Greg GumBall has taken to our television screens and Dickie V is yelling about Jim Boeheim getting boned by the committee so that means the brackets have been announced and March Madness is officially here. As somebody who has filled out a perfect bracket three out of the last four years, I have certified myself as an expert in Bracketology alongside other legendary bracketologists such as Joe Lunardi and… really only Joe Lunardi. Therefore, I thought it only proper to share with everyone my Top 10 tips for filling out a perfect bracket. Here we go:
- F— Duke
Forever and always. Sure, you can pick Duke to win it all and they just might, but will you feel good about it? Maybe, but probably not because f— Duke and f— Grayson Allen. Your bracket can’t be perfect if you pick Duke to win it all because perfection isn’t just about picking every game in the NCAA Tournament correctly, but also about having integrity while doing so. You automatically sacrifice your integrity when you pick Duke, therefore eliminating any chance at true perfection.
- Don’t confuse St. Mary’s and Mt. St. Mary’s
I’ve done this before and it was a disaster. That Mt. makes all the difference in the world. It basically is an abbreviation for “this team blows and will lose by 50 in the first round” and that’s even assuming that Mt. St. Mary’s makes the first round because they have to beat New Orleans (not the Saints or the Pelicans) in that play-in game nobody watches or cares about.
- Despite their insistence, Wichita State and Jacksonville State are not states.
You can’t pick a team that’s going to straight up lie to everybody in America. These aren’t f—– states! Fade these imposter states and opt for real states like Florida State or Michigan State or South Dakota State.
- The numbers in front of each team are their seeds, not scores.
Very important to recognize this. I won’t make the mistake again of picking a team just because I think they are up 16-1 already.
- Always take Michigan State and UCONN to make the Final Four.
Always do this, even if they aren’t in the tournament.
- Don’t fill out your bracket in chalk.
I tried doing this one year because all I heard on ESPN was “chalk, chalk, chalk” so I went outside in front of my house and filled out my bracket on the sidewalk in chalk. My bracket got busted in the middle of the second day because it rained. Never again. Chalk sucks.
- Always pick one of those “First Four” winners to go far.
This is actually good advice. Since the inclusion of the “First Four” games, exactly one of those teams has won their first round game every year (Wichita State in 2016, Dayton in 2015, Tennessee in 2014, La Salle in 2013, South Florida 2012, VCU in 2011). Furthermore, four of these teams made deep runs (Tennessee to the Elite Eight, La Salle to the Elite Eight, South Florida to the Sweet Sixteen, and VCU to the Final Four). What I’m trying to say is that either SMU or Cincinnati is going down in the first round. I’m looking at USC with that Florida Gulf Coast guy as their head coach. All the “experts” thought that USC didn’t deserve to make it over Syracuse and that “last team in” seems to have success quite a bit (see, 2011 VCU). Assuming USC takes down Providence, they would get SMU who they have already beaten this year, Baylor who is the s——- tourney team ever besides Georgetown, and then Duke who — like I said before — f— Duke.
- Check the spreads.
The first round gives you the luxury of having spreads available so check them. Wichita State (not a state) is a six-point favorite as a ten-seed. Middle Tennessee is a one-point favorite as a 12 SEED! Looking for the upset? Don’t take a double digit underdog. Your big upsets last year were 14. Stephen F. Austin (+6.5) over 3. West Virginia, 12. Yale (+6) over 5. Baylor, 13. Hawaii (+6.5) over 4. Cal, and 12. Arkansas Little-Rock (+7.5) over 5. Purdue. Not so coincidentally, these were four of the five lowest spread games among the 5-12, 4-13, and 3-14 match-ups (4.Iowa State beat 13. Iona (+7)).
This year, it’s a lot easier. Middle Tennessee is a favorite as a 12, Princeton is +7 to Notre Dame as a 12, Nevada is +6 to Iowa State as a 12, UNC Wilmington is +7.5 to Virginia as a 12, and Vermont is +8.5 to Purdue as a 13. The rest of the higher seeds seem highly improbable (all +9.5 or above). There’s a pretty good chance you’ll see two or three of these teams spring upsets (or in the case of Mid Tenn. just a win).
Your best bets? Mid Tennessee obviously, Vermont because they seem to have the best shot among teams seeded 13 or higher (and Purdue is consistently a disappointing tourney team), and Princeton — the Ivy League is always sneaky. Iowa State no longer has Fred Hoiberg as their coach and finally made it out of the first round last year so I’ll pencil them in to the next round and Virginia is the heaviest favored 12 seed so I’ll move them on too.
- The Big Ten blows
It’s a terrible conference and you should pick against them in most situations, but Michigan State will still probably make the Final Four because nobody expects them to.
- Ignore the previous nine tips
This is the best advice of all.