It’s basketball time, but if you’re having trouble making a bracket (or just don’t care about college basketball), how about using artists to guide you through this year’s tournament? Check out all our coverage here.

For the big basketball games coming up, we focused on music instead of the game itself. We assigned an artist with something in common with each school (if they’re from there, or went there, or something) and then listened through all of them. Will we pick the real winner this way? Probably not. But will we discover new artists along the way? YUP!

Let’s dive into the West Division and see what happens. There are definitely some insane matchups, but in reality, they’re all winners in our book.

Check out the East, Midwest, and South Divisions too!

Round of 64

Walk the Moon (Xavier, 1) vs. Hiss Golden Messenger (NC Central, 16) / Buxton (Texas Southern, 16)

Walk the Moon kicked it all off with their big hit “Shut Up and Dance” and the two other bands didn’t know what hit them. Buxton’s half indie folk and half rock and Hiss Golden Messenger’s full-on folk couldn’t beat out the electro-pop rockers in the first showing in the West Division. 

Winner: Walk the Moon

The Hooten Hallers (Missouri, 8) vs. Iron & Wine (Florida State, 9)

With their hard-hitting old-school blues rock, The Hooten Hallers put up an incredible fight, but Sam Beam can do no wrong and the crowd agreed. The Missouri boys will definitely be on our next playlist, but Iron & Wine wins this round. 

Winner: Iron & Wine

Crankdat (Ohio State, 5) vs. The Kickback (South Dakota State, 12)

Originally from South Dakota, The Kickback has some of the catchiest indie rock out today, but Crankdat brought rock on steroids to this battle. The song “Game Over” sounds like a hyperactive rock band, mixed with metal, and produced by an electronic artist. While they’re both phenomenal, the energy from Crankdat took the W.

Winner: Crankdat

The Classic Crime (Gonzaga, 4) vs. To Speak of Wolves (UNC Greensboro, 13)

To Speak Wolves definitely brought their A game, but the sounds from The Classic Crime brought a pop-punk vibe with a grown up with a singer-songwriter feel. Great lyrics, sweet vocals, and just enough punk to get everyone moving past the Greensboro group.

Winner: The Classic Crime

The Suffers (Houston, 6) vs. Le Chateau (San Diego State, 11)

Sometimes some heartfelt soul is good for everyone, and Le Chateau felt it. With a touch of rock, R&B, and Motown vibes, The Suffers transported everyone listening to the past and then into the future. Le Chateau was incredible, and with an eclectic mix of electronic, indie rock, and pop, they’re going places. But for this one, The Suffers ruled the roost. 

Winner: The Suffers

Protomartyr (Michigan, 3) vs. Little Jane and the Pistol Whips (Montana, 14)

There’s something uneasy and droning about every song you hear by Protomartyr, but at the same time, it’s somehow chipper. Little Jane and the Pistol Whips sweet tunes came in strong, but the melodic spoken word vocals of Protomartyr’s lead singer grabbed on and never let go.

Winner: Protomartyr

Jason Castro (Texas A&M, 7) vs. Math The Band (Providence, 10)

While former American Idol contestant Jason Castro is no stranger to competition, the punk rock band with added video game sounds was too much for him to compete. You don’t even know what you’re getting into when you put this on, but you won’t be able to stop listening.

Winner: Math The Band

Some Army (North Carolina, 2) vs. Arlie (Lipscomb, 15)

Super fun, lo-fi, surf-y turf-y bedroom rock took it from Some Army in this heated match. When you put Arlie you can’t help but nod your head and wish you knew the words to sing along. The Vampire Weekend vibe was just too much for the Army to take on.

Winner: Arlie

Round of 32

Walk the Moon (Xavier, 1) vs. Iron & Wine (Florida State, 9)

Walk the Moon put up an incredible fight here, but then “Flightless Bird” hits the ears, and there’s not much that can stand up to the old classic.

Winner: Iron & Wine

Crankdat (Ohio State, 5) vs. The Classic Crime (Gonzaga, 4)

With that… classic… punk rock backbone, The Classic Crime took the game against Crankdat. The songwriting stood out on songs like “The Coldest Heart” and “Holy Water.”

Winner: The Classic Crime

The Suffers (Houston, 6) vs. Protomartyr (Michigan, 3)

There’s just something about that voice that pushed Protomartyr past The Suffers. The Detroit quartet took the win on this one, but it was close. A last second drum solo put Protomartyr over the top.

Winner: Protomartyr

Math The Band (Providence, 10) vs. Arlie (Lipscomb, 15)

The originality in Math The Band was too much for Arlie to take in this round. You could say that Math The Band beat the high score in this insanely close battle.

Winner: Math The Band

Round of 16

Iron & Wine (Florida State, 9) vs. The Classic Crime (Gonzaga, 4)

In the most epic battle yet, these two went back and forth. The groups both started in the early 2000s, but after multiple listens, The Classic Crime somehow edged ahead of fan favorite Iron & Wine.

Winner: The Classic Crime

Protomartyr (Michigan, 3) vs. Math The Band (Providence, 10)

The old school video game sounds throughout these songs gave them the edge against Protomartyr’s uneasiness. Grabbing the votes with fans of Castlevania.

Winner: Math The Band

Round of 8

The Classic Crime (Gonzaga, 4) vs. Math The Band (Providence, 10)

The Seattle-based quartet did what no one could believe. They made it through the division. The energy from Providence’s Math The Band started strong, but the hard-hitting writing took the game from the group and handed the game to The Classic Crime.

Winner: The Classic Crime

The Classic Crime now advances to the last four! Check back for other divisions and the final matchups.

Don’t agree with my picks? Let me know who you’ve got on Twitter!

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