Last year come this time I had lots of advice to dish out. I essentially said, “hey man, do you dawg.”
There was lot of strategy for how to fill out your bracket and how to make your choices and ultimately, I probably got you really far in your pool and won you lots of money (right?)…
Either way, this year has been a crazy year in college basketball. There have been no outright champions, no dominate team to crush the rest of the competition in any conference. NBA scouts salivate at the overall level of talent for next year but there is no consensus pick leading a team towards tournament glory.
Which leads me to this years tournament post. I still am filling a bracket out just like the rest of you. In fact, I am in three separate pools and each one bring with it a different strategy. Hear me out while I explain the strategies behind each betting pool and maybe…just maybe follow along a little. Obviously as explained last year, at the end of the day, do you dawg? You are an expert simply because you think you are!
1. Don’t respect Gonzaga – EVER
Oh man. Gonzaga are so good! They won so many games. They beat teams on the road and at home at such an amazing clip! They have so many Australians! Their team has way more Aussies than your team!
Gonzaga plays in a conference that sometimes see competition from schools like Pepperdine and St. Marys…sometimes. This year, Gonzaga has played absolutely nobody of any worth in non-conference play. Sure they played Oklahoma State and won; an OKST team known for its defensive prowess. But they still lost games to Butler and Illinois–marginal teams at best.
Here’s the thing–Gonzaga got a one seed. One seeds don’t lose often. However, this one seed has beaten ZERO TOP 10 ranked teams. They haven’t been tested far from home, and they are prime for an upset.
If you are going for the win and really think you can play in safe in other regions while stepping off the ledge a little bit in the West, my pick is to have Pittsburgh, a very defense-grind it out team- taking the Bulldogs out in the second round.
One last note on this:
2. Go with the Big Ten
There aren’t many seasons when you look at the college landscape and say damn, one conference is way better than all the others. This year is one of those years. The Big Ten is just better.
Marginal teams in the conference like Minnesota still have hallmark wins against top ranked Indiana. What the hell do you do with a conference that has beaten the crap out of each other all year long while amassing one of the strongest RPI’s per conference? My answer would be not having any of those teams losing until the second round.
Does this jive with my homer status for UCLA in the first round? Yup. Would I like to see Tubby Smith cost Ben Howland his job? YUP! (I thought about writing another let’s fire Howland piece but really nothing has changed since I published this a while back)
3. Pick Kansas – Who Thought Kansas Would Get That Far!?
Kansas is a good basketball team. They have a great coach. Blah blah.
Most importantly, they got the best draw in the tournament. With the elimination of the S draft, #1 overall seed Louisville benefited little from how well they played in a difficult conference. Look at all the brackets and tell me Kansas didn’t luck the eff out.
They leave most of the dirty work to the lower seeds. Georgetown is the 2 seed and they are undoubtedly one of the weaker 2’s around. If you need a sure thing to get into the Final Four look to the Rock Chalk Jayhawks.
Well those are the top 3 picks I have for the year. Filling out a bracket is a super personal experience and if you ever have an intuition pointing you in one direction or another – go with it. Plenty of experts will tell you exactly which way to go but the whole point of the tournament is that everyone and anyone can win.
Trust in yourself, take a deep breath, try and be a little out there with your picks, and go for the win. There is no shame in losing your bracket pool outright by not playing it safe. Play for the win, be a little risky, and go Minnesota (fire Howland!)….