Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it…while those who dig deep into the stats have a leg up on building a bodacious bracket. You take a little bit of geography, a side dish of coaching experience, mix it together with some historical dominance, and the result is a tasty little entrée we like to call the greatest three weeks of the year. Read on as CHD’s Jon Teitel gives you 16 sweet tips for success: his free advice is worth every penny, unless someone like the 2014 champs come along to break all the rules.
TIP #1: No team that lost its opening game in its conference tournament has ever gone on to win the NCAA title that same year.
STRATEGY: The extra few days of rest have not proven helpful so take a long hard look at Iowa or West Virginia before penciling them in as your champ.
TIP #2: Since 1979 only two national champions did not have a McDonald’s All-American on their roster (2002 Maryland and 2014 UConn).
STRATEGY: A coach who can recruit the best high school players often win it all so beware of picking Baylor or Oklahoma to win it all.
TIP #3: The last coach to win a title in his first year as coach at a school was Tubby Smith at Kentucky in 1998.
STRATEGY: History is not on the side of Butler (Chris Holtmann) or North Dakota State (David Richman).
TIP #4: From 1991-2013 there were 23 straight champs from a power-conference (until UConn won it all in 2014): ACC (8), SEC (6), Big East (5), Pac-12 (2), Big 12 (1), Big 10 (1).
STRATEGY: You might want to think twice before picking anyone from the A-10 or MWC to win it all.
TIP #5: Only three coaches with four or fewer prior tournament appearances have won the title since 1985 (Steve Fisher/Tom Izzo/Kevin Ollie).
STRATEGY: Teams like Northern Iowa (Ben Jacobson has two prior tourney appearances) and Utah (Larry Krystkowiak has two prior tourney appearances) might need a little more seasoning before they can win it all.
TIP #6: Each champ since 2002 had a strength of schedule that was among the top-75 in the nation.
STRATEGY: You have to play the best to learn how to beat the best so stay away from Gonzaga (#81) and Wichita State (#109).
TIP #7: Only three teams have won an NCAA title after not being in the tournament the previous year (1986 Louisville/2003 Syracuse/2014 UConn).
STRATEGY: Arkansas (2014 NIT) and Notre Dame (no postseason tourney in 2014) are finally ready for primetime but not quite ready to win a title.
TIP #8: BYU has played in the most NCAA tournaments (27) without ever making the Final 4.
STRATEGY: If the Cougars could not reach the Final 4 with Danny Ainge/Jimmer Fredette they will probably not make it with this year’s squad.
TIP #9: There are seven active coaches who have won at least 67% of their NCAA tournament games (minimum 5 appearances).
STRATEGY: Do not expect Tom Izzo (72.4 W/L%) or Roy Williams (74.1 W/L%) to be catching an early flight home.
TIP #10: There are two teams who have won at least 90% of their games in the round of 64 (minimum five games).
STRATEGY: North Carolina (25-1) has only lost their opening game once and Kansas (29-2) is almost as automatic.
TIP #11: There are 8 teams who have won at least 75% of their games in the round of 32 (minimum five games).
STRATEGY: Arizona (16-4) is looking good vs. the VCU-Ohio State winner, but the Cincinnati-Purdue winner better pray for a miracle when facing Kentucky (24-6) in the third round.
TIP #12: There are five teams who have won at least 80% of their Sweet 16 games (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: North Carolina (24-6) and Providence (4-1) have each won 80% of their Sweet 16 games, so Wisconsin and Virginia should not rest on their higher-seeded laurels.
TIP #13: There are six teams who have won at least 75% of their Elite 8 games (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Duke has won 15 of its 19 Elite 8 games (78.9%) and Louisville has won 10 of its 13 Elite 8 games (76.9%) so keep an eye on each of them if they can make it to the 2nd Sunday.
TIP #14: There are two teams who have won at least 80% of their Final 4 games (minimum five games).
STRATEGY: Georgetown is 4-1 in the Final 4 so if you pick them to survive the South Region then you might want to pick them to get all the way to the title game.
TIP #15: There are 9 teams who have won at least 80% of their NCAA tournament games in their home state (minimum five games).
STRATEGY: You should bank on Duke (32-6 in the state of NC) winning in Charlotte and you could do worse than betting on Kentucky in Louisville (118-48 in the state of KY).
TIP #16: There are six teams who have won at least 70% of their NCAA tournament games as an at-large team (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Even though Kansas did not win the Big 12 tourney they have a good track record when they do not get an automatic bid (52-20).