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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


What to keep in mind when making your brackets

Tips for Picking the Perfect Bracket


1. When in doubt, go with the hot team

Last year serves as a perfect example, as we saw Kemba
Walker lead his streaking UConn team to a national championship. The Huskies
entered the Big East Tournament as the ninth-best team in their own conference,
and then rattled off 11 straight victories to win both the Big East and the
NCAA Tournaments. People don’t remember that two of the other Final Four teams
(Kentucky and Butler) won their conference tournaments as well, and the fourth (VCU)
lost in their conference championship game. Of this year’s conference
tournament winners, I like Colorado
to advance to the second weekend, VCU
to have another Cinderella-style run to at least the Sweet Sixteen, Florida State to reach the Elite Eight
and Louisville to make the Final



2. Follow your upset-hunches for Thursday and Friday…to an

In three of the past seven Tournaments we’ve seen a 14-seed
upset a 3-seed in the “first” round games (I don’t care about the stupid
play-ins, we all know the real first round starts on Thursday). Don’t be too
quick to dismiss No. 14 South Dakota
and their stud guard Nate Wolters (21.3 ppg) as they do battle with a
slumping Baylor squad that’s lost
five of 11. The 5-12 pairings always seem to provide one or more upsets, so
take a long, hard look at VCU, Long
Beach State
and Harvard. It’s
important not to go overboard with the upsets, however. Don’t get too crazy and select a 16-seed over a
1-seed, because that has never happened in the history of the Tournament (and
likely never will). And as a side note, don’t buy into the “No. 15 Detroit over No. 2 Kansas” hype, as it isn’t going to happen. Jayhawks’ Player of the
Year candidate Thomas Robinson will have a field day, and KU will win by double


3. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you

You’re trying to pick the perfect bracket, not boost your
home team’s confidence. Wisconsin
has a pretty easy draw up until the Sweet Sixteen, but the Badgers are just too
inconsistent on the offensive end to make a deep run into the tourney. It’s
very possible that they’ll lose to Montana
in the first round, or to the winner of red-hot Vanderbilt and Harvard (an
Ivy League school bounced Wisconsin two years ago, remember). If they squeak
past their first two matchups, they almost certainly run into No. 1 Syracuse, a team who can play
Badger-basketball even better than the Badgers. The Orange ranks 23rd
in the nation in scoring defense (22 spots behind the top-ranked Badgers), but
brings a much more balanced and reliable offense to the table. While I’ll be
hoping and rooting like everyone else, I just don’t see any way the Badgers can
make the Elite Eight.


4. Chalk, chalk, chalk and more chalk

People love to brag about picking first-round upsets (I
still tell anyone who will listen about my No. 13 Bradley pick in 2006), but
bracket pools (if they were legal) are won in the later rounds. If you get all
of the Final Four teams correct, no one will care that you missed a 9-8 first
round upset, or that you didn’t get that one Sweet Sixteen Cinderella team. The
first thing you need to do is sift through the 1-seeds, deciding who has a deep
run in them and who is looking at an early exit. A 1-seed has reached the Final
Four in all but two of the Tournaments since 1985 (when the NCAA adopted a
64-team bracket), so you can be pretty sure that one or two more will make it
to New Orleans this year. After you decide which No. 1’s you like (Kentucky and Syracuse for me), it’s time to examine some of the other higher
seeds. Only five teams seeded sixth or worse have reached the Final Four over
the past 19 years, so there is a slim chance that will happen again.


5. Experience and head coaching rules all

Just like the rest of John Calipari’s teams, Kentucky looks
to buck this trend. Outside of Coach Cal, it’s no coincidence that Tom Izzo,
Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim coached the teams that were awarded the 1-seeds.
Each coach already has at least one NCAA Championship under his belt, so don’t
be surprised if they have their teams ready to play. Izzo, in particular, has a
lot of tourney success. In each of the three seasons that his Michigan State teams have earned a
1-seed he’s led them to at least the Final Four (winning the championship with
Mateen Cleaves running the point in 2000). Other strong, veteran head coaches
to look out for: Duke‘s Mike
Krzyzewski, Connecticut‘s Jim Calhoun,
Florida‘s Billy Donovan and Kansas State‘s Frank Martin.


6. Get ALL of your schoolwork done by Wednesday night

The first weekend of the March Madness Tournament is devoted
entirely to basketball, so make sure that your only obligation is watching the
games. Once the first game tips off on Thursday morning (at 11:15 AM Central),
the brackets will lock and all the pre-Tournament anxiety should wash right out
of you. At that point it’s time for you to grab a comfortable spot on the
couch, email your professors to let them know that you’re sick, and then enjoy
roughly 12 straight hours of college basketball (then lather, rinse, repeat for
another marathon of college hoops on Friday).

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