Semi-Serious Strategy for Winning an NCAA Tournament Pool

b-tyler-hansbrough-s-g-4f42ae0d0d70My 99.92 percentile bracket on ESPN won me $200 worth of free food.  I kicked Obama’s ass, so I feel I can claim to be a bracket master.  Eightieth percentile.  Loser!  Here are a few of my thoughts, that could allow you to bathe yourself in $200 worth of buffalo wings next year.  (Disclaimer: Not to Be Taken Too Seriously)

Chalk is Your Friend: Chalk is wimpy and safe, but it’s also smart. You win brackets by having the right teams in later rounds. Your best bet is to have better teams. Once in a lifetime there is a George Mason, but no one else had them either. You win by picking the right chalk. Your friends may call you a pansy on Wednesday. You can laugh when you have their money a few weeks later.

Don’t Watch The Regular Season: It’s a stupid cliché that it’s always some rube that wins the bracket, but there is some truth. Watching too much pre-tournament basketball can upset your logic. The tournament is a different animal. Things that make sense in the regular season, don’t necessarily translate to tournament play. Having seen something when a team played an obscure game in January can taint your logic. The only full games I watched all season featured Michigan. It worked well for me.

Avoid Extremism: When assessing tangible upsets, never underestimate the “no one believes in us” factor when teams are adrenalized entering the first round. If Dickie V, Doug Gottlieb, Jay Bilas and everyone else is enamored with an upset (Virginia Commonwealth over UCLA), do not pick it. If every analyst completely disregards an upset (Michigan over Clemson) take a chance on it.

Don’t Predetermine a Champion: Look at each matchup individually. Don’t crown the top of the pyramid until you have the underpinning base. You want to ascertain the most likely outcome in each scenario and build on that. You might get the right winner with a shot in the dark, but you’re far more likely to have a well-rounded bracket if you don’t mold it to conform to a preset reality.

Trust Your Instincts: This is a bit like standardized testing. There is no correct answer until afterward, but your first, sober gut feeling has a good chance of being right. If you have to spend 10 minutes talking yourself into a convoluted scenario that places Purdue in the Final Four, it’s probably not going to happen.

Just my thoughts.  Discredit them if you wish.

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