The Madness is Here
by Max Greenhalgh
March Madness is upon us, my favorite time of year. This year, college basketball is a crazy, parity-filled madhouse full of upsets, so this year’s tournament promises to be just as crazy, in not more so. Of course, the time has come for the March Madness pools, and if you are tired of Gary winning every year because he picks all the one seeds to win every game they play, except those games against one another (you’re boring Gary, no one likes you!), this should be a good guide to follow.
- Let’s start off with the big ones, the craziest and most absurd upsets you should pick. No seed higher than 13 should win any games on your bracket if you are serious about wanting to take some money from your friends. 14 seeds rarely win anything past the first round (if they even manage that), 15 seeds have won a total of 8 games, and the 16 seeds have never(!) won a NCAA tournament game.
- … Buuuuuuuut make sure to pick at least one, if not two or three, 12 seeds. The 12 seeds have won 35% of their opening round games, a figure that has been steadily increasing over the last several years (last year, in a surprising shift, no 12 seeds won a game. Don’t count on that anomaly continuing this year).
- In the end, make sure to have some chalk in the Final Four (Gary is winning for a reason), but it shouldn’t be all one seeds. All four one seeds have only made it to the Final Four once, in 2008. At least one, probably two teams in the two to five seed range should make the Final Four.
- When the bracket is done, make sure to look at your National Champion and see if they are a prototypical championship basketball team. Dean Oliver, founder of basketball statistic analysis giant APBRmetrics, identified four factors that contribute to a basketball team’s success: shooting (40%), turnovers (25%), rebounding (20%), and free throws (15%). If your winner can’t be consistently successful in at least three of these four main categories, then you need to reconsider the end of your bracket.
If you are looking for some more basic potential Cinderella runs, here are a few that seem plausible:
- Arkansas at Little Rock – If they can get out of a rough first round matchup against a big Purdue team, the rest of their road to the Sweet 16 could open up due to shaky play throughout the year for other high seeded teams in the region.
- Gonzaga – Also in the Midwest region, the Zags have underwhelmed for most of the year, but heated up recently, beating favorite St. Mary’s in their conference tournament. Lead by big veteran presences inside, they pose a serious threat to anyone who can’t guard big men out to the three point line.
- Wichita State – Lead by senior floor general Fred VanVleet and off-ball scorer Ron Baker, this team has a lot of talent and tournament experience, and will play one of the weaker 6 seeds in Arizona if they can beat Vanderbilt in the First Four.
Well, that’s about all the help I can give you. The beauty of March Madness is that we will all somehow have half our predicted Final Four teams out of the tournament in the second day anyway, but it’s fun to pretend you have an idea what you are doing. Good luck to all, except for you Gary. We are really going to kick you out of the group next year.
Here’s the link to print out the March Madness bracket: