Advice For Filling Out Your NCAA Brackets: Don’t Take Anyone’s Advice

Other than the rare times when my favorite teams are playing for championships, there isn’t anything in sports I get more excited about than the NCAA tournament. I love college basketball in general. I am a rare fan who will watch from the very first tip in early November all the way to the final buzzer of the championship game.

With that said, I get into the tournament largely for the same reason as the guy from your office who doesn’t know Georgetown from George Mason: the brackets.

While I’ll certainly watch as much of the tournament as I possibly can, the games in the later rounds lose a bit of their luster once my bracket has bit the dust. For all of its faults — and this year’s selections have many — the tournament format is still as close to perfection as you’ll find. The brackets and the pools that go along with them have a perfect marriage with the games themselves. If the NCAA ever decides to reseed after each round or make some other fundamental change to the format, CBS (and now TNT, TBS and TruTV this year) would lose a huge number of viewers because filling out a bracket would be impossible once a true tournament style is taken away.

Enjoy the game. Enjoy making your selections. But one piece of advice: Don’t seek out any kind of help. Chances are it won’t lead you to the glory of winning your pool.

I’ve never won an NCAA pool, and I’ve probably done about 20 or so in my life. I don’t even think I’ve come in the top three. Again, I’m a huge college basketball fan. I’ve seen almost every one of the 68 teams in the field play this season, and many of them multiple times. This isn’t a good thing when it comes to making picks.

I’ll start to think, “this team has more seniors, so its experience will put it through” or “that team doesn’t have the size inside to match up with its opponent.” This type of overthinking is what you’ll get if you listen to any one of ESPN’s college basketball talking heads — most of whom I like by the way. And those guys know a lot more than I do, so they’ll really have you trusting them when it comes to bracket assistance. Don’t fall for it.

The tournament is always filled with upsets and who the heck knows where they’ll come from? This year appears to be tougher than ever. There is no dominant team, and beyond the top four seeds in each region you might as well pick out of a hat for teams seeded 5 through 12 (no team is favored by more than six points in such matchups).

Of course I will still do my research, recall the games I’ve seen involving the teams, and make my most educated predictions for the tournament. And more than likely I will have a below average bracket that will be fit for shredding on Sunday afternoon, if not earlier.

So if you like to pick based on mascots or team colors, go for it. If you want your dog to make your picks, have at it. If you pick based on which school requires the higher SAT scores, good for you.

Just don’t listen to the experts. Don’t even listen to me. In fact, forget you even read this. Just make your picks and enjoy the games!

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