There is a slim margin for error when it comes to winning your NCAA tournament bracket pool. College basketball fans devote their attention to making the right call on upsets and Final Four.
Here's a look at the five tips of what to do when making your March Madness picks:
1. Do not pick a team that has not been better than .500 in its last 10 games Ahem, Marquette. A winning bracket takes a little research. The best way to avoid mishaps is to evaluate the team's play in late February and early March, because as much as the tournament is about matchups, a team that's playing poorly should not be ignored. The Golden Eagles, for example, are the best-seeded team from the Big East. But they've also lost five of six and do not look like they're about to peak. Same story for Louisville, which has lost seven of 1
2. Do not be fooled by the recency effect Do not be the person who says, "Oh, they won their conference tournament, they're a good Elite Eight darkhorse." That's lazy. Iowa State is a good example. The Cyclones surprisingly won the Big 12 tournament, but they lost three in a row before that. They also have a tough draw in Ohio State, which was only seeded as a No. 11 due to injury. This is more like a No. 8 No. 9 matchup than a No. 6 No. 11. A team's streak should be a factor, but do not let that motivate you to completely ignore a bad matchup (i.e., No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11s Arizona State or St. John's).
Do not pick a No. 16 seeds to beat a No. 1. It will not happen again, so do not get your hopes up. While UMBC's upset of the top overall seed of Virginia busted brackets everywhere last year, it took 136 attempts to make it happen, and it's unlikely the same fate would occur to one of the four No. 1s this year. Plus, if you make that pick, what's the payoff? You get one first-round pick on the good end (because you do not expect a No. 16 seed to win again). Is it for bragging rights? Pick wrong and you would lose a potential Sweet 16, Elite Eight or Final Four finisher.
4. Do not assume that a team that did well last year or historically does well will do well this year. There is a ton of turnover in college basketball with one-and-done players. Yes, bluebloods and historically good teams are a good starting point, but make sure to do a little investigation first. For example, Villanova won the national championship two of the last three years, but the Sweet 16 is probably the Wildcats' ceiling this year.
Do not pick a team because it's your favorite Do not let your enjoyment of a team drive your bracket into the ground. Do not overlook Kentucky's advantage over No. 7 Wofford just because you want to see Houston vs. the Terriers in the Sweet 16.