Tips for your NCAA Tournament basketball bracket

The list

Five things to remember while filling out your NCAA bracket.

5 Since 1979, two No. 1 seeds have met in the final only six times, but it has happened three of the past four years.

4 Do pick a No. 1 seed to get to the Final Four, but don't pick all of them. Since seeding began in 1979, at least one No. 1 seed has made it to the Final Four with the exception of the 1980 and 2006 tournaments. Only once (last season) did all four No. 1 seeds make it.

3 Only two No. 11 seeds have ever reached the Final Four. No team seeded lower than 11 has gotten to the Final Four, and only six have gone as far as the Elite Eight. Lesson: A low seed might pull an upset and maybe two, but that's about it.

2 Don't pick all the No. 8 seeds to win their first-round games. In fact, since the introduction of the 64-team field in 1985, only 46 percent of No. 8 seeds have won their first-round games.

1 Pick with your head, not with your heart. Just because you went to Cornell doesn't mean the Big Red is going to beat Missouri. Florida State isn't going to the Final Four just because your girlfriend goes there.

Sign of the day

Fresh off calling the ACC tournament and then knocking heads with Jay Bilas on ESPN Sunday night, Dick Vitale is back home in Sarasota for a couple of days. If you missed it, Vitale had a spirited argument with Bilas on Sunday night, sticking up for the little guys like Saint Mary's, which didn't make the NCAA Tournament despite a 24-6 record and an RPI ranking of 48. After a testy back-and-forth, Vitale had a great closing line, telling Bilas, "You win. You went to Duke; I didn't."

Just because Vitale is off for a few days doesn't mean he won't be talking hoops.

"Everywhere I go, people will be asking me, 'Dickie V, who's going to win it all?' " Vitale said. "I should put a sign in my back yard saying that if I knew who would win every year, I'd be a millionaire."

Number of the day

136,800,000 That's how many television viewers watched the 2008 NCAA Tournament. And which market has delivered the highest TV ratings over the past five years? Louisville. And seeing how the Cardinals are a No. 1 seed, TV numbers in Louisville should be up again this year.

The ratings game

The overnight ratings for the CBS Selection Show were up 9 percent from a year ago and the highest-rated selection show since 2005. The show pulled in a 4.8 rating with a 10 percent share. That means 4.8 percent of homes with televisions were tuned in and 10 percent of televisions on at the time were watching. And last week's six-overtime thriller between Syracuse and UConn in the Big East tournament averaged 2.6 million viewers, making it the second-most viewed Big East game on ESPN since 1990.

Overheard

More depressing news regarding the NHL. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Fanhouse.com that there are "no immediate plans to bring the NHL to ESPN." This is not a knock against Versus, which continues to do a solid job covering the league and the coverage gets better with time. This is about exposure, and ESPN offers more than any cable sports network. Until the NHL finds a way to make a deal work with ESPN, it will struggle to find a consistent national television audience.

Announcers of the day

The New York Daily News is reporting that Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds and Jim Kaat will call the first regular-season game from the new Yankee Stadium on MLB Network, an April 16 matchup between the Yankees and Indians. Kaat retired from broadcasting after the 2006 season, but the Daily News reports he likely will work more games for the MLB Network and make studio appearances as well.

Three things that popped into my head

1 If we're ever going to get that Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods rivalry going, this is the year.

2 If I had to pick a coach to coach my team in the NCAA Tournament right now, Louisville's Rick Pitino would be my choice.

3 I'm sick of hearing how the Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic (minus A-Rod and Albert Pujols) in the World Baseball Classic ranks right up there with the U.S. Olympic hockey team beating the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics. It's not even close.

Tips for your NCAA Tournament basketball bracket 03/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 16, 2009 9:35pm]

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