How to Fill Out Your NCAA Tournament Bracket

It’s right about time to finish filling out your brackets now that you know who made it out of the First Four into the 2016 NCAA Tournament. But how to fill it so you win your office pool and get the most points out of the brackets? Here’s our five tips for you, maybe aiding you in gaining some sort of edge.

It’s the Teams, not the Seeds

There are some guidelines experts and anyone around the office love to mention before filling out their bracket: A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed. A #12 over #5 upset is quite common. Rarely do more than two of the #1 teams make it into the Final Four. We all know that. But unless you really are filling this out blind without having the patience, desire or time to do a little bit of research (why not, you could learn something!), it’s worth knowing how good the teams are. You don’t have to dive into turnover percentage or perimeter defense, but knowing something besides the name and seed number helps.

Experience Matters

Obviously, having the most talented team regardless of how long some of these players have been in college helps. But it also helps, even for small schools, to have an experienced squad, with a tournament or two (maybe even the CBA or NIT) on their CV. Remember Duke getting upset by Mercer a couple of years ago? Sometimes kids who are touted to go top 5 in the NBA draft after just one year in college buckle down under the pressure of the bright lights of an NCAA Tournament.

Home Court (or something like that)

Some teams get to play very close to home. And it helps. Unles you’re a team that everyone in the region hates. Anyways, in the first few games, look at where the games are being held, and crosscheck it with how good or bad some teams are when playing away from home and in front of their own crowds. It might make a huge difference come gameday.

Beware Jump Shooting, Small Teams

Shooting teams get hot. And they can get hot and never go cold during a tournament. But teams that completely rely on the play of their guards and not just that but their ability to hit the long ball tend to falter at some point. The three pointer is becoming more and more important in both college and NBA level, but don’t think every team taking a lot of threes is going to go deep. You still need defense, you still need rebounding, and at some point, a shooting night of 8-for-30 from three or combined for two star guards is going to kill a team if there’s no safety net.

Regular Season matters, but not all of it

When looking at what some teams did in the regular season or their conference tournament, look for wins away from home and again ranked or high RPI teams. What shouldn’t be too important is their OOC record, especially in the early, early games of the season. It’s been a few months, and these teams are often very different come March compared to how they were in November at some invitational in Hawai’i or a Caribbean island.

Warning: I’ve never won a pool in my life. I’ve finished in the top 5 twice over the last four years (out of about 80 people), so everything written above might be worthless.
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