Picking NCAA teams is quite a bracket

Will Kansas' Marcus Morris be cutting down the title net?
Will Kansas' Marcus Morris be cutting down the title net?
Posted: March 14, 2011

YOU HAVE THE unscathed NCAA bracket right in front of you, fresh from the copy machine and full of promise.

If you're an expert, you need some help in filling out the bracket, but you aren't interested. If you are like most bracket players, you know a little but not a lot, but at least your selections aren't based on the color of the uniforms.

The trick to successful brackets, really, is to leave allegiance and emotion out of it. The other trick is to not run too far with your upset special. If you have a team you adore that you know is going shock the world, get in and get out. Be satisfied with the one upset you know they will pull. They rarely pull a second one.

Specifically, here is a cool sixpack to guide you through the bracket and increase your odds of winning (for once):

* 1. Get behind the top seeds. You might not love Duke, or even be able to stomach Duke, but odds are that Duke and the other top seeds will be around for a while. Take the top seeds right through to the Elite Eight, then go with your gut.

* 2. It's always fun to look at the bracket and, like insider trading, pick that upset that no one will have. This year, Oakland (Mich.) is the trendy upset special, the Gonzaga of its day. Oakland is a 13 seed going against Texas, a 4 seed. Take Oakland, if you must, but the Longhorns will probably get through. Likewise, stay away from Princeton against Kentucky. Pick Kentucky, no matter how distasteful it is.

* 3. The 5-12 game is usually ripe for an upset. How does No. 12 Richmond vs. Vanderbilt sound? Or underrated No. 12 Utah State vs. Kansas State? Or No. 12 Memphis vs. Arizona? Or the No. 12 UAB-Clemson winner vs. West Virginia. One of these No. 12 teams will win. Take your favorite.

* 4. Bat .500 in the 8-9 games, which is not easy to do. That's George Mason-Villanova; Michigan-Tennessee; UNLV-Illinois; and Butler-Old Dominion.

* 5. Spend the most time with the Southeast Region. Lots of upset possibilities here. The UCLA-Michigan State 7-10 game sounds like it should be a Final Four game.

* 6. Here's our Final Four, unscientifically selected: Ohio State, Connecticut, Kansas and Pittsburgh. It's three No. 1 seeds and a 3 seed (UConn). The winner? Kansas. If you want to have fun and play an upset bracket, take this Final Four: Syracuse, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin. The winner? Arizona. *

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