Spring is in the air, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming and March Madness is underway! Conference tournaments just ended and the 2016 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament seeding was released this afternoon, so everyone is scrambling to make their perfect bracket to win some cash. Last year, billionaire Warren Buffett offered a billion dollar grand prize to anyone that filled out a perfect bracket (odds of this happening are 1 in 9.2 quintillion, according to USAToday). This year, there’s no billion dollar grand prize. However, with an estimated $9 million dollars to be gambled by 40 million people filling 70 million brackets, according to ESPN, it’s safe to say there’s a lot on the line for some.
This year might be one of the toughest years to predict because power houses like Kentucky and Duke got lower seeds than normal and other power houses like Louisville and UCLA aren’t even in the tourney. The teams that did get the number one seeds combined for twenty three losses, the most ever for one seeds, but don’t fret college hoop fans. We here at The Siskiyou are offering five tips and tricks to making the perfect bracket:
- Stay away from Kentucky and Duke (and all 1 seeds): Duke and Kentucky combine for 13 National championships, however this is not their year. They both received four seeds and treacherous roads to the Final Four. The next favorites would be the 1 seeds; Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia or Oregon. I know, I know – Oregon is a very appealing pick (Sco Ducks), but they got the last 1 seed and have to get through National Player of the Year candidate, Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners. As I stated earlier, this could be the worst bunch of 1 seeds ever, so it’s probably safer to bet elsewhere.
- Pick a 12 seed to upset a 5 seed in the first round: Throughout the history of the NCAA tourney, forty-four 12 seeds have defeated 5 seeds. Let me put this in perspective for you; there’s only been three years that a 12 seed hasn’t beaten a 5 seed (1988, 2000 & 2007) and in 2013 alone three of the four 12 seeds defeated the 5 seeds, according to CBSSports. Now, it’s just up to you to choose which 12 seeds are going to win. My pick would be Yale upsetting Baylor. Yale is in the Ivy league, the same conference as Harvard, who have upset teams in 2 of the last 4 tourneys.
- Don’t get upset pick happy: Yes, the 1 seeds are weaker this year, however there has never been a 16 seed defeat a 1 seed. 2 seeds are 115-7 against 15 seeds, with three losses coming from 2012-2013 (Norfolk State, Leigh and Florida Gulf Coast). 3 seeds are always common upset picks, however they are just as uncommon with a 102-18 record against 14 seeds, according to Washington Post. So I’d not even think about an upset until the 4 seed vs. 13 seed, however I would stay away from that as well. It is also smart to advance all 1 seeds to the sweet sixteen (Oregon might have some trouble with St. Johns). After that, you’re on your own for upsets.
- Do your research and listen to history: Now, I know I have been preaching the opposite: stay away from the powerhouses. However, outside the 1 seeds, Kentucky and Duke, there are some smart plays to make it to the Elite Eight. The only way to find out these smart plays is by researching and listening to history. I’ll get you started. Michigan State has been to 9 Elite Eights and 7 Final Fours in the last twenty years, with Tom Izzo as the coach. Though perceivably obvious, another intelligent thing to think about is talent. For instance, Oklahoma doesn’t have the historical resume like Michigan State, however they have senior, Buddy Hield, but one would assume he will carry that team to at least the Elite Eight.
- Cross, your fingers, pray & get very lucky: At the end of the day, the bracket comes down to luck and it’s damn near impossible to get a perfect bracket. Why else would Warren Buffett offer up a billion dollars for one. Shoot, a person might have a better shot at a perfect bracket if they let a five year old choose the winners based off their favorite mascot. Now, these tips might not help you get that perfect bracket, but it could help you win some quick cash in that pool with your buddies. Good luck college hoop fans!