Whether you’ve got just one empty Big Dance bracket staring back at you or five, here’s a few pointers before you put that crucial $20 on the line:
1. Be wary of the “hot” teams
I know it’s tempting to take teams like Mississippi State and USC after they both just ran through their conference tournaments, but be careful. Look at the teams that have pulled off similar runs in the past few years: ‘Cuse in ’06 and Georgia in ’08. Both were back at school before they even knew the tournament began. Luckily for them, their conference championships were still fresh in the minds of the girls on campus and they probably forgot about their early exits from the Tourney pretty easily.
2. Stick to your gut
It doesn’t matter how much research you do or how many hours you put into breaking everything down; make your picks and roll with them. Don’t second-guess yourself. You think Susie from accounts payable is doing anything more than “Ooh, I’m gonna take USC because I loooove Los Angeles“? Nope.
3. Remember 1985
That was the only year in which three teams from the same conference made it to the Final Four. Oddly enough, that conference was the Big East, which has a legitimate shot to replicate the feat this year. If Syracuse can pull off upsets over Oklahoma and UNC, we could see an unprecedented four Big East teams in the Final Four (‘Cuse, Louisville, Pitt, UConn). For the record, if this happens, I want Mike Slive and the rest of the Awkward Handshake Crew to go to Providence and kiss Keno Davis‘ feet.
4. Stew Morrill, head coach of Utah State
Do you really wanna bet against a man who shows blatant disregard for the 21st century by wearing the glasses that he does? Not me. I’m scared to even pick against them in my pool. I can’t imagine the sheer terror that Marquette must be feeling right now. Good Luck Golden Eagles. You’re gonna need it.
5. Duke = Doom
Since their last National Championship in 2001, the Dukies have been to the Final Four just once (2004). Other than that, they haven’t advanced past the Sweet Sixteen one time! That’s pretty incredible for a team that has received four 1-seeds, a 2-seed (not including this year), and a 3-seed. I’m surprised people don’t talk about this more. Actually, no I’m not. The Duke love-fest makes me sick and personally, I’m counting down the days until A.J. Abrams sends the Cameron Crazies packing. Take it to the bank!