1.Nice threads— Your mom and Suzanne in accounting swear by this method ... and so should you. What, you actually watch the games? Picking teams by the color of their uniform is as old as the tournament itself. If you haven’t checked out Baylor’s fluorescent unis yet, do yourself a favor. Watch one of their games late-night and you’re a glow stick and a pacifier away from being at a rave.
2. Brawl for it all — Pick a team with some grit and a team that could very well show up in New Orleans ready to throw down with the opposition ... literally. Yup, we’re looking at you Cincinnati.
3. Road trips — Get out of mom and dad’s basement. This is college. Have some fun on the road. Afterall, the drinks have that much more of a kick away from home. Sorry, BYU.
4. Sleaze it up — What fun is March without snake-oil salesmen like John Calipari? While Cal has yet to win the big one, his team of “one-and-doners” once again has some of the best talent in the field. So take the grease, in this case. Rick Pitino’s Louisville-squad might work as well. As we all know by now, sleaze wins in the NCAA. Sorry, Brad Stevens.
5. Geographically challenged — Is the middle of your bracket loaded with the usual suspects (Kansas, Duke, UNC, UConn, Syracuse etc.)? Try picking a couple of teams to advance to the Sweet Sixteen that you’ve never heard of or are uncertain as to where, exactly, they are from. The Belmont Bruins assuredly await your selection.
6. History is on your side— The last time the Final Four was located in New Orleans, Syracuse brought home the trophy for Jim Boeheim. Kansas, Marquette and Texas were the three other teams to make it to “The Big Easy” back in 2003. ’Cuse has had nearly a week of prep work for their first rounder.
7. High stakes coaches — The heavyweight coaches in this field truly care about history. Coach K is chasing his fifth national championship, Jim Calhoun his fourth, Roy Williams his third, Jim Boeheim his second and Rick Pitino his second. Many members of this group are on their last legs in the coaching world and adding one more title to their résumé would work wonders for their legacies. Go with the legends.
8. East coast bias — Only one of the last 10 NCAA champions was located west of the Mississippi. The last true teams from the West to win were Arizona in 1997 and UCLA in 1995.
9. Screw GPAs — In the words of the immortal Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, “good is dumb.” In this case, dumb is good. So don’t pick a Harvard to go farther than say, a UConn. The defending national champion Huskies’ academic progress rate scores were so low last season that the NCAA docked Jim Calhoun and Co. two scholarships.
10. Conference Jenga — The Big East sent a record 11 teams to the dance last year but only two of the 11 teams made the Sweet Sixteen. UConn was the lone Final Four representative. The Big East once again lapped the field in getting teams into the dance but there’s certainly no guarantee that two or three will be around come Elite Eight time.