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The 2011 NCAA Digital Marketing Bracket, West Region

It’s time to unveil the first of our 4 Regions in the 2011 Digital NCAA Tournament Bracket. Up first, we’ll dive into the West Region, where we’ve seen the #1 seed Stanford take hold.

First, a reminder in case you’re joining late. (Read our recap of the First Four matchups here) These seeds were calculated using a weighted average between how the teams connect on social media, the level of access they give you to their program, the level of branding and emotion they deliver, the quality and depth of content, and (naturally) the intangibles… though it’s digital so isn’t everything intangible?
And finally, keep in mind that every team in this field of 68 is inspiring — that’s how they got here, to the big digital stage. And we can take great learnings from each of them.
Let’s Roll.
1- Stanford vs. 16- Hampton/Arkansas Pine Bluff
You can tell Stanford comes from a digitally-minded part of the country. And that will make them a tough out for the winner of this First Four matchup.
Conference: Pac-10
Bid: Pac-10 Champ, Automatic
Breaking Down Stanford: The Cardinal deliver a sick visual experience around their squad, including individual player highlight reels and emotional photography. Simply put, one of the best at leveraging photography and video to build their brand.

Conference: MEAC
Bid: MEAC Champ, Automatic
Breaking Down Hampton: Strength is in their simplicity. They make it very easy to find social and, most importantly, they position Recruiting in an aspirational way by calling it “Join The Team. Get Recruited here.”

Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Conference: SWAC
Bid: SWAC Champ, Automatic
Breaking Down UAPB: Pine Bluff has a similar strength in the simplicity of their design. This easy layout puts your attention directly onto each game, which they make evident through their online calendar.

8- Virginia vs. 9- Utah
Two strong ways to make an impression… Utah gives you a King-Sized look into social media. But Virginia unveiled a stunning visual impact with their hoops recruiting site.
Conference: ACC
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down Virginia: The centerpiece of Virginia’s Digital footprint is “This is UVA Basketball”, accessible here. It’s powerful, but it’s also a little tough to find. And on the simpler side, Virginia hits us with a pretty strong blog, the Wahoo Blog, here. Much like many 8-seeds in the real tourney, Virginia has all the weapons to make a deep run, if they can get them firing on all cylinders.

Conference: MWC
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down Utah: Utah leads with enormous (Texas-sized) banners for Recruits and Social Media — giving the biggest emphasis to two critical areas. This emphasis, coupled with strong branding makes the site easy-to-use and navigate.

4- Texas A&M vs. 13- Louisville
Is the difference between these two programs’ digital footprints the focus on giving you access to the latest? It’s interesting what this addition has on the Aggies… and what it could do for Louisville.
Texas A&M
Conference: Big 12
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down Texas A&M: The Aggies put their emphasis onto The Mark Turgeon Virtual Guide (which you can find here). It’s pretty sweet — giving you a family atmosphere feel mixed with deep emphasis on player development. And there’s a dynamic ticker across the top that makes you feel like this guide is alive.

Conference: Big East
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down Louisville: Louisville created a NCAA Tourney Blog last season (linked here) that gives a pictorial look into the emotion of the tourney. The result is pretty powerful — and one I wish we could see more of, not just in the postseason!
5- Maryland vs. 12- South Carolina
Two different approaches. Is this your 5-12 upset to pick? Maryland goes the immersive route, with a sensory overload of wealth. Meanwhile South Carolina goes the simpler route, turning that focus into innovations such as their iTunes presence. Hmmm…..
Conference: ACC
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down Maryland: The Terrapins give us highlight reels, easy access to Twitter, and an inside look at the gear they wear inside their recruiting site, Terrapins Forever (here). Very immersive, very powerful framework to build upon.

South Carolina
Conference: SEC
Bid: At-Large
Breaking Down South Carolina: South Carolina gives us a couple of unique ways to follow the program socially — on iTunes (pretty cool, here) and via the Spurs Up Athletics blog, here. Now they just need the emotional, inspirational framework to plug these into!

3- Penn State vs. 14- Davidson
Penn State’s presence for Hoops digitally will startle you, it really sets the table. Meanwhile, when the game is on, there aren’t many programs who connect you better than Davidson…
Penn State
Conference: Big Ten
Bid: At-Large

Breaking Down Penn State: Penn State delivers a combination of emotional photography and cinematic experience that isn’t found in many other places. As you can tell from the image below, this combination makes the program feel bigger than it is. What you can’t see from that image is the player highlight reels that power their roster. Definitely a statement-maker.

Conference: Southern
Bid: Automatic, Southern
Conference Champion

Breaking Down Davidson: Where are you watching the game? Davidson earns big respect for their Wildcats Roar blog (great name, link here) that lets you follow the games live via audio, video, and Cover It Live blogging. In addition, Davidson athletics & academics partner together to deliver a view of campus, here.

6-Dayton vs 11- West Virginia
Another amazing matchup. Dayton does more with a blog than many people can imagine. And WVU is one of the most tech-savvy campuses in the NCAAs.

Conference: Atlantic 10

Bid: Automatic, A-10 Conference Champion

Breaking Down Dayton: Dayton does an amazing job of taking the concept of a blog and transforming it into an experience, literally. As you’ll see in their Experience Flight Blog (click on the link on the bottom of this page), they position game days at Dayton as a pro-like atmosphere that we just want more of!

West Virginia

Conference: Big East

Bid: At-Large

Breaking Down West Virginia: West Virginia, both as an academics institution and as an athletics showcase, comes across as a very tech-savvy innovative place. Check out their platform on iTunes, here, and you’ll get a feel for what the University offers its student population. Now that’s depth that resonates well with young athletes!

7-North Texas vs 10-Providence
The Mean Green. Wow, they deliver an almost artistic expression on the team. And Providence thinks different, in a good way — even delivering access to their coach via LinkedIn.
North Texas

Conference: Sun Belt

Bid: Automatic, Sun Belt Champion

Breaking Down North Texas: Talk about a surprise. The Mean Green occasionally hit the big dance as a huge underdog (like last season)… but they show up like they mean it in the Digital NCAA Bracket. Pretty amazing job of positioning themselves as a perennial powerhouse, and the site leverages some of the best photography you’ll find in NCAA Sports.


Conference: Big East

Bid: At-Large

Breaking Down Providence: When you get to Coach Keno Davis’ site, here, you’ll find a coach who blogs, tweets, facebooks (is that a verb?) and is even up on LinkedIn. The Friars site itself could apply some of this access and transform their site into an experience.

2-Florida vs 15-Wisconsin Milwaukee
Tough matchup for UWM, who surprised me by winning the Horizon’s auto bid with access to their squad. Florida gives access and sizzle in a pretty powerful 1-2 combo.

Conference: SEC

Bid: At-Large

Breaking Down Florida: When you hit Coach Donovan’s site, here, you feel the prestige and currency of this program. You see them at the White House after national titles. You see an NBA Pipeline of talent, and Coach Donovan’s style of play. And all of this adds up to a family feel? Powerful stuff.


Conference: Horizon

Bid: Automatic, Horizon League Champions

Breaking Down UWM: UWM leads with a great blog and YouTube channel that work together to give you solid access to the program. When you hit their unofficial recruiting site (or fan site) PantherU, here, you feel like the stage UWM plays on is much larger as they go in depth on media coverage and recruiting.

That’s a stacked region. But is it the toughest? Which favorite would have the toughest matchup? Those questions in due time… But first, come back tomorrow as we dive into the second of our 4 regions…
As always, you can follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (I’m @pawlow34)