Picking your bracket based on mascots usually yields high returns. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It's the most wonderful time of year again, as the NCAA Tournament bracket has been set and games are scheduled to kick off this Thursday. Everybody's favorite, the Villanova Wildcats, were drawn into the field as a 9-seed in the East Region.
But the NCAA Tournament is about so much more than just your school - it's about trying to fill out the perfect bracket in an attempt prove yourself as better than your colleagues at something that takes a lot more luck than actual skill. Still though, when you actually win these damn pools, you've got a year's worth of bragging rights, and if you've got friends like I do - it's priceless.
So because we're such amazing people here at The Nova Blog, we're going to break it down for you. We'll give you a few different ways to pick your bracket, and when you undoubtedly win the whole thing in a few weeks, we'll have one of those unspoken moments where I realize something good has happened to one of my readers and you'll solemnly look up into the sky and give thanks.
Or maybe you'll take your winnings and maniacally laugh.
How to pick your 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket, after The Jump.
To begin, make sure that you always follow these two basic rules, even if you don't follow college basketball that much:
- No #1 seeds will lose in the 1st round, ever. Conversely, all four #1 seeds WILL NOT make the Final 4.
- Take a look at team's records in the last 5 games. Having momentum means more than you think, and is usually why high seeds get upset.
- If you're the organizer of the pool, of you follow college basketball the most out of your friends, you have a 0% chance of winning your pool. It's as solid as the Chicago Cubs curse.
So without any more rambling, I present the 3 strategies of picking your bracket:
Over-Analyze The Crap Outta It, And Be Unhappy With It
We all have this guy in our close circle of friends. He's printed out a blank bracket before the Selection Show and is filling it out as the teams are announced, already concocting different scenarios and trying to pick sleepers. He's probably even doing research on which refs are working what games. By Thursday, he's got 8 different brackets for one pool, and goes into a panic, barely getting his bracket in on time. And at the end of it all, he's not happy with it, and it's a terrible bracket anyways.
You don't want to be this guy.
Picking Your Bracket Based On Team Colors And Mascots
Actually, this isn't the worst way to go. Sure, you're throwing regular season performances and seeding to the wind. But screw it, Wichita State's mascot is the Shockers, and that's friggan awesome. Sweet 16 for them. What the hell is a Buckeye? I'm not sure but they are not beating the Wildcats in Round 2 (oh please, please, please). Besides, this strategy has all sorts of karma built in. It's usually the few girls that the men invite thinking they're adding money to the final pot. Not so. You're looking at someone who places in the money.
Your First Instincts Are Always The Best
This is what I always try to accomplish year-in and year-out. I take a bracket, and make a gut-reaction pick to each game as I fill out each round. Usually, if you follow college basketball as closely as I do, you're going to be more right than wrong this way. Plus, it takes away all the stress of trying to pick the Old Dominion-Butler game when neither team is getting by Pittsburgh in Round 2 anyways. Let's be honest, you're not winning this thing anyways because the colors/mascot crew are, so removing all the unnecessary stress is the next best thing.
So there you have it - I'd recommend either #2 (if you don't have a lot of knowledge) or #3 if you do actually follow college basketball at all. Just realize that the least confident person is probably going to win. I know, maddening.