10 ways to fill out NCAA brackets (PRINTABLE BRACKET)
1 ROAD TRIPS — Teams at sites far from their campus can focus on hoops, rather than bars and their girlfriends. This does not, of course, apply to BYU.
2 CHILL OUT— Be wary of teams who have endured grinding, conference tournaments. Kemba Walker might be the most exciting player in the Dance, but does UConn have enough left in the tank?
3 ON THE HORIZON — Safely pencil in Butler to win one game. The Horizon League has the highest winning percentage over the past six years, at 12-7 — and their schools have advanced to the second round in 10 of the last 13 years.
4 NO SWAG — Go for teams whose conference tourneys gave out terrible gifts. They’ll be hungry. We’re looking at you, Big West (T-shirt), MAC (nothing) and Patriot League (nothing).
5 GOOD FOR NOW — John Calipari has a knack for getting his teams deep into the tournament. Pick Kentucky, and keep your cash even after their Final Four appearance is vacated by 2014.
6 TEARS FOR FEARS — There’s no crying in basketball (Sorry, LeBron). So, until that image of Adam Morrison is erased from memory, it’s never acceptable to root for or pick Gonzaga.
7 STATE-MENT GAME — If you’ve filled out your bracket and don’t see enough upsets, go back and pick one or two teams that you don’t know where they’re located. Wofford, anyone?
8 GET OVER IT — Don’t pick against a team just because they unjustly received one of the final spots over your favorite team. Sure, VCU and UAB don’t belong, but one of those teams will win their play-in game.
9 CONFERENCE JENGA — The Big East sent eight teams last year, but only half advanced out of the first round. Only one ACC team made the Sweet 16.
10 JIMMERED — Never bet against BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. St. John’s, you’re on notice.
Breaking it down
» Team to watch: Ohio State. They’re the No. 1 overall seed for a reason.
» Upset alert: No. 11 Marquette over No. 6 Xavier.
» Player to watch: Isaiah Thomas, Washington. He’s a “cold-blooded” assassin with the game on the line.
» Team to watch: Louisville. Rick Pitino’s squad is clicking — and can compete with anyone
» Upset alert: No. 6 Georgetown. Either USC or VCU will be motivated.
» Player to watch: Demetri McCamey, Illinois. Think Deron Williams, ’05.
» Team to watch: Florida. Might be most balanced team in entire field.
» Upset alert: Belmont over No. 4 Wisconsin.
» Player to watch: Jacob Pullen, K-State. The bearded one can and will take over games at will.
» Team to watch: Duke. Looked really tough yesterday after waxing UNC.
» Upset alert: No. 14 Bucknell over No. 3 UConn.
» Player to watch: Seth Curry, Duke. Shoots the lights out and can play a little point guard.