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Graham’s tips on mastering bracketology

Published 10:28am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By Andy Graham

March Madness has finally descended upon us and college basketball will reign supreme for the next several weeks.
Honestly, the NCAA basketball season can drag on at times and become a little mundane down the stretch, but all that’s over now.
With the “Big Dance” comes a veritable barrage of buzzer beaters and highlight heroics in composite form.
Schools we’ve never heard of slip on a glass tennis shoe and live out a Disney fairytale.
Kids who’ve previously had no recognition become stars overnight and household names. During the first two rounds, there’s one great game on after another for four straight days.
They even overlap so I find myself switching back and forth between channels wearing out my remote and making myself dizzy, but I can’t get enough of it.
It truly is the greatest time in all of basketball on any level and the best thing is they settle it on the court.
It’s now become a ritual for practically everyone to fill out a tournament bracket and pick every game down to the national champion. It seems like this all started around 1985 when the field expanded to 64 teams. Years ago, I would just print out a copy of the bracket on an actual piece of paper and fill it in with an actual writing utensil. I would then get together with several friends and whoever got the most games right may or may not have won a predetermined amount of U.S. currency.
Nowadays, every sports network has its own bracket challenge where you can actually win up to $1 million.
Things certainly have changed and I roll with the punches. I filled out my bracket the other day in cyberspace. Who knows? I may just be a rich man very soon.
Technically the tournament has already begun with play-in games last night and tonight. However, the real games don’t begin until Thursday night, so there’s still time to fill out that last minute bracket.
True bracketology is equal parts science & art and it takes both to fill one out properly. Here are a few tips for all you would be millionaires:
A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed so eliminate those immediately. Okay, that was an easy one.
Since 1979, the lowest seed to make it to the Final Four was the No. 11 seed and that has only happened three times (George Mason ’06, LSU ’86 and VCU ’11).
The lowest seed to win the championship was Villanova as the No. 8 seed in 1985. In 30 of the last 34 years, the national champion has been crowned as a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 seed, so that narrows down the field for you quite a bit.
Make sure to pick the top three seeds to go deep in the tournament.
The real trick is picking upsets and a lot of times that has more to do with art than science. It might just be a gut feeling about a certain team or a particular match-up you think might be exploited.
The problem is one upset in the first round doesn’t do you much good if they go on to lose in the second round.
When choosing a Cinderella, your best bet is to go with a No.10 seed.
A team that was a No. 10 seed has made it to the Elite Eight nine times in the last 34 years.
The No. 12 seed has only made it once and no No. 13, No. 14 or No. 15 seed has ever made it that far.
Follow my advice and you can’t go wrong. Then again, I think some girl won the ESPN challenge a couple of years ago picking every game according to their mascots.
Good luck!
Graham is a sports columnist for The Outlook.