Bracket Domination: Five Tips for Picking a Winning Bracket

by Ryan Mayer

We’re finally here, the bracket has been set, the debate about the teams left out has quieted down (cue SMU fans leaving the page) and we’re all feverishly filling out our brackets with visions of Warren Buffett’s billion dancing in our heads.  With this in mind I wanted to throw my voice in the ring as to some rules to consider when making your bracket picks.  You can follow them, or just read them and laugh at me later.  Either way, here are five can’t miss strategies for picking a dominating bracket:

1)    Don’t try to be the smartest guy in the room: Look we all want to be the ones who make that upset pick that nobody else saw coming.  Let’s face it, for as many upsets as there have been through the years, our search for that 12, 13, 14 or 15 seed that could win their first round game and make a deep run often torpedoes our brackets. The old stand-by, the classic KISS applies, Keep It Simple Stupid.  All-time there have been seven 15 seeds, seventeen 14 seeds, twenty five 13 seeds, and forty one 12 seeds that recorded victories their first round games. Only one 12 seed has ever made it past the Sweet Sixteen and zero 13-15 seeds have.

2)    Beware the trendy upset pick: Belmont anyone? No? How about this year’s pick: Stephen F Austin? Look it’s not that I don’t love upsets, I do, but generally there’s always buzz that surrounds a team because one person makes the pick and then a bunch of people who have seen the team play twice all year, latch on and say they knew all along. Don’t get sucked in. Which brings me to my next rule:

3)    When in doubt go chalk: The top seeds in the tournament are there for a reason. Because they are the best of the best in the top conferences in America. (Wichita State haters enter comment here) They deserve that seed and generally are the most talented, athletic, experienced teams in the country. When it comes to March, rarely can you go wrong with picking a one seed to go to the Final Four (Wichita State haters once again).

4)    Go with your gut: Related to the last point many of us (myself included as one of the biggest offenders) over-think our brackets trying to gain an edge. Don’t do it. Once you fill out your bracket don’t look at it again until after the games start. Your first thoughts will generally be your best. (You could also hand the bracket to a friend or significant other with no interest and have them picked based on nicknames and/or jersey colors)

5)    Never doubt Tom Izzo- Look, this is something that gets talked about a lot but this guy can flat out coach come March. He’s 39-15 in NCAA Tournament games.  Let me run that by you again. He’s 39-15. That’s a 72.2% winning percentage. If this team were to not make the Final Four it would be the first four year class Izzo has had at MSU that didn’t make at least one Final Four run. If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.

And with that I wish you a happy bracket choosing season and here’s to tearing them all up come Saturday! Enjoy the tourney!