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Tournament Time Is Coming: How Should You Pick?

March, the most maddening time of year. But now you’re in it: the NCAA tournament. The office pools, your friends’ pools, the online pools, you’re in it. But, if you’re in it, be in it to win it. It’s time to fill in the all-mighty NCAA basketball bracket. The NCAA tournament is one of the greatest events in sports. Forget professional sports for a minute. These titans of the game play for one thing — the game. The sheer passion is what makes the NCAA Tournament so improbable, so unlikely, and so maddening when it comes to bracket success. And you definitely don’t want the human resources lady to win because her nephew goes to VCU.

Speaking of probabilities, USA Today reports that filling in the perfect bracket is statistically a one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance. You’re more likely to hit a hole-in-one, while getting hit by lighting, while getting bit by an alligator, while winning the Democratic bid for president than to fill in the perfect bracket. The good news is your bracket doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough to beat your boss, the annoying human resources lady, and your friends. Below are five tips to make your Journey To (Through) The Tourney a bit less maddening.

Get on the Court

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Image via Flickr by SD Dirk

Needless to say, the first step to filling in the bracket is being somewhat knowledgeable about NCAA basketball. You don’t have to know every team’s midseason shooting percentage, but you should understand what conference they came from, their strength of schedule, and their superstars. Did you know Davidson was Davidson when they were in the tournament? Yeah, they had a point guard named Stephen Curry. A team with a superstar, regardless of team, is primed for a first round upset.

Defense is Always a Good Offense

Defense is key when it comes to understanding a team’s ability. The most talented team will have huge problems when they meet a team with a good defense. If Saint John’s is playing Kentucky and Kentucky doesn’t score, then Saint John’s will win. Always keep a look out for teams with excellent defenses. In other words, Virginia.

Don’t be a Slave to Seeding

Seeding is seeding is seeding. Of course, seeding has its place in filling out a bracket. Of course, your #2 team is probably going to beat your #12 team, but not always. Understanding seeding is an important concept when it comes to filling out a winning bracket. You can’t win without taking some dark horses. Become familiar with a team’s conference. Maybe MAC isn’t the ACC, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t good.

Get on the Boards


Image via Flickr by SD Dirk

Rebounds are game changers. Offense rebounds, defensive rebounds — game changers. You can’t score unless you have the ball, and second chance points are a winning strategy. If a team, regardless of their conference, has an incredible front court then they deserve your attention. They might not make it to the Final Four, but rebounds can get them into the Sweet 16. Adjust your bracket accordingly.

Forget Your Loyalties

This may be the hardest part about filling out a bracket. Your team, in all likelihood, isn’t going to win it all. You must forget your loyalties. Although tough, it’s essential. Take out the pom-poms and wear your team’s colors, but when it comes to who’s moving forward, there’s a chance it’s not your team. Filling out a bracket that has your team taking it all is a recipe for broken-bracket disaster. Of course, this a moot point if your team is the following: UNC, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas.

The NCAA tournament is one of the most beautiful events in sports. However, March Madness can be heartbreaking if not approached with diligence and caution. By following these tips by, you’ll be prepared for every tip-off. Remember, you have a chance, even if it’s one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

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