2019 NCAA Tournament Advice and Help for a Winning March Madness Bracket
It's that time of year again. You know, the best time of year: when March Madness is upon us and everyone is busy doing, redoing, and continuing to redo their brackets. And then when they're done redoing that bracket, they'll do another one. Rare in this day and age does anyone rely on just one sheet of integrity. But everyone has that one sheet of integrity that they think is the winner and they submit to whichever pool has the biggest pot. So, let's take a look at some factors that may help you fill out the most important one in the best possible way.
Take the bias out of it
Simply put, don't pick your favorite team to cut down the nets in Minneapolis (or even in Washington, D.C., Anaheim, Louisville, or Kansas City for that matter) just because they're your favorite team. Similarly, don't pick your most hated team to win it all just because you think, "well, it will lessen the blow if I at least win some cash when Duke emerges as the champion." Trust me, the blow is not lessened whenever Coach K holds the trophy regardless of how much cash money flies into my pocket. And penciling Davidson deep into the bracket has worked out well for me only once (Stephen Curry, 2008). Moreover, unless you successfully predict someone like Maryland to be the National Champion, it is almost certainly going to take a lot savvier picks than simply the overall winner in order to bring home the bacon in your March Madness pool. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to have Duke; same for North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan State, etc. Assuming you have a somewhat mainstream champion, you're going to have to come up big in the Elite Eight, the Sweet 16, and maybe even the first and second rounds-probably with plenty of teams you know next to nothing about or perhaps haven't even heard of-in order to procure office bragging rights. So, pick with your head and not your heart, because the heart won't be enough.
Know what you know
You may be a college basketball "expert," in which case that's all well and good. But there are more than 300 teams in Division I, 68 of which are still vying for the championship and 64 of which will still be alive when they real thing tips off around noon on Thursday. You could do nothing in life other than watch college basketball all day every day on 11 different television screens and still not have an accurate grasp on a whole host of teams in this tournament. If you think you know a lot about Liberty, Bradley, Vermont, Northern Kentucky, Montana, Gardner-Webb, UC-Irvine, Colgate, Iona, New Mexico State, Northeastern, and Abilene Christian, think again. But there are surely many of you who do know a lot, and can know even more with a little bit of research (note: it will take a lot more than "a little bit" of research to get up to speed on the likes of Gardner-Webb and Abilene Christian). You do know-or an easily find out-which head coaches are proven winners in the Big Dance. For example, Tom Izzo would have a chance of reaching the Final Four even if he was starting Ollie from Hoosiers at the one, the two, the three, the four, and the five. You know which of the top teams have the guard play necessary to make a deep run and which ones have a dominant post presence that can be a matchup problem for smaller opponents. Don't overthink it; trust your knowledge and for the most part go with your first instinct.
Easy does it on upsets
Almost everyone loves picking upsets-especially in the first two rounds. Just think of all the bragging rights you will have in the office on Friday morning if you accurately pick Montana to defeat Florida State. "Woo hoo! Look at me! I had the Grizzlies!" Again, that's all well and good, but it's probably not going to do you much good in the end unless you also have those Grizzlies in the Elite Eight and they actually end up making it there (unlikely at best). Early-round upsets aren't going to win you the pool; but they might lose it for you. Just think if you pick Colgate to oust Tennessee and the Raiders lose by 30. That doesn't just cost you in the first round, but it continues to cripple your chances as the Volunteers keep advancing through the draw and racking up points for everyone who was all over Rick Barnes' squad-everyone but you, of course. Upsets also aren't as common as you might think. Most years at least half the Elite Eight is comprised of No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. Yes, some do happen. But correctly nailing the few that actually come to fruition takes more luck than skill. Don't reach for getting lucky.
Read more articles by Ricky Dimon
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