against car, well that was a judgement call by your writer. Some choices were easy, like any state represented by the BMW 7 Series (Louisianan, Florida and South Carolina). Others states fell victim to Kias or crossovers. Ok, now that you know the methodology let's begin!

Kansas, represented by the Audi S6, easily made it out of the South Regional, although they had to go through the University of Miami and the BMW 7 Series. Picking Kansas for the Final Four isn’t exactly brave as the school is a No. 1 seed in real life. Out east our final came down to a No. 13 seed against a No. 14 seed. Stony Brook plays in New York which loves the Escalade but Stephen F. Austin plays in Texas where the Escalade EXT pickup is king. When it comes to tiebreakers, the EXT pickup isn’t on sale anymore. So, Stony Brook wins. In the West Regional the biggest surprise was the Subaru Impreza, represented by Connecticut’s Yale University. But the Impreza just couldn't beat Virginia's S3.

Both have all-wheel drive and the S3 costs over twice as much as the Impreza. But in the S3 looks better and is more powerful (292 horsepower). That put UVA over the top. The Midwest Regional had our biggest shocker as Middle Tennessee State and its Nissan Titan beat the University of Virginia’s Audi S3. In real life Middle Tennessee is a No. 15 seed and UVA is a No. 1. That’s a huge upset either way! But think about it: A properly optioned Titan is a beast and thanks to the rise of luxury trucks is probably as comfortable as an Audi S3. For those of you lost our final four cars are the Audi S6, Cadillac Escalade, Audi S3 and Nissan Titan.

Kansas vs. VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) came down to size. Kansas won because you’d rather have an Audi S6 over an Audi S3. That was the easiest game to call here. Stony Brook against Middle Tennessee was easy as well. Would you rather be seen driving in a Titan or Escalade? Yeah, me too. So, the final was Kansas (No. 1 in real life) against Stony Brook (No. 13 in real life). The Audi S6 looks incredible and gets plenty of grunt from its 450-horsepower V8. It's also a little cheaper than the Escalade, although both come in around $70,000. However, there's an undeniable allure to the Escalade that puts it over the top of what is in essence just a very sporty luxury sedan.

Not that there's anything wrong with sporty luxury sedans, but the Escalade is just more emotional. Riding in one is an event, a story to tell. If your Uber driver dropped you off at the bar in an S6 or an Escalade which one would you mention to your friends? Cadillac's SUV has managed to survive and thrive in a world of fuel-efficient hybrids and crossovers which speaks to its extrinsic appeal and celebrity. For that reason our biggest upset is Stony Brook over Kansas. Gearheads, your 2016 NCAA Tournament winner is the Cadillac Escalade...and by extension Stony Brook University.

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