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Bracketology – Tips to be a Winner

Texas-San Antonio v Alabama State
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Millions do it…even the President fills out a bracket for college basketball’s national tournament.  Final Four. March Madness. The Big Dance. Call it what you will, it captures our imagination like no other sporting event.  Here is how to dominate in your office pool!

Looking out for No. 1: Since seeding began in 1979, at least one No. 1 seed has made the Final Four every year but two (1980, 2006). All four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four in 2008.

Body of work: Always consider the season’s performance. Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the national champion has won its regular-season conference title 18 times in 25 years.

Conference tournaments: Don’t get carried away with teams that win conference tournaments. In the past 10 NCAA tournaments, only 16 of the 40 Final Four teams were conference-tournament champions. In the past 10 NCAA tournaments, 62 percent of the league-tournament champions from power conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) were out by the NCAA region semifinals. That lends credence to the theory that a lengthy conference-tournament run takes energy away from NCAA tournament efforts.

Top three: Top-three seeded teams have won 24 of the past 27 tournaments. One title each has been won by a No. 4, No. 6 and No. 8 seeded team. No other seed has won the tournament.

Pick No. 12: Since 1989, a No. 12-seeded team has beaten a No. 5 every year except two (2000, 2007). Since 1999, the No. 12-seeded teams have won 20 of a possible 44 first-round games – and eight have advanced to the Sweet 16. Last season, three No. 12-seeded teams (Arizona, Wisconsin and Western Kentucky) won first-round games.

Sour 16: Do not pick a No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1. Since 1985, the No. 16 teams are 0-100 against the No. 1 teams. By next week, expect that figure to be 0-104.

ACC Factor: An ACC team has made the Final Four in 21 of the past 26 tournaments.

Super-size me: Since 1979, every winner of the NCAA tournament except one (2002, Maryland) has had a McDonald’s All-American on the roster. Last season, national champion North Carolina had nine McDonald’s All-Americans.

Final Four is the key: Identifying the chic early-round upset might get attention, but the way to win an NCAA tournament basketball pool is to nail as many Final Four teams as possible. Rely on logic. Sentimental favorites and an unexpectedly hot player usually last only a round or two before the heavyweight teams take over.

Last word: You will encounter the know-it-all types, the people who believe they have a line on selecting the winner in every game. Good luck with that. There are more than 9 quintillion ways to fill out a bracket (9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possibilities, to be exact).

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