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Community Corner: What if the World Cup was like the NCAA Tournament?

Let’s have some fun!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four Practice Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

As everyone out there knows, the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament begins tomorrow, and millions of people will hold their tournament brackets close to their heart, cheering for their teams, the underdogs, and anyone playing their enemies. Some may go for teams that are heavily favored, like the overall 1 seed Duke Blue Devils, 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers, or maybe a 2 seed like the Kentucky Wildcats or Michigan Wolverines. Some people are rooting for a 12/5 upset or a 13/4 upset, or maybe they’re trying to find the next UMBC Retrievers in the field. Who will cut down the nets? Who will wear the slipper of Cinderella? Everyone wants to know.

Well, let’s have some fun in today’s Community Corner. As we embark on America’s greatest tournament, we ask: what if the World Cup was set up like the NCAA Tournament? Well, let’s plot this out. Here’s how we shaped it:

-64 teams (sorry, no play-in games here)
-The top 64 teams in the current FIFA World Rankings made the cut, except for one thing:
-Each confederation had to have one team in the tournament. Since there are no teams from Oceania in the top 64, the confederation’s top rated team, New Zealand, gets in the tournament, and the lowest ranked team is out. Because two teams are tied for 63rd, a coin was flipped to determine whose bubble was burst. Sorry, Honduras.
-The top 4 teams were 1 seeds, the next 4 teams 2 seeds, and so on down to our 16 seeds.

Once we had our 64 teams seeded, they were randomly paired using a bracket generator against the seed they are supposed to play. So, a random 1 seed versus a random 16, a random 8 against a random 9 seed, etc. Based on that, here is your 2019 World Cup Tournament bracket (you may have to click the two pictures to enlarge the bracket):

The United States, at 25th in the world, were slotted as a 7 seed and take on 10 seed Iceland in the first round. If they advanced, they’d likely take on 2 seed Switzerland in the Round of 32. If they faced the highest seeds on the way to a World Cup title, they’d have to beat Denmark, Croatia, Brazil, and either France or Belgium.

Okay everyone, time to go nuts! How would the USMNT really do in this bracket? Who would be your Cinderella picks or your major upsets? Who’s your sleeper pick to make the Final Four? And, who cuts down the soccer nets as World Cup champions? Hit the comments and let’s celebrate March Madness soccer style!