We are just one day away from the 'Madness' and this is my favorite time of year. For the most part, the first round is just a tune up game for the big boys and all they hope to accomplish is getting an early lead, avoid injury, and be able to rest their players for a grueling five games that may lie ahead.
Sometimes this is easier said then done, but since the field was stretched to the current format of 64 teams only four times has a number two seed lost in the first round. A number one seed has yet to lose in first round action. Therefore picking high seed upset usually leads to trouble when trying to win your office pool. This following will offer some tips that can help you become the king of your office pool. The first piece of advice when filling out your bracket is to work backwards. Start by selecting your final four teams, then go back to your elite eight, sweet sixteen and so forth. This allows you to think in broad terms by using your first instincts.
Next up is to come to the realization that the cream of the crop usually rises once the first two rounds of action are completed. While numerous upsets happen in the first round, only a few of them advance past round two. Last season, only one double-digit seeded team made it to the sweet sixteen. An average about two or three teams make it and they usually come from the big six conferences. A few teams that fit this profile this season are UCLA, North Carolina State, and Iowa. However, when I look at these three teams, I can only see NC State doing some damage in the tournament.
Moving on the train, the next thing to look for is weak No. 1 seeds out of the PAC-10 Conference. Last season, Stanford went out in the second round despite being a No. 1 seed and having only one loss on the season. This also happened in 2000, when two No. 1 seeds from the PAC-10 went out in round two. It just so happens this season that the Washington Huskies have a No. 1 seed. However, I feel this Huskies team has the ability to reach the Final Four. They have great depth and their style of play forces other teams to score near triple digits to beat them. But tradition and a potential match-up against Pittsburgh in round two are not on their side.
Finally, the third thing to look for is using common sense when selecting your Final Four teams. For the most part, teams that reach the Final Four are No. 4 seeds or higher. If you are in an Internet pool with millions of entries and feel that you must select at least one dark horse in order to have a chance to compete, I would suggest picking teams from big conferences. Wisconsin and North Carolina both made the Final Four as eight seeds in 2000. If a sleeper does get into the Final Four, you can bet that it will come from a major conference.
That's it for now and be sure to check later this week, as I offer more free tournament bracket advice -- my Final Four predictions free of charge!
Click the following link for a free printable tournament bracket.
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