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BY ALLIE DAVISON, WHARTON HIGH
Let’s be honest, no one wants to fill out a losing bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament. You might as well just throw up a white flag and accept handing over bragging rights to your friends and family. Don’t beat yourself if you’ve fallen short of a less than impressive bracket selection in the past. I definitely didn’t have Butler going not once, but twice to the National Championship game two years running.
Want to impress your competition? Here are three tips that can help you set your sights on being King or Queen of the March Madness bracket celebration:
Don’t get distracted by #1: Sure, a shiny, special No. 1 seed gives you plenty of confidence in their ability to reach the Final Four. I mean, they had to have earned that seed somehow, right? It’s tempting to just slot each top dog right through the competition, all the way to New Orleans. Before you make that call, make sure you look at their losses and the regions they are in. North Carolina lost to No. 3 seed Florida State in January and just recently in the ACC Championship game. Michigan State could face a streaking Missouri team in the Elite Eight who will most likely start three talented seniors. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the top seeds are really the top teams. I have No.1 Kentucky making it all the way to the Final Four, but that’s because they have arguably the most depth on the bench, not because they are No. 1.
Don’t overlook conference tournament results: According to Bleacher Report, only four times in the past 14 years has the overall National Champion not won their conference tournament (Maryland ’02, Syracuse ’03 and UNC ’05 and ’09). Michigan State is the only No 1 seed this year to win their conference in Big 10. Some may argue powerhouse programs such as Duke, Kansas and Kentucky focus solely on the main prize. What they forget is that while those teams are setting their sights ahead, teams such as Florida State and Missouri are gaining huge momentum heading into March. If I’ve learned one thing by filling in brackets over the years, it’s how teams thrive off winning. Until the National Championship game, winning your conference is the next biggest thing.
Do stand up for your team: With 64 teams, most of you are bound to have some kind of team allegiance. Whether that allegiance comes from love of one team or hatred for another, you can’t help following your heart. That strategy is usually a strong one for winning. Trying to research teams that have historical pasts in the tournament or picking teams that the experts project will be victorious defeats the whole purpose: the fun of the selection. Competition runs deep. I get it. Don’t let that overshadow the joy March Madness can bring. So you have a special place for Vanderbilt? Ride them out into the region finals. UNLV fan? They did beat UNC earlier this year so don’t let their mid-major name keep you from picking them. Take a risk. You never know what team might surprise you.