Via Midwest Sports Fans:
We’re almost three weeks into the month of March, and the Madness has finally begun.
Whether you’re the type of person who looks at every detail of every matchup, or the type to simply fill your bracket out on a whim, there are a few general rules of thumb to follow when getting started with your NCAA Tournament bracket predictions.
1) Don’t over-analyze the seeds.
The seeds are important in constructing the bracket, but after that they’re really just numbers.
Yes, there’s never been a 16 seed that has beaten a 1 seed, but all four one seeds have made the Final Four only once (2008) since the bracket expanded to 64 teams.
Matchups matter. So try to take the seeds out of the equation and pick a winner based on who you actually think will win the game, not just because you think the 8-seed should automatically beat the 9-seed.
There are upsets every year, and it’s your job to determine what those are going to be.
2) Be rational about your favorite team.
Filling in a correct bracket and rooting for your favorite team are two separate things.
If you’re an Iona grad, be excited but don’t get too crazy. Your team has a date with red-hot Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State. Chances are the 15th-seeded Gaels won’t make it out of the first round.
More than likely, there will be a Cinderella team. But going by sheer numbers, it’s probably not going to be your team.
If your favorite team is a perennial contender such as Kansas, take a long, hard look at each game before automatically penciling the Jayhawks into the Final Four.
3) Compare common opponents.
Not sure if you want to pick Ole Miss as a 12-5 upset against Wisconsin? Take a look at how they fared against common opponents.
The Rebels are coming off a 66-63 win over Florida in the SEC Tournament, but lost to the Gators in the regular season. The Badgers suffered a bad 74-56 loss to Florida back in November.
Keep in mind this is a very small sample size, but it might be just the detail you need to make the gutsy pick in your bracket.
4) Don’t put too much stock into win/loss records.
Just like seeds, records are really just numbers.
There is a reason Gonzaga is 31-2. The Bulldogs are very good, but keep in mind that their schedule isn’t exactly strong.
The Bulldogs’ potential foe in the second round, Pittsburgh, has eight losses. But that is by no means a guarantee that Gonzaga will cruise past the Panthers into the Sweet 16, because Pitt is more battle-tested coming from the Big East.
Records do mean something, but take a look at how some of these teams have been playing recently. The Liberty Flames started the season 0-8, but they are playing good basketball now despite their awful record and are going to be a feisty potential opponent for Louisville in the round of 64.
5) Trust veteran coaches.
John Calipari, Jim Calhoun, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Billy Donovan and Jim Boeheim are the seven coaches who have won the past 10 national championships.
While all of those coaches aren’t in the tournament this year, the ones who have their teams in the tournament will be tough outs.
Other coaches like Tom Izzo and Brad Stevens have had their teams in
multiple title games and are less prone to early upsets.
6) Go with your gut.
That’s part of the fun of March Madness.
If you really feel like Minnesota is going to be a difficult matchup for sixth-seeded UCLA, make the pick!
If you watched Miami win the ACC Tournament and think the ‘Canes are
ready for a Final Four run, go for it!
You can do all the research in the world, but it all comes down to actually making the pick. There’s almost never a perfect bracket, so go with your gut.
The worst feeling is having the correct pick initially, but getting it wrong because you changed the pick last minute.