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(RNN) – The NCAA men's basketball tournament starts later this week, and if you haven't yet filled out your bracket, fear not. I have you covered.
Wait. Let me rephrase that: Have fear. I have no idea what I'm doing.
I am a sports fan, but I do not like basketball. I don't follow it until the bracket gets announced. I have a vague idea of who is good and who isn't throughout the year. I would say this puts me about middle of the road in filling out a bracket.
I have no system. I play hunches, guesses and fill out the whole thing in about 2 minutes. Not surprisingly, I've always been bad at it. So this year I'm changing it up.
I filled out five brackets, each using a different method, and filled in one picking only the highest seeded team for a baseline comparison. I chose the final score for all the championship games based on gut feeling. One score was even entered by accident, and I decided to leave it (it didn't change the winner).
The brackets were filled out on ESPN.com, and their progress will be updated each week as the tournament progresses.
Simple and easy. I picked the higher seed (the team with the number closest to 1 next to it) and moved on. There are no upsets, and that means, historically, this is a terrible way to go. All four No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four only once, so this flies in the face of history. This is being used as a baseline to see which method is best and nothing more.
Final Four: Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga, Indiana
Championship game: Louisville 68, Kansas 61
2. My Actual Picks
Now we get to the fun stuff, and by that I mean upsets that are sure to never happen. Specifically, I chose three 9s, two 12s, an 11 and two 10s in the first round, and one of those – No. 12 Oregon – to make the Sweet 16. It's closer to chalk in the later rounds than I would like, but that could be a good thing. The only No. 1 seed not making the Final Four is Kansas, who I have losing to Georgetown in the Elite Eight.
The rest of the bracket is unremarkable, and that concerns me. In past years, I've always had one region that is crumbling remains of its former glory after the first weekend. There doesn't appear to be a region that is likely to happen to this time, but the tournament is so unpredictable there's really no way to know for sure.
Final Four: Louisville, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Indiana
Championship game: Indiana 73, Louisville 64
You always hear around tournament time that somebody chose one team over another because of their mascot. I decided to fill out an entire bracket this way, and it was an unmitigated disaster. How does a Rebel fare against a Badger? What about against a Jaguar? Does a Wolfpack beat a Grizzly?
I went to great lengths to break down the fight that would happen between a Jaguar and a Panther. It's a pretty even fight, but I went with the Jaguar. That Jaguar is 16th-seeded Southern University making it to the Elite Eight, which would not only make it the first 16 seed to advance that far, but the first 16 seed to win a non-play-in game – period.
The Jaguars topple the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Pittsburgh Panthers and use their stalk hunting skills to ambush the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels had used their single-shot rifles to take down a Badger and a Wildcat before this, but the Jaguar is too efficient a hunter to be felled with such antiquated technology.
Guys with guns clearly have the advantage. Spartans – fearless as they may be – are in an unwinnable battle with Cowboys. Top-seeded Louisville was crippled by its feckless Cardinal, and though Montana's Grizzly had a good run, a Wolfpack was just too much for it to handle. A single wolf it would have beaten, but a group of wolves is too much.
There was some debate in the office over Demons and Blue Devils, but I decided that mystical powers were not a part of basketball, so Duke couldn't fend off Cincinnati's Bearcat, and without the use of the supernatural, a Demon can't kill a Gator. I also thought Iona's Gael might not know that part of a Buckeye can be harmful if eaten, since the Buckeye is not native to Ireland.
This bracket is a hot mess – and took the longest to fill out of all of them – but thankfully no one is a match for the weather, and that gives this bracket a fighting chance.
Final Four: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Miami
Championship game: Miami 70, Iowa State 69
4. Field Goal Defense
We can thank Sports Illustrated for this one. An article appeared in the magazine last week that said teams with strong two-point field goal defense have an advantage. Kentucky led the nation in it last year and won the tournament. So, I took it to the extreme and picked winners based solely on that.
Southern University benefits from this greatly, making it all the way to the championship game. Two 16 seeds make the Final Four as North Carolina A&T survives not only its play-in game, but downs top-seeded Louisville in the first round. This illustrates the fallacy of this as a reliable method. Teams that play in weaker conferences and against weaker opponents can skew their stats by not facing tough competition.
Akron and Bucknell also shake things up, earning trips to the Sweet 16. Bucknell even goes so far as to make the Elite Eight.
Final Four: North Carolina A&T, Kansas, Southern University, Syracuse
Championship game: Kansas 68, Southern University 66
5. Coin Flip
This was very straight forward and easy. I went through each game of the bracket and let fate decide. I flipped a penny, and if it landed heads up, the higher seed won. If it was tails up, the lower seed won. Abraham Lincoln likes an underdog, but he loves Duke.
A string of heads in the West bracket kept it from getting too crazy, though the No. 13 seed, which isn't yet known because it is involved in a play-in game, took down No. 4 Kansas State and No 6. Arizona made the Final Four.
It was a different story in the East, where the 11 through 15 seeds all advanced thanks to what I'm assuming is extra copper in Lincoln's head (must be the beard). Montana and Pacific both made the Elite Eight and Montana took its string of good luck all the way to the championship.
No. 1 seeds Louisville and Kansas both fell in the first round. Louisville is from Lincoln's home state of Kentucky, but Honest Abe doesn't play favorites, though he was nice enough to let Illinois taste victory, even if it was just once.
Final Four: Duke, Minnesota, Arizona, Montana
Championship game: Duke 72, Montana 62
This is the March Madness equivalent of the Ask the Audience lifeline from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
ESPN.com has a feature called Who Picked Whom, which shows the percentage of people who have filled out a bracket that chose each team to win in each round. They did the math, and I just picked the winners based on the numbers.
The bracket is very similar to the control Chalk bracket with no upsets in the early rounds, but it deviates toward the end, most notably with Ohio State being a more popular selection than Gonzaga. It's the West region that gives this bracket all of its character with Wisconsin cracking the Sweet 16.
Final Four: Louisville, Kansas, Ohio State, Indiana
Championship game: Louisville 75, Indiana 70
Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tourney.More >>
Don't like basketball? Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tournament.More >>