Bracketology 101

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Its that time of year again, time for March Madness. The NCAA basketball tourney is huge in the United States, so huge that President Obama spends more time tinkering with his bracket than he does trying to dissuade the Iranians of their nuclear ambitions.

For the non-basketball fan the prospect of participating in an office bracket pool or just even amongst friends may be daunting. But this need not be the case.

I know next to nothing about basketball, I don’t even like the sport, but I consistently pick a better bracket than my buddy who is nuts about March Madness. This friend of mine lets call him PVW in order to protect his identity spends hours researching, travels to watch the games and considers the annual post-tournament presentation of “One Shining Moment” the highlight of his year. Nevertheless year in and year out I pick a better bracket. This is because I have devised a set of ironclad laws that never fail. With this in mind I give, as a gift to you, my top ten rules to picking a successful NCAA bracket, particularly for those who care little to nothing about NCAA basketball.

1. Do not pick the chalk
– Picking the “Chalk” also known as predicting all number one seeds to make the final four is a surefire way to self-destruct. Yes, it’s likely that this chalk phenomenon will come to fruition. However, even if you go this route and turn out correct nobody will give you any credit.

2. Pick upsets but not too many
– Often called the tournament of Cinderella’s, the NCAA tournament is known for its propensity to propel teams nobody has ever heard of all the way to the Elite Eight and permanently etch their spot in the national memory. For example, a few years back it was umm…er… George Washington the Mason University. Now high school graduates across the land flock to GWMU due to the notoriety earned by that team in the tourney.

3. Pick a 12 seed to beat a 5 seed
– I’m told this happens often.

4. Teams named Wildcats or any cat for that matter tend to do well
– This may have to do with the fact that these teams get 9 chances or “lives” if you will, before they are actually eliminated.

5. If you like a coach’s appearance/wardrobe pick that team
– Maybe you’re a tracksuit kind of guy or gal, pick Don Huggin’s West Virginia Mountaineers. Maybe you fancy yourself an imposing figure with a moustache, pick John Thomson the third’s Georgetown Hoyas. Maybe you’re Don Cherry, pick Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee Volunteers.

6. If you know where a team plays pick that team to do well
– Do you know where Lamar or Iona is based? Didn’t think so. They’re in the play-in games anyways those teams rarely even manage to win one game.

7. If you can’t possibly figure out where a team plays, pick that team to do well
– Lamar and Iona this year’s dark horses

8. If you like the name of the University do not pick that team to do well
– Gonzaga, Loyola, Xavier, these names roll off the tongue beautifully. However, it’s the only rolling these teams tend to do

9. If you’ve heard of a player on a team pick that team once or thrice but never twice
– Pretty self-explanatory

10. Do not look at other people’s brackets
– This is the most-important rule. To keep a clear mind and a straight conscience it is imperative that you do not look at any of the so-called experts’ brackets. As Coach K would say “stick to the game plan people”.

Now you know the secret to my success and are on your way to winning your own bracket pool. Good luck!

PS After further research it has been determined that Bruce Pearl is no longer the coach of the Volunteers and that Tennessee is not even in the tournament this year. My apologies if you are Don Cherry.

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Ian Ross 

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