My 2018 March Madness Periodic Table Bracket

There are almost as many methods of picking your March Madness tournament bracket as there are people who pick them.  That said, there are some common methods used by those who don’t know much about college basketball.  Many are random…like the ‘coin flip method’, the ‘better mascot method’, the ‘school colors method’, the ‘pets method’ (choosing the school your pet responds more to when you call out two schools), the ‘mandatory upset method’ and the ever-present ‘I HHAATTEE “insert hated school name here” method’ (you choose them to win, but cheer against them anyway).

However, I noticed a glaring omission in the ‘random bracket selections’ featured above.

The Periodic Table Bracket.  Yes, this is a real thing.

Actually, it isn’t, I just made it up.  But I based many of my predictions using chemical elements, their symbols, their coolness factor (yes, coolness in chemistry/periodic tables IS cool!!!), and whether I personally like or at one point played with that particular element.  This was especially helpful for the 8/9 and 7/10 matchups.

You can view my entire bracket here.

Briefly, my background.  Organometallic chemist in grad school (Wyoming), Los Alamos National Lab postdoc (uranium/plutonium compounds), D-I school research (Memphis) and my own research efforts elsewhere (phosphorus/fluorine ligands with transition metal complexes).  So my research efforts have taken me all over the periodic table.

Warning!!  You will be simultaneously exposed to mockable picks and some chemistry (perhaps even learning some chemistry…most people shy away from that…hence the caveat).

Round o’ 64—left side of the bracket

Creighton/KState—Creighton (Chromium, Cr; and anything is better than something from Kansas)

Nevada/Texas—Nevada (Neon, Ne; Vegas…neon signs…Nevada…no-brainer)

Missouri/Florida St.—(Mizzou, Mo, molybdenum—I’ve made more new chemical compounds with molly than with any other metal—this was an easy call).

Houston/S. Diego St.—Houston, H, hydrogen. S is sulfur, but hydrogen burns—go with flames)

Michigan/Montana (Michigan—can’t use molly twice.  Other elements, yes…not Molly).

Texas A&M/Providence—Providence—for either phosphorus, P, or praseodymium Pr; the first is an awesome element, the second has a fabulous name that most people don’t care to pronounce.

N.Carolina/Lipscomb (despite the fact that lithium, Li, makes you happy, picking Lipscomb would make me sad).

And now the right side

Virginia Tech/Alabama—VT.  This was tough…vanadium, V or aluminum, Al?  Vanadium compounds are used in diabetes treatments, but many aluminum cans contain beer.  I went with beer…er…the aluminum can—which will get crushed in the next round anyway.

Florida/St.Bonnie—Florida (F, fluorine.  One of my top three favorite elements)

Arkansas/Butler—Arkansas (argon vs boron…Ar v B; this matchup is boring even with chemical elements, but argon is the third most common gas in the atmosphere behind nitrogen 79% and oxygen 20.9ish%)

Seton Hall/NCState—Seton Hall (Selenium, Se; it’s a cool element with a cool name)

Clemson/NMState—Clemson (chlorine, Cl; half of your common table salt).

Auburn/Charleston—Auburn (Au, gold; an easy call)

TCU/Syracuse—TCU (Tc, technetium—very cool element, lightest element whose isotopes are all highly radioactive—we have to make the element to play with it…it’s super cool).  Since it spontaneously decomposes naturally, Tc will implode in the next round anyway.

Rhode Island/Oklahoma—Rhode Island (Rhodium, Rh.  Most expensive element by mole, makes beautifully colored complexes).

Later rounds when I used this theory

UVA/Creighton—vanadium is still pretty cool

UK/AZ—Argon, Ar vs potassium, K.  Argon (element number 18) is heavier than potassium (element 19)—39.95 vs. 39.10.  An anomaly on the Periodic Table.  Argon wins.

Tennessee over Miami…Tellurium, Te, is another cool element…even its name sounds cool.

Cincinnati—carbon, C—only element that has a branch of chemistry devoted to it (Organic).  It gets them to Virginia, but vanadium wins.

My Final Four Pics

Xavier—things that start with X are cool.  That carries the day to the Final Four.

Virginia–takes the vanadium baton from Va Tech and runs with it all the way to the final four.

Purdue (plutonium, Pu—an awesome element to play around with).  I love the actinide elements, so that carries Purdue past Argon (Arkansas), fluorine (Florida) and vanadium (Villanova).

Auburn (Gold, Au.  Who doesn’t like gold?  That alone carries them past chlorine (Clemson), potassium (Kansas) and rhodium (though THAT will be a good game).

So my final four contains gold, plutonium, vanadium and an X factor.

And the Winner is…

In the end, plutonium and vanadium meet in the finals.  Vanadium conquers the other elements.  Let’s hope vanadium compounds are equally effective in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

-The chem geek.


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