NCAA March Madness: The Musical Version

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Tonight, the sixteen college basketball teams who’ve made it into the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship will face off to see who makes it into the next round, with a chance to win the whole thing.

What if, instead of games of basketball, the “March Madness” tournament were decided by which schools have the most dedicated music fans? Here’s what that would look like, and who would win. 

To figure this out, we analyzed anonymous, aggregated listening data from students at these schools who subscribe to the Spotify Student Deal. This lets us see not only how each school listens, but how much they’re listening.

To define the most musical schools, we looked at how many songs students at each 2017 NCAA Sweet Sixteen school listened to in the past week, as well as the number of students doing the listening, to find the average number of songs students at each school played in the past week – in other words, which ones have the strongest music fans as the the final week of this tournament approaches.

Each round would go down like this, if the 2017 NCAA basketball championships were decided by music fandom alone:

Sweet 16 – Regional Semifinals

Thursday March 23:

  • Oregon def. Michigan, with 32 more songs per student in the past week
  • Gonzaga def. West Virginia: Gonzaga (21 more)
  • Purdue def. Kansas (12 more)
  • Arizona def. Xavier (17 more)

Friday March 24:

  • North Carolina def. Butler (17 more)
  • Baylor def. South Carolina (14 more)
  • UCLA def. Kentucky (70 more songs per student last week!)
  • Wisconsin def. Florida: A real nailbiter, Wisconsin wins by just 4 points to advance.

Elite 8 – Regional Finals

March 25:

  • Gonzaga def. Arizona (12 more)
  • Oregon def. Purdue (43 more)

March 26:

  • Wisconsin def. Baylor: Wisconsin (5 more)
  • UCLA def. North Carolina (56 more)

Final 4 – National Semifinals

April 1:

  • UCLA def. Oregon (7 more)
  • Gonzaga def. Wisconsin (11 more)

National Championship Game

April 3:

The University of Los Angeles, California (UCLA) defeats Gonzaga University, with a whopping 40 more songs per student in the past week.

So there we have it. If music fandom were to decide this tournament from here on out, UCLA would be the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball champions.

One thought on “NCAA March Madness: The Musical Version

  1. This analysis is amazing. Most of these colleges are active participants of the National Music Festivals. I tend to think this musical madness would one day become a reality and we’ll have to award the noisy fans instead of the players- just a thought though, it won’t happen.


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