Jay’s Bracket Tips
Whether you're in a big money office pool or just looking for some bragging rights with your friends, you should have some success this month by following a few simple tips.
I've been in competitive, high-stakes bracket pools since I was 13-years old (I wish that was a lie, but it's true). While each year the tourney brings us shocking upsets and crazy finishes, there are most-always a few things you can count on year after year.
So, without further adieu, here are my bracket tips for 2016.
1. 12-5 Upsets Are Overrated
Interestingly enough, a 12-seed beating a 5-seed in the first round is statistically more common than an 11 beating a 6. But, the likelihood of one making it to the 2nd weekend isn't good. Plus, this year's 5-seeds (Maryland, Baylor, Purdue, Indiana) are strong. You can usually count on at least two of these upsets, but this year I'm picking only one (Yale over Baylor).
2. Villanova will break your heart
Never, and I mean NEVER pick Villanova to get past the first weekend. The Wildcats will take your dignity, rip it out of your body and step on it until all that's left are the crushed up remains. I have them losing in the 2nd round to Temple.'
3. Sorry Hawkeye fans...
Iowa traditionally chokes in February and March, and we've already seen that this year. The Hawks come in having won only one game in the last 29 days. Against a tough Temple team, I see Iowa bowing out right away.
4. What about Iowa State and UNI?
The state of Iowa is lucky enough to have three teams in the field this year.
I really like the Cyclones to handle Iona easily in round 1. But, Purdue lurks in the 2nd round. The Boilermakers are on fire, the Cyclones have been sluggish. I don't see the Iowa State making to the Sweet 16.
While Northern Iowa is the underdog as an 11-seed going up against 6-seed Texas, I really like the match up. Usually, winning in the tournament comes down to guard play. The Panthers have one of the most underrated guards in the country in Wes Washpun. I think UNI pulls off the first-round upset, but I think the magic ends against a red-hot Texas A&M team in round 2.
5. Xavier and Butler always get a win
It's science. If you don't have both of these teams winning their first round game, change your bracket now.
6. Michigan State IS March
It doesn't matter if they're a 1, 2, 5, 7, 12, 16 or 99 seed. Tom Izzo ALWAYS finds a way to get his team to the Final Four. If you don't have Sparty making it to Houston, you need to change your bracket ASAP.
7. 1-Seeds aren't always top dog
In each of the last five tournaments, at least one 1-seed has lost in the Sweet 16 or earlier. The big question is, which one will it be this year? I say Oregon. They played in a lackluster conference (Pac-12) and they're not seasoned with NCAA Tourney experience. The Ducks don't even make it past the first weekend, in my opinion.
8. Don't be a hero
Yes, a 15 has beaten a 2 before, but only SEVEN times in the history of the tournament. Also, a 16 has NEVER beaten a 1. Don't try to be Nostradamus, pick all the 1's and 2's to get out of the first round.
9. Count on the usual suspects in the Final Four
What does each Final Four have in common? After all the madness we see in the early rounds, it's usually the same crop of teams who are left standing on the final weekend. Personally, I have Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Michigan State going to Houston this year.
10. Try not to cry when you're bracket gets busted
You can follow all the rules and tips you want, but when the ref throws the ball in the air, it's out of your hands. More than likely, your bracket will be busted. It'll also probably be sometime in the first weekend. The biggest advice I can give is DO NOT base your mood on how your bracket is doing over the next three weeks. This is the most exciting time of the year to be a sports fan, enjoy it no matter what happens.