In my best Jim Nantz voice, Hello Friends.
Ahh, how nice it is to hear this again.
That theme should be everybody’s alarm clock for the next month straight.
Just listening to that takes your mind back to sitting on a couch for four straight days while Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller talk to you on a Thursday afternoon at 3 PM when you should absolutely be focused on work but there’s zero chance that’s happening.
Bracketologists from all across the country are joining leagues with their friends, family, co-workers, fraternity brothers, local clergy, etc in the game of money and bragging rights. I’m here to help you guys. Because there are specific rules you need to follow in order to survive and advance.
I feel like Randy Meeks in Scream right now on how to survive a horror movie.
Here are four simple rules for you.
As the Butler Delta Tau Delta Alumni champion of the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket challenge (not a big deal), I think I have some valuable tips to offer.
1) Don’t fill out your bracket until after the First Four
Alright, so let’s break it all down. Typically, bracketologists from all across the country will sharpie in their picks before the First Four even starts in Dayton. That’s not the move.
I get being excited for March Madness to start. I really do. Especially last year. After the NCAA Tournament was ripped away from us in 2020, everybody was so excited to have The Big Dance back, especially in Indy, a year ago. The smart move though is waiting to see who wins those First Four games.
Look at what happened last year with UCLA. The Bruins were in a PLAY-IN against Michigan State. Then Mick Cronin’s team marched all the way to the Final Four. Be patient and really give some thought on the teams that have to win in Dayton to get to the Round of 64.
2) Picking a chalk bracket is going to give you major FOMO and anxiety
Let’s just be honest with ourselves here.
Picking all number one seeds to make the Final Four may *feel* smart, but if you need the gentle reminder from our friend Jon Rothstein…
Here’s where that FOMO (“fear of missing out” for the older kids) comes in. Imagine you’re in the middle of a packed bar. The drinks are flowing, everybody’s happy, there’s about to be a major upset, your entire friend group took it, they’re about to make some money; Smiles everywhere.
You went with chalk and that upset you didn’t take just wrecked your entire bracket. Oops. That’s March. How about this stat. 2008 was the only year that all four number one seeds made it to the Final Four.
Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Memphis all made it.
3) There will ALWAYS be at least one heart attack 3-seed vs 14-seed game
Now this is one of my personal favorites.
At least one 3 vs 14 seed game is always electric. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a 14 is guaranteed to beat a 3 every year, but they’re at least going to give them a hell of a time winning the game. And I have proof.
Remember Kansas’ scare last year at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum against Eastern Washington?
Eastern Washington led that game at halftime 46-38. Thankfully for the Jayhawks, David McCormick got back just in time from COVID protocol to play in that game and win it at the end for Kansas 93-84. By the skin of his teeth, Bill Self got out of the first round.
Look even further back too.
In 2019, it was UC Irvine beating Kansas State. 2018 had Marshall topping Wichita State. In 2017, Florida State barely got past Florida Golf Coast aka Dunk City. Keep this in mind when you’re penciling in your picks.
4) NEVER assume free throws will be made
It should be written on the Ten Commandments that you must hit your free throws in March.
But alas, some of the biggest freebies in College Basketball come this month; And they’re going to be missed. Imagine you’re in that bar setting again and you bet on a favorite to cover a six point spread. If they’re up eight at the game of the game, don’t turn your back to head down to the bar.
Because you’re just getting started. You’re about to sweating out those free throws more than if you were playing golf on a sweltering summer day.
After all though, that is the beauty of the NCAA Tournament.
Enjoy the Madness everybody.