After a year absence due to the devastation caused by the pandemic, we are slowly returning to some level of normalcy here and there. One part of the return is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament commonly known as “March Madness” that takes place every year but was canceled in 2020. For those of you who missed it last year and are thrilled to have it back, I get you.
It is truly one of the greatest events in sports. Some may say the Super Bowl, others might claim the nation’s oldest championship the World Series, and more might say some other event. For me, the only one that rivals it is the Olympics.
For those not yet initiated into this spectacle or who simply don’t get it, let me tell you why this annual tradition is so fantastic.
It is the one event in sports each year that allows the little guys to go up against the big guys in a way that gives them a chance to shine on a national stage. It brings people together of all ages, races, genders and across various social and economic settings from school to workplaces to pretty much any type of group or organization. It allows people to find heroes in the most unlikely of places as some team in double-digit seed with a student-athlete who had no scholarship offers helps his team to victory in the most inspiring on ways. Essentially, it is far deeper than basketball. This tournament weaves together so many incredible and captivating stories that reach out and pull at the human spirit. And the fact that this is all being done by amateur athletes, most of whom will never be paid to pay this game and simply play for the love of the sport itself, is perhaps the most engaging fact of all.
Now that the reason that this tournament is so outstanding has been covered, perhaps we should dive into the whole practice of filling out NCAA Tournament brackets.
I’d like to offer my ideas on what makes of a good bracket. I am not some kind of perennial winner in the pools in which I compete but I generally have a theory and I am sticking to it. Take It or leave it for your “just for fun” office pools as that I am not encouraging gambling. If that’s what you are into, that’s your business. But, I’m only giving my thoughts for fun.
Tip Number 1 – Don’t pick all Number 1 Seeds to reach the Final Four
It is a very rare occurrence that every top seed makes it to the semi-finals. Honestly, I don’t ever remember it happening. Once in a while it might be 3 out of 4. Usually it’s only 2 or 1. Do your research and you’ll see what I mean.
Tip Number 2 – Make sure to pick at least one 5 versus 12 matchup upset
The 5 versus 12 matchup is one that frequently sees upsets. Even the experts often mention this in their commentary. I often pick 2 12 seeds to move on into the second round.
Tip Number 3 – Other matchups you should consider for upset wins
A few other matchups I like to explore are the 7 versus 10 games and the 8 versus 9 ones. Theoretically, the 8 versus 9 games should be closely matched teams and while a 9 seed winning is technically an upset, it’s not something that would shock anyone. The 7 versus 10 contests isn’t as historically dangerous for the higher seed as the 5 versus 12 but it has seen its share of underdogs win.
Tip Number 4 – Records aren’t everything
Many times you will see a matchup with two teams that have drastically different records. For example, one might be 23-4 while the other is a humble 15-12. Sometimes you have to factor in the level of competition they face. The 15-12 group might have played far better teams.
Tip Number 5 – Ride with at least one double digit seed for several rounds
Pretty much every season, at least 1 team seeded 10 or below will make it at least 2 rounds deep to play in the Sweet 16. Often it can be an even lower seeded squad going to the Elite 8 or Final 4.
The bottom line is to have fun and enjoy this wonderful event for its few week run.
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