Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Madness - How To Pick 'Em

The first rule of picking teams for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament?  There are no rules.

Knowing the game and knowing the teams certainly can help, but it doesn't necessarily have to.  My mom has been picking the Gonzaga Bulldogs any time I have seen her fill out a bracket, so could this be the year it pays off?  Could we finally see a 16 seed beat a one seed?  Will this be the second time in history all four number one seeds make it to the Final Four?

I don't know.  You don't know.  The quarter you've been flipping and the strangers you've been asking don't know either.  But with the odds of picking a perfect bracket at 9.2 quintillion to 1, you gotta try something, right?

With those odds and with every American filling out a bracket, there is the potential to see a perfect bracket just once every 400 years.

So let's say you're staring at a blank bracket.  Let me start by saying I am no expert, nor do I claim to be, and I have never even picked a perfect round to date.  But whether you fancy yourself an expert, know nothing about the tournament or just want to try something knew, here are some directions you can go.

The first one is the easiest, and should make the most sense -- shouldThe "chalk" picks, as they're known.  Just pick whatever team has the highest seed all the way through.  You'll end up with Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga and Indiana in the Final Four.

If you love the underdogs, pretty easy one here, just pick upsets all the way through.  Good luck with that one, though. NC A&T, Western Kentucky, LIU-Brooklyn/James Madison (play-in game Wednesday night) and Southern is a rough Final Four, though, fair warning.

No one likes to root for someone they don't like, so try picking schools that a friend goes to, or that you've heard of...or just pick against teams -- like against Duke if you're a UConn fan -- if you hate their colors or their mascot or their fans.

Along those lines, say you know nothing about the teams, picking mascots is a pretty solid strategy.  Take the size or ferocity of the animal, or the historical significance of the person or group, and stack the two sides up.  Easily the most fun way to look at a bracket, and some match-ups provide more fun than the actual games (like the Michigan State Spartans versus the Valparaiso Crusaders) if you're not into it that much.

The most important strategy is just to go with your gut, no matter what.  Like the picks you're making.  It'll make the tournament more fun, and when you pick a winner that your friends don't have, gloat like crazy, because it may never happen again.  Have fun out there.

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