March Madness: Road to the Final Four
Get ready to research your teams, watch analysis, and fill out your bracket because it’s time for the NCAA tournament. Every year millions of people make their picks before the tournament only to tear up their brackets two rounds in. So how can you assure that your bracket won’t be a travesty this year? You can’t. But following these tips will give you a chance to make a better bracket, whether it be for an office pool or just for fun.
Keep your eye on the prize
Before you even pick up a pen this year, ask yourself what is the goal of the competition you’re in? All competitions have their own ways of deciding their winner. Some go with a basic point system where every game is worth the same. In others, games are worth more points as the tournament goes on. Your strategy should revolve around the way your competition is set up. If points are worth the same in every game, feel free to pick bigger upsets in the first and second rounds. However, if point values get larger as the tournament goes on, be more conservative. Many will be tempted to take some higher seeds into the Final Four. But if you do this and your teams don’t come through, you will just be throwing away points when it matters most. In other words, don’t lose the competition yourself- make the others in the pool win it.
Pick the occasional upset
If you aren’t in some sort of competition and just want to have fun and do your best, go for some upsets. The great thing about college basketball is that no team in the tournament can be counted out (need I remind you of George Mason or VCU). Only once in NCAA history (2008) have all number one seeds made it to the Final Four. Here’s a breakdown of the likelihood of all other seeds advancing to the Final Four:
Don’t be afraid to take an 11 over a six or a seven over a ten. Remember, when it comes to NCAA basketball anything is possible and once the teams are on the court, rankings go out the window. That being said, don’t go too crazy with upsets. Also, no team higher than an eleven seed has ever made it to the Final Four. And of course, no 16 seed has ever defeated a one seed.
Pick Teams With Momentum
In all sports, teams with momentum and confidence tend to excel, no matter what seed or what odds they are given to win. College basketball is no different. Sometimes higher seeds that would normally have little chance in the tournament can ride momentum past the first few rounds. Take note of conference tournaments. Look at teams who won their conference. By going beyond the numbers, you can see how a team is feeling. For example, this year Duke, UNC, and Syracuse were all ousted in their respective conference tournaments. For this reason, I only have one of these number one seeds advancing to the Final Four. Furthermore, Florida State surprised many people and won arguably the most difficult conference in the country. This is why I look for them to go deep in the tournament.
The Cliché ‘Have Fun!’
Okay, okay, okay, it may be the cheesiest line out there. But seriously, don’t think of your bracket as a chore. Have fun with it. Making picks always seems to make games more interesting and more enjoyable. Cheer your teams on and good luck!