10 Tips for picking your bracket

March Madness: How to spend your money wisely and take home the big prize

Contributing Writer
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Sunday is like Christmas for many college basketball fans. The NCAA men’s basketball bracket will be release, and the masses will wage billions of dollars in polls around the country, but what makes a good bracket? Picking the right teams, and how do you pick the right team?

There are three factors that determine the quality of a team.

A team’s seed reflects their body of work over a season.

A team’s performance in their specific conference tournament can indicate a hot streak or a team that may be headed downhill.

Last but certainly not least, the star power on a team, like UConn’s Kemba Walker, can lead a team through the tournament.

Many of you have your own strategies. You may go with your gut, do your research from the day the season begins, go with your heart and pick your favorite team, or you may go with the sleeper. Regardless of your strategy, here are my tips for a winning bracket.

1. Star players and coaches just win. – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kansas’ Bill Self have rings. They also have Draymond Green and Thomas Robinson, respectively, who can carry their teams deep into March.

2. Diaper dandies are beatable. – For those of you who don’t know, a “diaper dandy” (a term coined by the famous Dick Vitale) is a sensational freshman. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is special, but so were Derrick Rose and John Wall, both of whom failed to lead coach John Calipari to a championship.

3. Senior-laden teams beat talent. – Syracuse, Missouri, Marquette, and Murray State are balanced and won’t buckle if one guy gets in foul trouble.

4. A three-seed difference is a safe win for the higher seed. – When seed numbers differ by more than three, the higher seed will win more than 2/3 of the time. Since 2000, the only exceptions to this rule are the 5-12 and 6-11 matchups in the second round and the 2-10 matchup in the third round.

5. The top three seeds are locks in the second round. – Number one seed has ever lost in the round of 64. Since 2000, only four two or three seeds have been sent home winless and fives have beaten fours in the third round 58 percent of the time.

6. The second weekend eats top seeds. – Surprisingly, number one seeds who won their conference tournament are just as likely to make the Final Four as those who didn’t. Since 2000, top seeds have lost as many games to two, three or 11 seeds in the Elite Eight as they have to all other seeds in the first four full rounds combined. They’re 13-15 in those close matchups.

7. Assume that 3 majors will make the Final Four. – The ACC has provided the most major conference at-large Final Four teams in recent memory, and SEC tournament champions have been most successful in surviving the second weekend.

8. Assume that 1 mid-major will make the Final Four. – Mid-majors consist of all but the six major conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, SEC). Murray State is the highest ranked mid-major. Creighton leads the nation in shooting percentage. Wichita State clearly has the best mascot.

9. Call your mom. – “Mike & Mike” fans can recall that Liam’s Mum picked the 2011 final correctly at 25,000 to 1 odds. She’s from England, doesn’t follow basketball, and chose the teams based on their canine mascots.

10. Pray. – You are going to be wrong a lot. Just hope that it happens less than everyone else in your pool.