March Madness is coming!

Selection Show is Sunday Night

On Sunday night, the NCAA will be front and center on CBS and after a long season of ups, downs, dunks and buzzer beaters, we will know who the final 68 teams being selected for the men’s college basketball championship will be. March Madness is upon us. Time to get your bracket on. It’s obviously an exciting time for college basketball, but it’s also a special time of year of the sports fan, particularly the casual sports fan. That’s what the bracket does. It makes it interesting.

It’s hard to pay attention to everything going on in college basketball throughout the whole season. There’s the top 25 ranked teams but then there’s the conference races, the pre-season favorites, the great coaches, the exceptional players and even the ongoing scandals to consider. It’s a lot to sift through. Like most of us who have only been paying partial attention to what’s been going on, after the selection show, we are suddenly asked to become bracket masters and pick who we think the champion will be. And for some reason, we happily accept this challenge. Catching a case of March Madness makes us think we are college basketball experts and that we have what it takes to pick a winner. We are driven by the challenge of the bracket which excites us and sucks us in.

Bracket Pointers

  • Here are a few pointers for the casual sports fan to get through the bracket and on to the joys of March Madness. Sure, you’ll come up against the people that know the foul shooting percentage of the third man off the bench for the Creighton Bluejays, but if the bracket has taught us anything it’s that you never really know what’s going to happen. It’s anyone’s bracket.
  • Root like hell for your favorite teams, but don’t get silly with your bracket. There’s a chance that Providence will make it to the dance, and possibly even URI too. If they do, get behind them! Cheer them on! But when it comes to your bracket, be sensible. Can they really squeeze by a number 1 or 2 seed? Upsets happen, but don’t bank on them.
  • Bank on upsets. Ok, that contradicts the last statement, but upsets will and do happen. Don’t fill out your bracket by picking the higher ranked team all the way through. At some point, if you want to win, you have to pick a few upsets. Pick a ten seed to beat a seven seed or a nine seed over an eight. That’s where things go awry and you can pick up a few extra points if you pick them right. So make sure your bracket has a few surprises, just don’t pick every game as an upset.
  • The high seeds, your ones and twos, earned that spot. Don’t expect too many losses by them in the early rounds. Once you get to the Elite Eight, maybe that’s when the big dogs will go down so perhaps pick an upset there. But the NCAA kind of knows what they’re doing making those teams the top seeded and they even give them an easier route to the finals, so take their advice.
  • Most brackets are scored by getting points for each game picked correctly. The first round has 32 games, so that’s a great opportunity to build some points. Pick that first round carefully. Picks in the later rounds are often weighted more heavily, so those picks are equally as important, but being in the lead after the first two days of games is always a bragging right that you can be proud of.
  • That person that picks teams based on uniform colors or mascot names? They win the whole thing some times. It’s the old adage that any one team can beat any other team on any given day. In other words, don’t go crazy on your research. Have fun. Follow your gut.
  • As a rule, banking on winning the tournament as a retirement plan or as the means to pay off your student loans is usually unwise. Stay within your means and have fun. Winning the bragging rights is half the fun. Worried about losing your life savings shouldn’t factor in.
  • If you happen to pick a perfect bracket and guess every single game correctly, you should  probably be working in Vegas or for NASA. The odds of that happening are estimated at 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that would be a number with 20 digits in it). If that happens – congratulations, you are about to become an internet star.
  • When in doubt, flip a coin. It’s as good a method as any.

Good luck with brackets and let’s all hope for a Friars vs Rams final!

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