Whether you are a casual sports fan or an avid college basketball know-it-all, chances are that you are filling out your NCAA bracket this week. Here are some helpful guidelines for filling out your bracket that are very simple to follow.
1) Be Smart
Ah, one of my main guidelines for... - most things in life. If you are in a office pool for money or just trying to impress someone else with a great bracket do a little research, it won't hurt anyone. Keep in mind that seven of the last ten National Champions won their conference tournaments the same season, and many teams who make deep runs in the Big Dance have had success late in the season. Don't make idiotic picks like #16 seeds over #1 seeds because it has never and may never happen. Even if it does, it doesn't really matter because the risk isn't anywhere near worth the reward. If you are having some trouble, here is a great webpage on ESPN to look at the history of seed-by-seed matchups in the tournament.
2) Find Your Balance
I have seen different sites that say, on average, there are anywhere from 15 to 21 upsets per year, so that is a good guideline to follow. For all intensive purposes, an upset is going to be defined as a lower seed beating a higher seed, for instance, a #9 beating a #8 is considered an upset even though #9 seeds do have more head-to-head wins, historically. The 2006 and 2007 tournaments were almost completely opposite in that '06 was full of surprises and '07 was completely predictable. The first round in '06 consisted of 9 upsets, 8 of which were double-digit seeds, yet in '07 only two #11 seeds and three #9 seeds pulled off first round upsets. Just know, if you have to pick between being safe and sorry, go with the safe. If you don't really know too much about college basketball pick mostly high seeds and a few upsets. Don't get too ridiculous with the number of upsets in your bracket because there is a reason that teams are a top four seed.
3)Know That Luck Is Involved
When #11 seed George Mason made the Final Four in 2006, no one could have predicted that, yet there were still brackets on Yahoo and ESPN that had all four Final Four teams correct. It kind of makes you wonder if people sit in front of their computer and fill out hundreds and hundreds of brackets the week leading up to the tournament - hopefully, no one is that sad, but I have a sad hunch that some people are. Just realize that a lot of making your bracket is luck, so if I were you I wouldn't put my life savings on things like March Madness.