How to March Madness

Having the best NCAA Tournament Bracket isn’t about statistical analysis, pro/con lists, and color coded diagrams. I should know, I used to base my picks using my head instead of my gut. Predicting a winner also involves a great deal of luck. This 64-question fill-in the blank test is so unpredictable that businessman Warren Buffett announced a little incentive this year. Buffett will give any Berkshire Hathaway employee $1 million a year FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE, simply for predicting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Sweet 16. That being said, if you are not an employee of that company, you get…nothing.

Realistically, Buffet likely will not be forced to make good on his incentive any time soon. Let’s think back to last years March Madness. Last year, the 22% of participants that thought Michigan State would win were bamboozled. Based on the teams previous success in the regular season, outstanding talent, and an unbelievable coaching staff, it was an easy and safe choice, and that’s coming from an Illini fan who talked smack about the Spartans during most of the season. So it came as a shock, when Michigan St. was busted, along with thousands of brackets.

Regardless of my own poor decisions last year, I’m looking at 2017 as clean slate. This is a new year, new bracket, and some different teams. With cutting edge technology and the DRAMATIC Bachelor Season Finale last night, I and many other Americans don’t have time to sift through an entire season worth of numbers. And I have too much pride to cheat off Michael Jordan or Obama’s brackets, regardless of their previous success.

Take a leap of faith this year. Follow these guidelines for idiots on how to pick upsets, roll the dice and ultimately get a little weird. What could possibly go wrong, you pick a No.1 seed that looses in the Semis and be humiliated? Life could be worse.

1.Forget the No.16, 15 and while you’re at it 14 and 13 seeds:
A No.16 seed has never won a single game in the NCAA Tournament, and I doubt NC Central/UC Davis, Texas Southern, South Dakota State, or Mount St. Mary’s/New Orleans would be the teams to do it. But, as flubber and Space Jam taught us, the impossible is definitely possible. As you make your way down the bracket, No.15 seeds are worth an extra glance. There have been a few remarkable triumphs–none quite as significant than last year’s upset between Middle Tennessee and Michigan State. If you believe in miracles, write it in, but you might soon regret it.

At this point, I have no idea how No. 13 Bucknell did this season who even who they are, just chalk the top eight seeds into the second round and call it a day. Maybe No.14 Iona will beat No.3 Oregon in a nail bitter, probably not.

2. Roll the Dice:
When I say dice, I mean literally pull out Yahtzee from the broom closet and physically roll the dice. It’s a little out of your comfort zone, have fun with this. When breaking down teams that aren’t complete dumpster fires like a No.12 seed, it might be time do a quick Google search. 12 seeds have had success against a No.5 seed in 18 of the past 21 tournaments, and in recent years, this is where most of the Cinderella stories occurred. The ones to watch in this category will be No.5 Iowa St. v. No.12 Nevada and No. 5 Minnesota v. No.12 Middle Tennessee. While I think Minnesota will come out with an easy first round win against Middle Tn., its fun to think Middle Tennessee can upset two powerhouse offenses in back-to-back NCAA appearances.

In terms of the Iowa State matchup, I believe they will overlook Nevada. The Wolfpack, from the Mountain West Conference, has a powerhouse offense, averaging 80 plus percent from the line and 6 foot 7 guard Jordan Caroline. If given the opportunity, Caroline will sink any shot, from anywhere on the court.

3. No.1 Seeds are there for a reason:
Villanova, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Kansas were all given a No.1 seed for a season, they are damn good basketball teams. And the difference between a No.1 and No.2 seed is very thin. Its pivotal in your selection process that you don’t look for an upset here. Do not under estimate the potential of these teams, the fan base that follows them, and the numerous resources a top team has over a school like Troy.

Here’s a warning when picking a Big Ten or Pac-12 school to win it all. After doing my homework, I was shocked that neither conference has produced a national champion over the last 16 seasons. The last Big Ten winner was Michigan State in 2000, and Arizona for the Pac-10 in 1997. I’m from Chicago so I am naturally superstitious, like anyone would be. Before I go ahead and pick No.2 seed Arizona to hoist the trophy at the end of this, I’m gonna take some other factors into consideration. For one, can they beat Gonzaga, will Allonzo Trier get the flu, or will Kansas choke… again. All are valid things to consider.

4.Mascot Fight Club:
If you are going to use this system, make sure you are picking the most superior mascot of the bunch. For example, the Jayhawk vs. Boilermakers could go either way depending on your level of imagination. This strategy also brings another element of fun into the mascot commercials…mind blown.

5. Colors:
While many won’t want to admit it, sports can be just as much as a fashion show as it is a game. With throwbacks becoming all the rage, (sorry, Chris Sale).

To help those who are planning to pick a bracket solely on team colors, you can’t go wrong with Blue, Write, or Green. After all teams like Duke, Villanova, Creighton, Arizona, Kansa, North Carolina, Michigan State, Kentucky, UCLA, Oregon, Baylor, and Michigan all sport one if not more of those colors.

I would avoid yellow and brown. There is just something about these colors that doesn’t make me believe they are winners.

6. Don’t pick your alma mater: Just don’t do it, ok.
Unless you went to a No.1 seed school for higher education, even then, do not pick you alma mater under any circumstances. I am a alumna of Colorado State University, a school not necessarily known for their men’s basketball team unless you base success on losses, then they are amazing!

This year, the team did have a pretty unique season. The head coach was accused of being emotionally abusive during the 2013-14 season and the star player was arrested twice. Despite set backs, the team went on to have one of the best seasons in school history, go figure. Last week, the Rams lost to the now No.12 seeded Nevada during the Mountain West Conference Finals. While it’s great cheering for an underdog and I did pick CSU winning a first round game in their last NCAA appearance, I wasn’t entirely sure they would be able to do it.

What I am saying is this, if your alma mater is competing in the NCAA Tournament, there is a good chance you aren’t thinking straight and have more faith in miracles than you do in a No. 4 seed whooping some bottom in the first round.

7.Flip a Coin
At some point throughout the bracket making process, keep a coin close because those 8-9 games are a literal tossup. Based on the numbers, the No.8 seeds have a slight advantage, winning 53.4 percent of the time in the first round against the No.9 seed according to Bleacher Report. This reason alone gives you and everyone else better odds of winning money on a scratch off-ticket than predicting the perfect bracket.There is no shame in flipping a coin, but there is in guessing. There is a difference.

8. This is only time to justify being crazy: Embrace it
We all know Jake from the office isn’t going to be on the only one who didn’t pick Kansas, Duke, etc, etc. Try to mix it up a bit and pick a team no one else will. I remember only one person from my work bracket picked Syracuse last year. Look how that turned out…

This is the time of year to join in on the conversation, get ballsy and believe that Cinderella stories can happen. They usually don’t, but whats the harm in believing in something other than the impeachment process.

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