Cramming for Bracketology is one of the great American pastimes. The field will be set and from Sunday night into Tuesday morning you will be scouring for information on matchups and teams that you’ve probably rarely seen play to foretell your path to the Final Four.
But before you fill out your brackets and indulge in the Great Watch of Thursday and Friday with the first round of the NCAA Tourney and the wall to wall hoops do yourself a big favor by doing your homework this weekend.
The conference tourneys are in full throttle and they should be viewed as more than just a fun appetizer. Watch the semis and finals of each tournament and see how teams are playing. It is a great indicator as to what will happen the rest of March.
Over the last 20 years, 12 of the national champions had won their conference tournament and entered The Dance as a hot team — including Villanova last year. Three of the champs had lost in the finals of their conference tourney, while the other five made it to the semis.
Economists Daniel Stone of Bowdoin College in Maine and Jeremy Arkes of Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, published a study in the journal Economic Inquiry in 2016 that made the argument that the committee’s seedlings do not reflect regency bias of how well a team is playing, instead favoring a season-long system.
What that means is the hot team is often undervalued by the committee and presents a good opportunity for Bracketologists, especially those teams which loses in its conference finals.
So the advice here is to watch closely what happens on the court THIS WEEKEND to help guide you through the process. Remember the hot team — especially the one that only gets into The Dance by winning its conference tournament (think 2011 National Champion UCONN) — is the one you might move through each region, regardless of what seed it is awarded by the committee.
That hot team can also be money with the point spread as well — so watch and learn about where a team is in terms of health and in matchups with style of play and in confidence.
Sister Jean may give you a spiritual guide but nothing portends better for a successful March than doing your homework.
TEAM TO WATCH
Since I write this column on Thursdays, please know the weekend is still a mystery. That said — I like potential sleepers Oregon and Oregon State in the PAC 12, Florida in the SEC as well as the favorite Kentucky, Villanova and Marquette in the Big East, Iowa State and Texas Tech in the Big 12, and Virginia and North Carolina in the ACC — meaning I think Duke gets tripped up before the final weekend. I also love Buffalo to make a run — like we said a month ago.
I think the Sixers beat Sacramento in a revenge game but don’t cover a spread of 9 or more. Sunday is the barometer game against the Bucks but I don’t the Sixers have jelled enough with their new personnel to win.
I like Golden State Saturday night at OKC to make the same statement it made against Houston in Wednesday night — meaning the Warriors, despite a recent period of mortality, still own the west.
Not feeling great about the Flyers Friday night in Toronto or Sunday at Pittsburgh. Could be where the playoff dream ends.
Remember these past two weeks when you rip me for predicting losers. We nailed the Rockets beating the Sixers on Friday night — it was a rout from the start — and the Sixers beating the Pacers on Sunday. We nailed Boston over the Lakers on Saturday night and also had two easy college winners — Duke and Michigan State — to go 5-0.
Additionally, we told you to hop on the Browns future at 25 to 1 heading into free agency and they had a lovely first couple of days, including pulling off the trade for Odell.
That makes us 10-1 last two weeks — just sayin’.