Admit it: You enjoy participating in the NCAA pools at work, scheming and dreaming about how to collect that nice little pot of coinage as well as earn some interoffice bragging rights. But the reality is, when it comes to winning anything more than the booby prize, you’ve basically been throwing up bricks all these years.Now, even the so-called experts don’t always get it right because, frankly, most of the time the Big Dance is just a crapshoot. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a fighting chance. To that end, we here at 360 have put our heads together and come up some time-tested prognosticating tips that might just put you in the hunt.
If you are looking for first-round upsets, look at the 8-9 seed matchups. The No. 9 seed actually has a winning record of nearly 52 percent since 1985. If you are looking at another area for an upset, the No. 12 seed beats the No. 5 seed one out of every three meetings.
Forget the 16s
Someday, a No. 16 seed will beat a No. 1 seed, but this isn’t an upset you should pick. Ever. Heading into this year’s tournament, the 16s have an 0-120 record against No. 1s.
Know the “First Four”
The last few years, the NCAA has insisted on calling the tournament’s four play-in games the “first round.” In 2016, those games will be renamed the “First Four” and the initial games in the 64-team bracket will reclaim the “first round” moniker. We’d encourage you to make the change in your vocabulary immediately.
Fight the temptation
Don’t pick the Zags to win it all, because it just ain’t gonna happen. If recent history is any indication, you’ll be putting all your Gonzaga gear – including those ridiculous car flags – back in the closet before the Sweet 16 rolls around.
Double your pleasure
Since 1989 no team with double-digit losses has won the NCAA title.
Go with a winner
The last three times the tournament was held in Indianapolis, a team that won its conference tournament title also won the NCAA title – Duke, Florida and Michigan State.
18 and streaking
If you believe in streaks, when picking your Final Four, add the four seeds together and have the total be 18. That has been the total sum of the last two Final Fours – 2013: Louisville (1), Michigan (4), Syracuse (4) and Wichita State (9); 2014: Florida (1), Wisconsin (2), Connecticut (7) and Kentucky (8).
Since seeding began in 1979, there have been only three years where a No. 1 seed failed to make the Final Four. However, only once (2008) have all four No. 1 seeds made it.
Picking the higher seeds all the way through is just boring, like ordering vanilla ice cream every single time. Be daring, change it up, make it fun.
Pick your final four first
If you actually follow college basketball in other months beside March, pick the teams you expect to be in the Final Four first. Otherwise, you might end up with teams you really wouldn’t expect to make it all the way.
Don’t go that direction
Don’t pick “directional” schools. Southern Northeast School of Western Technology won’t advance. History shows that North Carolina, obviously, is the exception.
Banana slugs to the final four?
Stick to common mascots. Wildcats (see Kentucky and Arizona) are good bets. Resist the urge to pick the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz. Oh wait, they’re D-III anyway so it’s unlikely you’ll see them in this bracket.
Don’t throw a pass from the 1-yard line in the Super Bowl when you have the best running back … sorry, wrong sport.