Friday, March 16, 2007

Girls' Guide to: March Madness

I find people's approaches to the NCAA men's basketball tournament fascinating. I don't like basketball, but I almost always fill out a bracket. Even then, I just keep track of what has already happened, I couldn't care less about the games while they're happening. I think I have a pretty solid bracket this year. Mostly because Mr says it looks pretty good. I know he disagrees with a lot of my choices, but it could turn out that way.

Unlike my one friend, who actually reads Sports Illustrated, I have very little knowledge of the teams themselves, though I have kind of a sense about whether or not they're decent. My choices are a combination of the teams' ranking, some superstition, and a vague sense that I heard somewhere that one team was good. I hope she's wrong about Ohio State, because I have them going all the way.

If you want a fun way to fill out a bracket without having a good chance of winning... um... "bragging rights" check out Mavis' plan. It's one way to go. (Don't be mad, Mav, I'm just saying... going by location of the school isn't the best possible way. You have two #2 schools in the championship, so it could happen. It's just not very likely. And? Notre Dame good for two wins? I think you spent too much time at Club 23 [not that there's anything wrong with that]).

Now that I've made my friend mad, here's my guide to filling out your NCAA bracket (albeit really too late because the first round has already finished. My bracket's looking pretty good, thanks for asking.)

1. If you have no knowledge of the teams whatsoever, go by rankings.
If you end up with all four #1 teams in the final four, you've got a good chance of getting third-place bragging rights in your office pool. They're ranked that way for a reason.

2. Plan for a couple of upsets.
There's always one #11- ranked school that beats a 6. I'm said Winthrop would beat Notre Dame (though I am an ND football fan, I'm not a fan of basketball at all, so I owe them no loyalty). However, this might have been a bad choice as #11 VCU already beat Duke.

3. Check out the teams who are playing angry.
Teams who got a lower seed than they deserve, teams who got beat recently in overtime, teams with something to prove. They play hard. Mr designated UNLV, Nevada and Tennessee as teams playing angry. They've all won so far.

4. For the 8/9, 7/10 match-ups, go with your gut.
This is where Mavis' theories come into play. Arizona/Purdue? I have no idea if Arizona is good or not. But I went to college in Indiana, so I went with the Boilermakers. Of course, this could work both ways. Since I went to a school affiliated with Notre Dame, I should hate Purdue, so I could have chosen Arizona. At this point, they have virtually the same record, so its a crapshoot. These are the games where hometown / college / I-know-someone-who-went-there pride comes into play. BYU/Xavier, I went with #9 Xavier because my brother went there and it is the only college basketball team I have ever seen play live. That worked out for me.

5. Once you get to the Sweet Sixteen and onward, the choices should be kind of obvious.
At least at first. Even if you don't pay attention to sports, you should get some matchups that just sound obvious. If you've followed hometown pride and you have Texas A&M Corpus Christi facing off against Florida. You should know that Florida will win. Sweet Sixteen is when any #6 or under should get knocked out.

Whatever you do, DON'T start doing research right before your bracket is due. If you've been watching all season, or even just watching SportsCenter all season, then it is fine to go by what the analysts say. At this point in the game, though, what they're saying might not line up with what has been said all season. Witness: Digger Phelps was talking up Winthrop, saying they were a force to be reckoned with and they would win the first round. Once they were matched up against Notre Dame (where Digger was a legendary basketball coach), he changed his tune and went with the Irish.

The final winner is really where your gut comes in. What team sounds right? There are some big names in basketball, and even if you know nothing, you should know that Belmont probably doesn't have a good shot at winning, even if you did used to live right off Belmont and Clark. Multiple brackets would up your chances of doing well in an office pool, but they also up the money coming out of your pocket. If you play it a little safe in the beginning, you'll last longer and have more fun trash talking around the water cooler.

1 comment:

Mavis said...

Correction: I did not spend ENOUGH time at Club 23. And also, I was just having a conversation with someone who is much more knowledgeable on the subject of bracket picks than I am, and he noted that when in doubt over who to pick in the first rounds, go with the underdog. More often than not, they'll come out the winner. I'm guessing that means that outside of those big name teams who are almost always ranked within the top five (re: Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and the like), the ranking system is for crap. So do with that what you will. My brackets are f-ed.