I’m no shaman, no prophet, and I’ve yet to pay off anyone, but I do know exactly how to construct the perfect first round bracket.
I’m not going put my pool-winning bracket out for all to see until Thursday, but I will share some of the rules to live by when trying to navigate the extremely tricky 1st round.
5. Michigan St. will always make the Sweet 16.
Don’t be distracted by the fact that they’re a 10-seed and playing a sexier-sounding UCLA team. Tom Izzo could take the Goonies, the Little Giants, and my high school basketball team to the Sweet 16 without breaking a sweat. He’s the king. Sorry UCLA, and buh-bye (2) Florida.
4. Really Really Good School & Public = UPSET CITY.
Don’t be wooed by these schools, with their low in-state tuitions, legions of alumni, and beautiful 2hr documentaries about their glory days (negative things will never be spoken about Jalen Rose on this blog).
There are 3 schools ranked in the top 30 of the US News and World Report & in the tournament: UNC (30 = Books, 2 seed = Hoops), Michigan (29 = Books, 8 seed = Hoops), & UCLA (25 = Books, 7 seed = Hoops). None of these schools will make it out of the first weekend. The time they should have been using to practice, they were too busy hanging out at the mall, blowing all that extra money they saved because of that low in-state tuition.
3. Never Bet on Black… In The Tourney.
Around tourney time, I’m always like “Oh… maybe this is Spelman’s year to knock out a big dog”, but it never happens. The HBCU that gets the bid always ends up against the best team in the bracket (rude), and this year it won’t be any different with (16) Hampton vs. (1) Duke.
Now, don’t get this confused with teams with a lot of Black kids. That’s different. Very different.
2. If You Got Rejected From the School, pick them to lose early.
It’s called karma, people. Or revenge. I forget the difference, to be completely honest. Doesn’t matter, because it’s payback time.
Side note: If you didn’t apply to any of the schools in the field, shame shame shame on you.
1. Always Bet on Hoopers.
This is a life rule, as well as a rule of thumb for the NCAA tournament. In my mind, there are really only 2 “hoopers” in the tournament, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette. There are plenty of good players, but good players don’t always = hoopers. Duke’s Nolan Smith is a very good basketball player, but he’s not a hooper by any stretch of the imagination.
Hoopers have a certain level of swagger about them, and that swagger has existed since they were 10 or 11 (see above, NOTE THE HOLOGRAM JORDANS). Hoopers won’t necessarily get you all the way to the championship, but they’ll make a run (note ‘consolation trophy’)
Less important things to consider are 1) home field advantages, 2) senior leadership, 3) coaches with tournament experience, 4) the fact that a number (16) seed has never ousted a number (1) seed, 5) injuries to important players, and 6) the fact that number (13) Belmont WILL beat number (4) Wisconsin.
Also, Richmond’s beating Vanderbilt, Clemson’s beating West Virginia, Missouri is beating Cincinnati, and San Diego St. will come out of the Duke led WEST region.
But what do I know? I’m just the guy that won the school pool in 04 and invented trophy-posing swag in ’98.