College / Mar 17, 2009 / 3:03 pm

5 things to think about when filling out your NCAA bracket

Matty D's BFF

Matty D's BFF

Whether you’ve got just one empty Big Dance bracket staring back at you or five, here’s a few pointers before you put that crucial $20 on the line:

1. Be wary of the “hot” teams
I know it’s tempting to take teams like Mississippi State and USC after they both just ran through their conference tournaments, but be careful. Look at the teams that have pulled off similar runs in the past few years: ‘Cuse in ’06 and Georgia in ’08. Both were back at school before they even knew the tournament began. Luckily for them, their conference championships were still fresh in the minds of the girls on campus and they probably forgot about their early exits from the Tourney pretty easily.

2. Stick to your gut
It doesn’t matter how much research you do or how many hours you put into breaking everything down; make your picks and roll with them. Don’t second-guess yourself. You think Susie from accounts payable is doing anything more than “Ooh, I’m gonna take USC because I loooove Los Angeles“? Nope.

3. Remember 1985
That was the only year in which three teams from the same conference made it to the Final Four. Oddly enough, that conference was the Big East, which has a legitimate shot to replicate the feat this year. If Syracuse can pull off upsets over Oklahoma and UNC, we could see an unprecedented four Big East teams in the Final Four (‘Cuse, Louisville, Pitt, UConn). For the record, if this happens, I want Mike Slive and the rest of the Awkward Handshake Crew to go to Providence and kiss Keno Davis‘ feet.

4. Stew Morrill, head coach of Utah State
Do you really wanna bet against a man who shows blatant disregard for the 21st century by wearing the glasses that he does? Not me. I’m scared to even pick against them in my pool. I can’t imagine the sheer terror that Marquette must be feeling right now. Good Luck Golden Eagles. You’re gonna need it.

5. Duke = Doom
Since their last National Championship in 2001, the Dukies have been to the Final Four just once (2004). Other than that, they haven’t advanced past the Sweet Sixteen one time! That’s pretty incredible for a team that has received four 1-seeds, a 2-seed (not including this year), and a 3-seed. I’m surprised people don’t talk about this more. Actually, no I’m not. The Duke love-fest makes me sick and personally, I’m counting down the days until A.J. Abrams sends the Cameron Crazies packing. Take it to the bank!

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  • RED

    National CHAMPS DUUUUUUKE!!!

  • http://yahoo.com slygerogg

    Duke will not be able to hang with texas if/when they play
    assuming duke wins in the first round of course

  • Andrej94


  • SayItAintSo

    A sixth thing to think about…

    6. John Brockman is Pual Bunyan reincarnated.

    While heading down I-5 to the Rose Garden, Brockman will likely stop off in the National Park out on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in order to cut down an entire @#$%ing forest in under a minute. After which, he’ll hop back on his giant blue ox, head down to P-town and administer the beat down on Jarvis Varnado.

  • slice850

    watch out for Florida State kids

  • Kevin

    A.J. Abrams might be the most overrated player in the country…my opinion. If he’s got an athletic and/or tall player guarding him, he’s done b/c he can’t create his own shot. Only screens. Chris Lofton had a nasty J last year too…look back and see how good that turned out for him come tourney time.

  • Sanpitch

    Thanks for the Utah State shout-out. That’s my alma mater. I like the crazy Stew reference. Dude is always ready for a flood, which would scare the hell outta me if I am Marquette.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @SayItAintSo — Exactly. Brockman eats raw fish from Pike Place Market; sometimes it’s still alive when he gets his hands on it. At the same time, though, Varnado is a problem. He’ll get about 3-4 of Brockman’s shots, but I don’t see him keeping Brockman off the boards.

  • SayItAintSo

    Agreed…I just keep thinking about the game where the Lopez twins registered like 8 blocks on Brockman but he still dropped like 25 and 13.

    You block his shot, he grabs it and goes RIGHT the hell back at you. I love that kid…nicest guy ever too.

    Oh and you know there is no way in hell that Varnado keeps him off the boards. I mean, he is a solid kid and clearly an elite shot blocker but he’ll either get in foul trouble or get tired in the long run.

    If they are making those threes like they were in the SEC tourney though, we’re in BIG trouble.

  • duke4005

    I am from Texas and I know UT will not come within 15 points of beating Duke. They don’t have the players or the talent. Stick Scheyer or Henderson an Abrams and UT won’t break 50 points. See you in the Sweet 16 (although that is probably as far as Duke will get).

  • duke4005

    And I agree w/above…watch out for Florida St. They have a HUGe frontline and good senior leadership in the backcourt. Makes them very dangerous from the 5 spot.

  • Luigi


    DJ Rivera will murder them

  • E$

    No thinking, just guessing

  • Jason

    WOW another guy at Dime that hates Duke. Fags for real. And btw Mattty D (gay ass name) Duke OWNS Texas and ESPECIALLY Rick Barnes!!!! Remember he coached in the ACC??? I know you probably don’t since you know shit about ball but figured i’d help you out. Also remember when Texas was #1 in the nation 2 years ago? Duke beat them by like 40 in MSG. Good job Matty D…seriously gay name! LMAO

  • SayItAintSo

    Jason…you have problems.


    Spit your hate somewhere else man…or take a prozac so we can keep the ambiance on this site as chill as it usually is…

  • Raj S

    That isn’t hate sunshine; it’s facts. Hate is what people do to Kevin Garnett, a former champion, DPOY, and MVP. Duke HASN’T done anything in the tourney since ’01. That’s the TRUTH. It isn’t like Duke got past the Sweet 16 and Matty D is saying they got lucky; they actually haven’t done dick in the tourney since that time.
    It’s cool to be a Duke fan (sometimes), but it’s not cool to be a homophobic moron.

  • Max

    >>I’m surprised people don’t talk about this more.<<

    Does the writer of this piece live under a rock? Duke is so hated and overexposed by the national media and all the blogs that their tournament underachievement is constantly brought up. If anyone (other than one or two pundits) is picking them to get past the second round, it’s news to me.

  • Jeremy J

    How has Pitt not even been mentioned on here?

    The most important thing to remember is that Dejuan Blair is the most serious player in college basketball right now.

    If you take acid and watch Paul Millsap play you see Dejuan Blair. That’s how good the man is.

  • H.I.S. Irieness

    Hey yo JAson,

    First off that guy you called gay, Matty D, would break your lil bitch ass ankles with his crossover. There’s a reason why he’s at dime, and you’re smokin dimes of schwag, tryin to figure out why all the dimes in this world don’t show you no love, cuz you’re a fucking KOOK.

    Figures the fan of the school, that has more rumors of fags would call Matty D a fag. Brian Davis…FAG, Thomas Hill…FAG, Christian Laetner…FAG, Every Duke fan known to man…FAG, There’s a reason all my lady friends from duke used to bang UNC/NC State guys

    You should start a blog up titled… “My life as a Dukie Fluffer” and talk about all the times you wish Coach K would smack his balls on your forehead

  • http://www.edthesportsfan.com SoulOnIce

    I’m with ya, Jeremy J. Dejuan Blair is a monster, and is the best big man in the Big East this year. I know people say Thabeet, but Blair murked him when they played, and that was all the evidence I need.

    Sam Young and Fields are the keys to them takin’ it, though. Fields shoots like crap on the road, but he’s still better than a majority of the point guards in this thing. If Sam Young plays like we know he can, Pitt may finally get over the hump.

  • husker

    the problem i have with texas is that nebraska beat them. yes, the nebraska that got bounced by new mexico in the nit last night. my general rule is that anyone who lost to nu is not going to go far. with that logic, knock mizzou out too.

  • Matty D

    @ Max

    Duke is hated by the national media!?!? In what country??? Bangladesh? That is a completely insane statement. You can’t honestly believe that. Apologize now!

    @ Jeremy J

    You’re right. DeJuan Blair is a monster, but a monster that has a weakness. Pitt has lost four games this year…Blair fouled out of three of those games and in the other he had 4 fouls (vs. Louisville). Although they are perennial choke artists just like Duke, if he can stay out of foul trouble, this may be the year that they actually make it to the Final 4.

  • http://www.edthesportsfan.com SoulOnIce

    @ Matty D

    I think it has to be something in the water, because the best Big East big-men are all foul-prone. Blair, Thabeet, Monroe (my damn Hoyas let me down), and Harangody (even though he was the best, in terms of staying out of foul trouble).

    The main reason why I think Texas won’t beat Duke, is because Big Dexter Pittman is gonna get in foul trouble. Duke has noone that can match up with him, but we’ll see some “questionable” calls against him, and before you know it, he’ll be on the bench. Damion James is gonna have to be an absolute animal in that game too, because they can’t expect AJ Abrams to do it all by himself. Hell, what am I talking about?? They have to beat Minnesota first.

  • Max

    Matty D: Did you see one analyst on ESPN pick Duke to go to the Final Four? Only one picks them to go the Elite Eight, even. Sorry, I’m not sure where this “lovefest” BS comes from, and I’m not even a fan of the team…I just think the love/hate BS stirred up by yellow journalists like you guys about these teams rots the brain.

    Only Vitale goes overboard when he talks about Duke, and he’s just as bad when he talks about Carolina or UConn or Pitt.

  • duke4005

    Raj S—Duke went to the Final Four in 2004. UCONN beat them.

    SoulOnIce– Already the conspiracy starts of Duke getting all the calls. If Texas even wins their first round matchup, which is still in question, and they happen to beat Duke, then will you be on here Monday griping about the officials screwing Texas? Didn’t think so. The two reasons everyone hates Duke, and these may step on toes, is because of Dick Vitale and his man-love for K, and the fact that when they won, they were led by white players. They are perceived as “too white” to be good, and it hurts them in the general public’s eyes. Fact.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Max — I’m thinking the “lovefest” is about the fact that Duke is on national TV all the time, even when they play not-so-popular teams. Vitale going overboard on Duke is one thing, but consider how often he gets the chance to go overboard, since it seems all of their games get nationally televised. Or maybe Matty was referring to Coach K getting a summer-long stroking from the media during the Olympics.

  • Max

    @AB: If you’re talking about overexposure, that’s very different from a lovefest. I know a few media members who positively can’t stand Coach K because he maintains an arm’s length relationship with the press generally. Duke is like the Yankees or Red Sox or Cowboys — overexposed because they generate polar reactions (including comments on threads like this), not because they’re loved so much that everyone picks them to win all the time.

    I find this subject interesting because I have a relative who just spent a couple of years in Kentucky, and just moved to the West Coast, and who isn’t a big sports fan. However, he already said “I want anyone but Duke to win in the NCAA”. I asked him why, since he’s not even a basketball fan, and he said “I don’t know why? I just hate them and their smug coach”

    Coach K getting a stroking because of the Olympics, well, didn’t even this site credit him for the job he did with that team? If you’re successful, you get stroked, if you fail, you get hammered. I don’t see people stroking K for the underachievement of the Dukies the last eight years.