If the NCAA tournament were based on COVID19 transparency, who would win Monday night?
Why Don’t We Know reporter Noah Ram dove into the data after the final four games were played and came up with a clear winner.
Here’s what he wrote:
In less than two weeks, a field of 68 teams narrows to four, for the Final Four – one of the greatest spectacles in sport, where four fanbases take over a host city, and games are played in front of large crowds at colossal football stadiums.
But this season, like everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the tournament drastically, with all teams convening in Indianapolis for games across the Hoosier state.
We decided to do something different at Why Don’t We Know in the spirit of the pandemic. Instead of determining a champion on the court, we are deciding one by their COVID19 policies and secrecy. Let us start with the No. 1 overall seed – the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Gonzaga, located in Spokane, Washington, had an easy-to-use dashboard. It lists the total number of cases, current number of cases, cumulative tests, positives from test, overall positivity rate and up-to-date rate.
Furthermore, it shows the number of cases each week, and how many are courtesy of on-campus students, off-campus students and employees. It then provides a weekly breakdown of the number of tests and the positives that resulted from them. But the feature that impressed me most remained a tracker that showed up-to-the-minute capacity of isolation beds, on-campus quarantine beds and off-campus quarantine beds.
At the bottom of the page, Gonzaga adds return to campus resources and information on testing and vaccinations. This makes it a one-stop-shop for all Zags students.
Down the Pacific coast, No. 11 seed UCLA is the surprise of the tournament. But just like on the hardwood, UCLA’s COVID dashboard is not in the same league as Gonzaga. That being said, it’s still simple and provides a lot of information on confirmed cases, from on-campus to staff cases. One segment where the Bruins have a leg up on the Bulldogs is the dashboard shows data and case numbers going back to March 2020, while GU’s only travels back to October. In addition, UCLA gives more campus, local, state and national materials than Gonzaga.
The other Final Four battle matches up two teams from the Lone Star state. No. 1 seed Baylor has a dashboard like Gonzaga and UCLA, but not to their level. It shows the basic details, such as active cases, testing results and new cases, but the dashboard is not laid out well, and lacks details the west coast schools have. It also in need of the resources on its website, providing links to only a handful of assets.
Less than 200 miles away is Baylor’s opponent, Houston. The 2nd-seeded Cougars struggled perhaps the most with revealing COVID data. While the website looks nice, it is deprived of basic details such as a dashboard. It lists the positives cases, but that is about it. UH clearly provides the least amount of data than any other school. This is puzzling considering the university is in one of the most COVID-affected cities in the country.
After looking at each school, it is clear Gonzaga and UCLA lead the way. It ultimately is not surprising given that the states the schools are in – Washington and California – have been more cautious with COVID than Texas. The issue is those schools face each other in the semifinal, making the final Gonzaga vs. Baylor.