Let’s just be honest here, you have no idea what you’re doing. Why would you? It’s goddamn college basketball. It’s a crapshoot at the best of times, and the 64-team tournament over a span of a couple weeks magnifies that reality even further. How on earth could you know who’s legitimately better between between Xavier and Villanova right now? Did you even know those two schools existed? Can you even name a player on one of those teams without looking? Don’t get too caught up in trying to be perfect and expect the unexpected. It’s impossible to pick a perfect bracket, which is why Warren Buffet was offering a $1 billion prize for anybody who could pull it off. That being said, there are still ways you can fudge the system and impress your friends and coworkers into thinking that you’re either some kind of prophet or basement-dwelling gremlin who watches hours upon hours of students playing sports. Anyways, here are some sorta kinda legitimate tips on how to put together a bracket after you’ve accepted the fact you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
Don’t pick Gonzaga
They’ve never won the tournament, and they probably never will. Whenever you pick the team from the school in Spokane with the wacky name (for that exact reason), they always let you down. They’re ranked high because they play in a weak-ass division and their stats are inflated, so they seem like a good dark horse candidate to go all the way. But they aren’t. They never are. This is the only real piece of advice I’ll give you. Please, don’t make this mistake. Don’t pick Gonzaga to go any further than the Sweet 16.
The Final Four is the most important thing
Picking the right teams to make it to the end of the tournament is the most important part. Getting an upset or two in the Round of 64 doesn’t mean a hell of a lot in terms of scoring, but guessing a perfect Final Four will have you pretty much guaranteed one of the best scores in your group. So if you’re going to actually put time into researching these teams, figure out who the best one is from each region and go from there. And, of course, if you don’t want to actually put thought into it, drawing from a hat is always a good way to go.
Pick teams from whichever school you would rather go to
Okay, so we’ve given up on analysis at this point and we don’t want to cheat or leave it up to chance, so let’s base this thing on the schools they represent. Think about it for a second. Schools are recruiting players from high schools across the country to play for them. So if a school has a scenic campus, great frat parties, and a worthwhile student newspaper, the best players are going to be attracted to commit to that program. Think about it from your perspective. Would you rather go to USC or Providence? That isn’t an easy choice in terms of a one-and-done basketball game in the National Tournament, but it’s a pretty easy choice in terms of schools, so that should tell you something.
Pick teams from schools with lower academic standards
On the other side of that coin, the players who play for garbage schools probably have less of a chance of landing a sweet job once they graduate, so they’ll really be pouring their heart and soul into this tournament. The guys from Yale are probably busy planning how they’re going to invest their $1 million allowance this summer, while the players from Baylor know deep down that their Sociology degree isn’t going to take them anywhere.
Just flip a coin
Still can’t decide? When you get down to the nitty-gritty of No. 8 vs No. 9 seeded games in the first round, you’re pretty much guessing anyways, so let Jesus take the wheel. This is pretty lame, yeah, but it’s better than sitting there for an extended period of time and trying to convince yourself there’s a legitimate reason as to why you would choose Saint Joe’s over Cincinnati.
Draw four teams out of a hat
This is a better version of the coin flip tactic. Write down the teams who actually have a legitimate chance of grinding their way to the finals on a individual pieces of paper and put all of them in a hat. So this means axing out No. 16 and 15 seeded teams, Gonzaga, and teams led by a freshman that’s overly emotional. Once that’s ready, draw four teams and that’s your Final Four. If you drew four teams from the same side, put just those four in a hat again and do a re-draw for ultimate supremacy. Keep doing this until you have a solid Final Four, and work backwards from there.
Fuck it. Fill out multiple brackets
Yeah, that’s right. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to score, right? This is a tactic you can only use if you’re filling out brackets by hand. I mean, you can fill out a dozen brackets online, but then everyone’s going to see them. When you fill out a dozen paper copies, you can throw them away as they get busted and keep the best ones going, so when people ask if you predicted an upset, you’ll have paper evidence.
Actually, it’ll probably be easier to just change your answers as you go
If you’re too lazy to fill out multiple brackets on paper, then just do one and change your answers on the fly. The key to pulling this off is either using a really light pencil, or using the team’s abbreviations. It’s easy to swap COL for CON on your sheet if you goof and pick Connecticut instead of Colorado.