March 17, 2014

Tips for Picking Out Your Bracket

Ah March Madness has arrived. We're two weeks away from baseball and the NCAA men's basketball tournament starts on Thursday*. It's a sports haven. The one downside to this time of the year is that you have to hear about people's fantasy teams in baseball or their brackets. I hate those people because they're the idiots who think they're really cute for picking a mid major to make the Elite 8. They're idiots and you shouldn't listen to them. 

*The play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday don't count in my eyes as actual tournament games

You should though listen to an idiot like me. Here are some tips for picking your brackets winners and losers. 

Pick teams that are in Ken Pomeroy's top 50 of adjusted defense and top 20 of adjusted offense: Teams that play defense and offense exceptionally well in college basketball are most likely the teams to advance far in the tournament. I would especially avoid teams that are almost all defense and little offense. Those teams usually stall out in the tournament and stall out early. Arizona is one of those teams with the number 1 defense but their offense is in the 30's. They're in that 20-50 range but that's a big gap between offensive and defensive efficiency. 

Avoid Steve Alford or Bo Ryan teams: There's just something about these guys where their teams freeze up in the tournament. Do you realize Ryan has only taken Wisconsin to the Elite 8 once and that was nine years ago? Do you realize Alford has only been to the Sweet 16 once and that was 15 years ago at Southwest Missouri State? That's not even the name of that school anymore. If you need another reason not to take their teams go back to the Ken Pomeroy's rankings and see where both of those schools sit defensively. Wisconsin has the best chance to go to the Elite 8 because the West region is hot garbage. UCLA can probably make it to the Sweet 16, but that's about as far as those teams will probably go. 

Avoid the mid-major the "experts" are saying will go far: Remember when everyone was hot on Belmont and they flamed out badly in the first round a couple of years ago? Avoid the mid-majors at all costs that the experts at ESPN and CBS pick. This year's pick is SF Austin which ironically plays UCLA and Steve Alford in the first round. Either the experts are right and SF Austin wins that game or Steve Alford finally advances past the 2nd round.  

Do pick a mid-major that hardly anyone is talking about: I don't know why but I have a thing for George Washington. For whatever reason I started following that team when I was a kid and couldn't have been more excited when they played in Sacramento in 2007. So they are my mid-major pick this year to advance to the Sweet 16. They play a banged up Memphis team to start the tournament and I'm not a big fan of Virginia and could see an upset there. Other than them though I don't see how any other mid-majors make it past the Sweet 16. Not the deepest mid-major pool in a while. 

When in doubt, pick chalk to make the Final 4: There's nothing wrong going all chalk or close to it to make the Final 4. Good teams get high seeds and those teams usually advance. Picking teams between 1 and 4 seeds is a smart strategy. My Final 4 picks are Florida, Michigan State, Michigan, and Arizona. 


  1. You forgot to add, one of the play-in winners will most likely advance to the Sweet 16 at the very least. Remember LaSalle, VCU, and South Florida?

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