It’s that time of year again, the most exciting month of college basketball. March Madness has finally arrived. It’s a month full of nail-biting games, buzzer beaters and Cinderella stories that all to prove who’s got the best squad in the country. Whether you’re a player getting ready to compete in the tourney, or you’re just a fan competing in an office pool, the anticipation of the NCAA tournament is as high as ever. So here are my tips to filling out a successful bracket.
TAKE RISKS, PLAY THE ODDS
We all know that during the NCAA Tournament anything is possible, but avoid choosing all of the top seeded teams. Many people assume that the top seeded teams are the ones that will make it to the Final Four, but that’s only happened once in NCAA history so don’t bank on that. If you think a lower seed has a chance of winning, back them up. Anything is bound to happen on game day. We’ve seen several Cinderella stories in the Big Dance.
COMPARE THE SCHEDULES
In the tourney, there are a lot of match-ups that we don’t see during the regular season, which makes it hard to determine what the outcome of the game might be. Comparing schedules allows you to decide what teams have a better chance of winning. When looking at the schedule, you can’t just look at the W’s and L’s – you have to specifically look at their opponents to determine the strength of that particular team. Look at the schools that the team has played that are similar to their upcoming opponent. It’s also important to focus on the last few games that the team has played rather than games from the beginning of the season. It’s more important how they’re playing now rather than back in December.
SCOUT THE TEAMS/DO A STAT CHECK
When choosing your teams it’s crucial to compare the individual and team statistics. Free-throws, rebounding, shooting percentage and turnovers are deal breakers. When a team can get to the line several times during the game, it indicates how aggressive they are. When it gets down to the nitty gritty, free-throws count the most, as clutch free-throws in the final minutes of a game can have an impact on the entire outcome. Rebounding plays a huge role in the outcome of games; teams who rebound well are usually ones who dominate inside and get second looks. The more rebounds, the more possessions a team will have and the better chance of getting the W. The fewer turnovers, the more offensive opportunities a team will have as well. The guard play directly correlates to how many turnovers a team will have. When a team has strong guard play, they tend to end up with more assists than turnovers. A team with a high shooting percentage has a higher chance of knocking down key shots, and we all know big shots wins games.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Even though NCAA games are played at neutral sites, there are a few teams that have the opportunity of playing close to home, which provides them with “near home court advantage.” It’s extremely important to take home court advantage into consideration while filling out your brackets. A team’s fan base is essential to the outcome of the game, especially for small schools competing in the tournament. When teams get the opportunity to play in front of their own fans, it generates a sense of excitement which in many cases raises the level of intensity and can ultimately result in an upset.
DON’T GO CINDERELLA NUTS
Sure we’ve witnessed several Cinderella stories in past NCAA Tournaments, but putting all your faith in the underdogs will leave you out of the game. There’s always at least one or two unheard-of teams who get an upset over a top team and make a name for themselves during the Big Dance. But if you decide to choose a Cinderella team, you should be realistic as to how long they can survive in the tournament. Be cautious about the teams that you decide to choose, because when the clock strikes midnight, it’s a wrap for them.
What are your biggest bracket tips/hints?
Other Must-Read March Madness Articles:
– NCAA Tournament Players To Watch: South Region
– March Madness: 6 First Round Upsets To Have In Your Bracket
– NCAA Tournament Players To Watch: Midwest Region
– 10 Things To Think About Heading Into March Madness
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