Keys To Winning the Non-Billion Dollar Bracket

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Updated: March 17, 2014
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It’s that time of year again, the brackets are out, and fans are listening to any and all advice on their quest to fill out the perfect bracket. Me? I don’t fill out my bracket in order for it to be perfect. Why? Because it won’t be. I fill out my bracket to win.

Trust me, there’s a difference. If you’re feeling exceptionally lucky on this St. Patrick’s Day, and believe that your bracket is leading you towards Warren Buffett’s pot of gold, then stop reading right here.

If you’re content with the 200 dollars that you’re going to win in your office pool, then keep reading. Here are the keys to a winning (not perfect) bracket

1. Stay away from Louisville and Michigan State. When two four seeds are favored to make it to the final four over three of the number 1 seeds, you know something is up.

Tom Izzo Spartans

From the casual fan’s eye, Louisville and Michigan St. got screwed over by being dealt four seeds. They didn’t, but that’s an argument for another day. Either way, four seeds should not be favored by the general population, and if you want to win your bracket, you’re going to have to deviate from the common path a bit.

If you’re going to follow the crowd on a Final Four pick, it better be a team that WILL get there (i.e. Louisville 2013).

Virginia and Iowa State could very well make it out of the East over Michigan State from my view, and those are much less popular choices. In the Midwest, Wichita State is being counted out by many people as early as the round of 32.

Even if you decide to take that path, Duke and Michigan are teams that people love to root against, and are completely viable Final Four options. 

2. Don’t force upsets in the first round. This year, while the top seeds are not overly powerful, the bottom seeds are exceptionally weak.

There is no reason to have any 13 over 4 upsets this year, the 13 seeds are all too weak. Everyone loves to pick a 12-5 upset, and while you can make cases for teams like SF Austin, North Dakota State, or NC State to win their matchups, you’re not here to make cases, you’re here to pick winners.

The real toss ups come in the 6-11 games. Each of the six seeds are teams that could very well lose in the first round, and if you’re someone who likes upsets, that’s a good place to start. Anywhere below that, you’ve got to be careful. 

3. Don’t discriminate against 1 seeds. Most people assume that most people have every 1 seed in the Final Four, which leads to most people veering away from having 1 seeds in the Final Four.

Arizona Wildcats

Florida seems to be a consensus choice to make it out of the South, but people seem to hate Arizona, Virginia, and Wichita State.

Just remember, 1 seeds are 1 seeds because they are good, not because everybody picks them. 

4. When in doubt, go by conference. Pitt in the ACC or Colorado in the Pac 12, with similar conference records? I’m going with Pitt, 9 times out of 10. UCLA or VCU in the second round?

If you see it as a toss-up, the advantage should go to UCLA. It’s pretty simple. Equal teams in record, and in seeding, but one plays a tougher schedule, that’s who you pick.

Obviously, not everything I say will end up being true. Louisville and Michigan State can end up in the Championship, and in that case you’re not going to win.

However, if that’s what you picked, then you are still going to have to stack up with everyone else who picked that. And obviously, there might be a 12-5 upset or maybe even a 13-4, but it’s so unlikely that it’s not worth picking.

Being the one person in your pool that picked Lehigh over Duke last year might have been cool, but in the end that’s not what wins the money. I’m giving you the best chance to win your March Madness pool, nothing more, nothing less.  

Tweet at me with any complaints/concerns @ShutUpJackson

Louisville basketball

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