By Jeff Nunn, CardinalSportsZone.com senior contributor
So, you threw down a few bucks and entered your NCAA bracket ofﬁce pool. You quickly ﬁlled out your bracket and turned it in feeling conﬁdent. On the Monday morning after the ﬁrst weekend of games, you are in your break room at work and you hear people talking about how many picks they got correct and what place they are in. You are sitting there thinking how your bracket looks like a toddler colored on it with a red sharpie. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, then let me stimulate your mind with a few tips and trends that might help you avoid having your bracket busted.
Head over Heart
When picking games the hardest thing to do is to be realistic about how good your favorite team is. You can’t let your heart make picks for you. You have watched them all year, and deep down you know how good they are, but don’t let your desire for them to be successful cloud your judgement. Use your head.
12 vs. 5
A 12 seed winning is a safe gamble. In 28 of the past 32 NCAA tournaments, at least one 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed. Multiple 12 seeds winning is also fairly common, but don’t get carried away because 12 seeds don’t advance very far after making their upset of the 5 seed. In fact, only one 12 seed has advanced to the Elite Eight and only 26 percent of the 12 seeds that win their first game have gone on to win their second game since 1985. Take your 12 seed win and get out.
For those of you who like to pick a game based on your favorite color or because your cousin graduated from there, here is your spot. The eight vs. nine game is basically a 50-50 game. If you want any hints on who to pick, I suggest you check the Las Vegas betting lines and see who they favor. Those guys are pretty good.
Fork In The Road
When you get to that game that you just can’t decide who to pick, break out your smart phone or laptop and look up strength of schedule. Take the school with the harder schedule. If that doesn’t help, then pick the school with the more experienced coach.
Money with the 1’s
A No. 1 seed has NEVER lost a first round game. Don’t try to be a hero and pick the first big upset. It’s not happening. Nobody likes picking the favorites, but be very careful when predicting an upset of a No. 1 seed. Since the tournament expanded in 1985, there have been 64 championship game participants. Of those 64, 30 have been a No. 1 seed and 19 have been crowned national champions. Don’t pick all No. 1 seeds in your Final Four but you should have at least one. At least one No. 1 seed has made it to the Final Four every year except 1980, 2006 and 2011.
Parity in college basketball is becoming more apparent. The 11 seed versus the 6 seed is proof. In the past 12 tournaments, an 11 has beaten a 6, including twice in 2014 and three times in 2016.
Why so Blue?
If you must pick a game based on the color of the uniform, make sure you pick a national champion with a blue uniform. Twelve of the past 13 years, the champion has had a shade of blue in their uniform. Louisville in 2013 is the lone exception.
Always remember that this is just for fun and entertainment. I wish you all best of luck!