While the bracket hasn’t been released yet, it doesn’t hurt to take the time and consider what is important in selecting a champion. Some people will select a team based on color, mascot, or even location. Individuals that love pure chance will utilize coin flips and random number generators. Personally, I need some logic and statistics when I pick my winner.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: How on earth am I supposed to research all 68 teams in the bracket? It’s actually a lot easier than you think. The simple answer is that you don’t! Using some simple logic and reasoning, you can narrow your field down tremendously and make your life easier. Just follow these simple steps:
- 9 or below, let it go: If you are a 9-16 seed, I’m sorry to say that it’s not in the cards for you. The lowest seed to ever win March Madness was an 8-seed Villanova team in 1985. I think this year is crazy, but not crazy enough to see a 9 or below seed get it done. I am going to eliminate every 9-16 seed from my potential-champions list, and this cuts the field down by over 50%.
- On the road again: During March Madness, you don’t get the luxury of home-court advantage. Thus, the ability to play well on the road is huge for a team looking to cut down the nets in the end. You have to be able to survive in different regions and locations, and there are many teams this year that are tremendous at home, but they can’t figure it out on the road.
- Conference kings: How does the team do in the conference championship? Each team playing will have seen their opponent at least once before. This means these games can be tremendous benchmarks to track growth and development as a team. These games are always emotional rollercoasters, and they show just how well a team can game plan and adjust. It’s not vital to win the conference to win March Madness, but it sure helps paint a better picture of who a team is.
- Been there, done that: Newcomers are cool, and they capture our hearts, but in the end, do they get the job done? Do yourself a favor and pull up the list of winners and runner-up’s for March Madness over the last 20 years. If you look at the runner-up’s, then you will see some diversity. If you look at the winners, you will see a great amount of consistency. The same 10-12 schools are always the one’s a winner typically comes from. There is always an exception, but it isn’t very rare.
- Been there, lost last year, done that: So, here’s the caveat to point #4: Don’t pick last year’s champion. The most recent team to repeat was Florida in 2006 and 2007. Before they, you have to go back to Duke in 1991 and 1992 and UCLA during their run in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s safe to say that Virginia won’t be cutting down the nets in back-to-back years.
- Shooting & stars: The title isn’t a typo. You need two things in a winning team: shooting and stars. It’s very difficult to be a title team without both tremendous outside shooting and a superstar or two. A team needs to have a catalyst when the going gets tough and shooters to lift them over the top. This can help knock out some more teams.
- Conference difficulty: An even bigger thing to consider than if you won your conference is how good is your conference? For example, would you pick the winner of the Big Sky conference over the best team in the BIG10? I think most people would easily say “no way.” However, how far down the list do we have to go before it’s a conversation? Is the 6th best team in the BIG10 still better? 7th? 8th? Also, how does the BIG10 conference as a whole compare to every other conference? Take the teams from weak conferences and cast them aside. A champion from a weak conference is just a place holder.
Using these tips and tricks, you can trim the pool of 68 down tremendously. Another interesting fact is that of the last 28 NCAA tournaments, 20 have been won by a one seed. They are #1 seeds for a reason! Enjoy finding your champion, and get ready to eventually have to say goodbye to your winner, even if all the stats and research back them up. Why? It’s March, and there’s going to be Madness.