The Secrets to Picking the Best Bracket (Know Nothing About College Basketball)

By Jennifer Lvovich

March Madness. It’s a time of year that sort of sneaks up on everyone, probably due to the fact that the college basketball regular season is hard to follow, and to be honest, it’s not that exciting unless two division rivals are going head to head. Any restaurant you go to during this time of year will inevitably have the games all over their giant screens. Every other commercial that comes on has some sort of reference to March Madness — each insurance and car company with their own basketball-themed commercials. Part of the appeal of March Madness is the great potential for upsets and “Cinderella stories,” which involves a lower seeded team making an unexpected run to the sweet sixteen or even farther. When it comes to brackets, however, these can wreak havoc on a well thought-out bracket, therefore making the random-picked bracket a much more successful one in some cases.

For example, this year, at the last second, I was convinced by  a few college basketball-obsessed guy friends to join their bracket pool just to see how I would match up against them. In an effort to humor them, I made a bracket online on ESPN.com, probably taking a tenth of the time they took to make theirs, and also not using any knowledge or strategy for my picks, since I have only the seeds of the teams to go by for my predictions. I had to pick Kansas as the winner and even predict the score of the final game for my bracket to be submitted which had me thinking “wow I am gonna be so wrong about all of this and look ridiculous.”

Just like every year, the tournament finally started, and low and behold, everyone is getting their picks right except for me. I was not surprised, but I was also kind of disappointed since I had heard from people in the past that their grandma or aunt would always end up winning the pool because of their randomly picked and somehow miraculously right predictions. An article featured in CBS sports talks about the difference between hardcore fans’ brackets and silly girly brackets. The next day something crazy happened though.

Gonzaga, a number one seed lost in the second round to Wichita State, a number nine seed not expected to advance past the second round. Wisconsin, a 5 seed also expected to go far, lost in the first round to Ole Miss, also upsetting quite a few well-planned brackets. One especially college-basketball-obsessed friend of mine had picked Gonzaga to win the entire tournament. Needless to say his chances of winning the pool were destroyed. As the tournament progressed, I rose through the leader board, eventually ending up at number one out of a group of fifteen guys, just as the theory of random uneducated picking had said.

While I am still in some disbelief that I am doing this well, it has made watching the games and keeping up with the bracket leader board a lot more enjoyable and also lets me into the minds of people who really do go mad for March Madness. This is one of the most entertaining sporting events to follow because of the possibilities of upsets and intense battles for a chance to go to the Final Four. Even if my bracket doesn’t win, I will be happy that I beat out some of the boys and I will definitely be making a bracket every year after this.

 

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