By Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
The best time of year is finally here! March Madness is ready to kick-off this week, and we've got you covered here at Front Office Sports with some bracketology of our own - the NCAA Tournament, social media edition! Yesterday, we covered the East Region. Today, we cover the Midwest Region's first round matchups on digital. Let's get started!
1) Kansas vs. 16) North Carolina Central / UC Davis
The Jayhawks continued their college hoops dominance by clinching yet another number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. I really like the blue layered design of the graphic, which has a textured feel without being overwhelming. Although it makes no mention of the first round matchup, recognizing the 28 straight appearances is a nice touch.
North Carolina Central's postcard-esque graphic is vibrant, and I love how it doesn't downplay the play-in game, keeping 'Dayton' front and center. The skyline in the background is really cool to showcase the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament.
UC Davis went with the traditional team celebration video, which does well to frame the excitement of the moment.
In the end, NCCU gives Kansas a run for its money, but the Jayhawks come out on top.
Winner: Kansas over North Carolina Central
8) Miami vs. 9) Michigan State
Two big-time programs square off in the 8-9 matchup, with their graphics fighting to advance to the second round.
The Canes' digital team put together a snazzy orange design that is simple yet aesthetically pleasing, bright yet reserved at the same time. The font is different and definitely eye-catching, and I'm a huge fan of the faded dark orange haze color palette.
Michigan State is no stranger to the Big Dance, proudly celebrating the 20th consecutive appearance for the program. The graphic looks very futuristic and technological, almost like a TV transition. The Spartan green is always a true call to the brand, and the bracket in the background is a nice placement.
In the end, Miami's simpler design is easier on the eyes than the extra details of the Spartans, and the Canes narrowly sneak by.
5) Iowa State vs. 12) Nevada
Iowa State had a strong end to their season on the court, and social media has followed suit with beautiful graphic designs. This 'clinch' post isn't even the best of the bunch, but I love how it's a complete immersion into the Cyclone red and yellow. The message is loud and clear: they are not done. The visual also does well to include all pertinent information about the matchup, and the image of cutting down the net is empowering to fans of the program.
Nevada's NCAA Tournament graphic is fairly simple, but effective in serving its purpose. It has all of the necessary information, gets the point across, and has the matchup logos front and center. No one ever said it needed to be overly done. I especially like the program's rally hashtags, #BattleBorn and #TheHunt, geared around the Wolf Pack.
Winner: Iowa State
4) Purdue vs. 13) Vermont
It's been a strong season for the Boilermakers on and off the court, with their social media presence noted in an earlier Social Media Seven. They continued this great work on Selection Sunday, with a sharp-looking dark and gold image. A+ photo selection, first and foremost. I like how the matchup is highlighted, rightfully so, but it also doesn't clash with the overall message of 'Time To Shine.' Very well presented.
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UVM had an impressive season in their own regard, and I like their design as well. Not many teams went with the full image approach, and it definitely works with this selection. The information on the sides feels slightly jammed and misplaced, but overall, the graphic is clean and efficient. Nice job!
6) Creighton vs. 11) Rhode Island
I really like the content in this 6-11 matchup between the Bluejays and Rams.
Creighton's "We're In, Let's Dance" GIF is very nicely made, moving smoothly and popping on any timeline that it finds itself on. It looks like something right out of a movie, TV broadcast, or highlight video. The Bluejay logo rotating in is a classy touch as a bumper as well. However, the downside of having this pre-prepared is the lack of customization to the matchup and any important information.
On the flip side, URI's visual is one of my favorites from Selection Sunday. At first glance, it may not seem too special, but it has many of the necessary components to be a strong form of content. The design is kept simple, with the color scheme perfectly meshed with the branding and theme of the card. The logos are nicely positioned within a bracket layer, while complimenting the player image and 'Let's Dance!' text.
In a strong showdown, Rhody advances to the Round of 32.
Winner: Rhode Island
3) Oregon vs. 14) Iona
The Ducks have become one of college sports' most recognizable brands in recent years, with diligent marketing practices and constant innovation that pushes the boundaries of 'normal.' A regular on the #SMSeven, Oregon's social team was hard at work for Selection Sunday, and the visual animation clip looks beautiful. While there isn't any matchup information, the 3 seed is rightfully emphasized and integrated smoothly into player images and transitions. It's fun, creative, and so Oregon. Well done.
The Gaels put together a very nice design of their own, with the tried and true ticket graphic getting its own spin. Having the 'Create Yours' messaging in the background is powerful, conveying a quietly confident mentality to fans. I like the layout of the admission ticket and the information as well, as its the perfect balance of design and subtlety.
7) Michigan vs. 10) Oklahoma State
In another strong matchup, the Wolverines and Cowboys faced off in the always dangerous 7-10 game.
Michigan's digital media team is always one of the best, and they opted for the simple approach to Selection Sunday. The Maize and Blue are featured prominently, a hallmark of the iconic Wolverine brand. I like the simplicity of this graphic, but it leaves a little more to be desired. Nonetheless, it is a very clean looking presentation that serves its purpose.
The Cowboys have embraced the Wild West look, and their graphics certainly reflect that on social. The orange and black, mixed with that older-looking neutral base, provides a unique worn-out design that still manages to be vibrant in its own way. The information is all there, and the players and logo on the left mesh well together to make one cohesive image. Love the creative work from Oklahoma State, and they narrowly slip by Michigan.
Winner: Oklahoma State
2) Louisville vs. 15) Jacksonville State
The Cardinals decided to go with the full bracket region approach with their graphic, which works with the nature of the program's ambitions of making a deep run through the Midwest. Although it is slightly subdued, the Louisville red still finds a way to shine through and make an impression on any viewer. Nice image selection of the team running out, ready to get to work.
Jacksonville State is incredibly excited to be making an NCAA Tournament appearance, and deservedly so. After all of the hard work that the Gamecocks have put in, it's cool to see their celebration captured in real time. A conventional approach, but effective nonetheless from the JSU social team.
The Cards' design is simply too much for the video content of the Gamecocks, and Louisville advances.