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The keys to a winning March Madness bracket

Mike Balducci 3/17/10 9:14 AM

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Over the years, I’ve put together a solid resume in the world of March Madness pools. I owe it all to four key points:

1. Pick Xavier.

Or really, pick a team and commit to them for the rest of your natural life. For going on five years now, I’ve picked Xavier to reach at least the Sweet Sixteen. It hasn’t always paid off, but in the off chance that they do succeed, I look like a genius.

Plus, it’s much more interesting to root for a scrappy “who are they?” team than the No. 2 seed until the Elite Eight.

Looking for a Xavier? I recommend the Richmond Spiders, the Houston Cougars (out of Conference USA pride) or the Butler Bulldogs.

2. Stick with the big dogs.

Except for 1980 and 2006, at least one No. 1 seed has made the Final Four in every year of the tournament’s existence. Don’t be afraid to go with the No. 1 seeds (hint: they’re top ranked for a reason).

Sure, a Final Four of Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky and Duke is boring and you’ll be ridiculed for your lack of innovation, but you’ll be able to heckle the kid who picked a Murray State – Temple title game.

3. Don’t feel obligated to pick upsets.

If you’ve ever gone back over your bracket and realized you’ve picked too many safe bets, re-read point #3. There is nothing in the law of March Madness that states a certain amount of upsets must occur.

If your bracket looks safe and boring, let it be. There’s no need to flip a coin to see which No. 9 seed you’re going to choose to win.

4. Know nothing about college basketball.

Be honest: who hasn’t lost a March Madness pool to someone whose basketball knowledge doesn’t go past Michael Jordan and some guy named Bird?

It’s a crapshoot. No matter how well you know basketball, how closely you follow college ball, or how many teams’ RPI’s you’ve memorized, March Madness is wild, unpredictable and is almost always predicted most accurately by those who know the least.

For my Final Four prediction, I’ll take Syracuse, Kansas, West Virginia and Duke, with the Mountaineers upsetting the Orange to take the title. This prediction made possible through the use of my four key points. Let’s hope they prove me right.


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