Tony Z's 5 tips to a picking a NCAA Tournament Bracket - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Tony Z's 5 tips to a picking a NCAA Tournament Bracket

(Source: AP) (Source: AP)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

The Round of 64 for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament starts on March 16. Here are five tips to help you have the best bracket in your pool.

1. Ride the Big Dogs

Everybody wants to see Cinderella shine at the Big Dance, but it's the Big Dogs who are almost always celebrating at the end. Even a year ago, when Villanova won its first NCAA title in 31 years, the Wildcats headed to the Dance fresh off a 35-win season as a #2 seed. Remember, a 16-seed still has never beaten a 1-seed, and the lowest seed to win the tournament? 8th-seeded Villanova, back in 1985.

2.  Underdog is here!

Despite my first tip, there will be upsets. The key is finding which teams were seeded poorly, are coming in hot, and have tournament experience. For example, Minnesota was somehow given a 5 seed, three spots higher than Wisconsin, who beat them twice. The
Golden Gophers will open against 12th-seeded Middle Tennessee State, a team with tourney experience and 30 wins. I like the Blue Raiders to pull off the upset.

3.  Limit your mistakes.

Nobody's expecting perfection. The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Seriously. Just get Cinderella out of the Dance before the clock strikes midnight. In other words, ride 'em to the Sweet 16, but that's about it. While there's usually a surprise visitor to the Final Four (only once have the four #1 seeds all made it), it'll still be a solid contender. Even Butler, who crashed the party by making charming back-to-back runs to the title game in 2010 and 2011, was a 5 seed and an 8 seed, respectively.

4.  Make it Rain...3's.

This is true especially for the smaller schools, who can level the field (court) against the traditional powerhouses by getting hot from outside. We've seen it time and time again. Some guard from some longshot heats up early and leads his team to the Sweet 16. The problem is, that guard usually cools off at some point, and the incredible ride is over. But the "3" is key, for schools big and small. In the past 30 years only six teams have shot less than 35% from beyond the arc and won the title.


5. Have fun.

I helped my wife Denise fill out her bracket on Wednesday and she had her own 'creative' way of picking teams: states she's lived in, schools she'd once considered, anything with an Ohio connection (spoiler alert: she LOVES Kent State in the tourney)...not many of her choices were based on basketball savvy, but who cares? My mother once won her office bracket by picking the schools with the coolest names. So what do we know!?

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