Most Fit Universities: 2013 NCAA Bracket Edition

It’s mid-March, and the NCAA Basketball Championship has begun. Filling out multiple brackets (just to see them all crash to the ground) gets me in the bracket mood for just about anything. So, in lieu of our normal Friday Five, we’re going to give you something different. Men’s Fitness recently ran a ranking of the 25 Fittest Colleges in America (SPOILER ALERT: SHOWS RANKINGS), researched and written by their staff. Using their rankings, we filled out a 2013 NCAA bracket. Information was not available for all 68 schools involved, so we started at the Elite Eight level.

First of all, it’s worth noting that a few teams got very bad draws in this tournament. Syracuse ranked #6 in the country according to Men’s Fitness, but had to face powerhouse Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen.

Minnesota was more unlucky, drawing UCLA in the Round of 64. Minnesota’s ranking of #8 would normally get them far, but not against UCLA.

Making it to the Elite Eight are the following schools (seeds and regions are according to the 2013 NCAA Basketball Championship):

Midwest Region:

(5) Oklahoma State vs. (3) Michigan State

Oklahoma State’s men’s cross country team won the national championship in 2012, so they definitely have that going for them. However, Michigan State’s four gyms, expansive list of club sports, and close access to great outdoor activities puts the Spartans in the Final Four.

Winner: Michigan State

West Region:

(5) Wisconsin vs. (2) Ohio State

A classic Big Ten clash. Ohio State has just about everything imaginable for fitness options, from CrossFit and kickboxing to video games and ping pong. Plus, a guy named Jesse Owens called Columbus home before his record-setting Olympics in Berlin, and now has numerous fitness buildings named after him on campus. Wisconsin has Lake Michigan to the east and fantastic parks/wilderness up north, but fails to match the plentiful fitness options offered in Columbus.

Winner: Ohio State

South Region:

(8) North Carolina vs. (6) UCLA

Usually, a matchup between these two basketball teams would be for a trip to the Final Four, or even the National Championship. UNC boasts cycling routes, indoor climbing, and even a club marathon team to go along with its fitness centers and other outdoor resources. UCLA’s location gives ample access to both hiking and watersports, and the FitWell program at the university gives students and faculty the resources needed to stay in shape. UCLA also features a Student Nutrition & Body Image awareness campaign to teach students the right way to stay fit.

Winner: UCLA

East Region:

(1) Indiana vs. (7) Illinois

Another Big Ten matchup. Indiana definitely has one of the best basketball teams in the country, but their fitness programs are also among the best nationwide. Bloomington hosts the nation’s largest collegiate bike race–the Little 500–every year. Other fitness programs aid both students and professors in getting in shape and staying healthy. At Illinois, students can head to the ARC, where they recently welcomed visitor #5 million since the building opened in 2008. If the gym isn’t your thing, join a healthy cooking program and learn the ins and outs of nutrition. Men’s Fitness liked both schools, but gave the edge to Indiana.

Winner: Indiana

Final Four:

(3) Michigan State vs. (2) Ohio State

Both schools feature plenty of easily-accessible ways to get involved in the fitness community. Facilities and outdoor resources are within reach of both campuses, and offer numerous club sports and wellness programs. In a battle of two of the top three Fittest Universities in the country, Ohio State prevails.

(6) UCLA vs. (1) Indiana

Both schools have multiple health and fitness programs and activities that go the extra mile towards getting both students and faculty involved. Indiana features the NetNutrition plan for students and the annual Midwest Fit Fest. UCLA matches with the programs listed above. However, UCLA wins in the end.

National Championship:

(6) UCLA vs. (2) Ohio State

Another matchup between two traditional basketball powerhouses. This time, it comes down to fitness. Resources are plentiful around Los Angeles, and include mountains to the north, ocean to the west, and plenty of sunshine. Yet according to Men’s Fitness, Ohio State’s near-perfect score of 99.6/101 on the Fitness Index gives the edge to the Buckeyes.

Winner: Ohio State

How did Ohio State pull it off? Men’s Fitness explains their indexes and reasonings in the article above.

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