Guide to picking the perfect March Madness bracket

David Rudnicki | Sports Editor

March 21, 2024

By Two-Time March Madness Bracket Champion (I haven’t won in years):

As the madness of March descends upon us once more, college basketball fans everywhere are gearing up for the annual ritual of bracket-making. With dreams of bracket perfection and office bragging rights dancing in our heads, it’s time to lay down some winning strategies – and maybe share a laugh or two along the way.

As a seasoned veteran of March Madness, boasting not one, but two championship titles, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating the treacherous waters of bracketology. And let me tell you, folks, this year’s tournament promises to be as unpredictable as ever.

SAINT PETER SHOCKS THE WORLD: major upset over 2 seed Tenssesse (espn)

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: TikTok trends and social media soothsayers. Sure, it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon of underdog teams like McNeese, Samford, or GCU, with whispers of Cinderella runs echoing across the digital landscape. But let’s not forget, for every Loyola Chicago or Saint Peter’s, there are countless busted brackets left in their wake.

My advice? Don’t buy into the hype.

Sure, throw in a Cinderella or two for the fun of it, but don’t go overboard. Senior Andre Jones believes “NC State will make a surprising run in this years tourney.” My dark horse is the 11th-seeded New Mexico Lobos. Watch out for them; they’re poised to break some hearts and brackets alike.

Next key to winning March Madness: recognizing away game prowess. In a tournament where every game feels like an away game, it’s crucial to pick teams that thrive under pressure, regardless of the venue. Basketball phenomenon and senior at San Clemente High, Faizaan Ihani comments how, “Houston performs very well away” and thus will be his “pick to win March Madness this year.” Like Faizaan, keep an eye out for those road warriors who can silence hostile crowds and deliver when it matters most. Trust me; it’ll pay dividends in the long run.

THE FIGHTING ILLINI FIGHT ON: Big 10 Champions (Illinois Athletics)

Another tip to bolster your bracket prowess is to scrutinize the strength of the schedule. Teams that have battled through a gauntlet of tough opponents are far more likely to shine on the big stage than those who’ve coasted through a weak schedule. Take Illinois, for instance, fresh off a Big Ten championship victory over formidable foes like Wisconsin, Purdue, Nebraska, and Northwestern. These are the teams that have been battle-tested and proven their mettle throughout the season.

On the flip side, beware of teams masquerading as contenders when they’ve faced little more than glorified scrimmage squads. Case in point: FAU, a perennial underdog from the AAC – not to be confused with the powerhouse ACC. No Dukes, North Carolinas, or Syracuses here, folks. Just a motley crew of nobodies like Wichita State (or is it Whichita?). Trust me, you won’t find them cutting down any nets come April.

When crafting your bracket, don’t be swayed by flashy records or inflated rankings. Instead, seek out the teams that have proven themselves against top-tier competition. It’s the surest way to separate the contenders from the pretenders and pave your path to March Madness glory.

But perhaps my most valuable piece of advice comes in the form of a simple mantra: when in doubt, just guess.

Let’s face it, folks, most of us aren’t basketball savants with encyclopedic knowledge of every team’s strengths and weaknesses. If you find yourself paralyzed by indecision, just go with your gut – or better yet, your heart. Whether it’s rooting for a team because you like their mascot or because your second cousin twice removed once visited their campus, embrace the randomness of it all. After all, isn’t that what makes March Madness so exhilarating?

In the end, remember that no one – and I mean no one – has ever crafted a perfect bracket. The odds are stacked against us to the tune of 9.2 quintillion to 1. So, relax, enjoy the ride, and revel in the glorious chaos of college basketball’s greatest spectacle.

UPSET 1 SEED PURDUE LOSE 1st ROUND: suprising? No, just another year for Purdue basketball. (purdue exponent)

As I embark on my quest for a third championship title, I invite you to join me in the pursuit of March Madness glory. Who knows? With a little luck – okay, a lot of luck – you just might find yourself cutting down the net as the ultimate champion. So go ahead, embrace the madness, and may the basketball gods smile upon your bracket.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a championship to win. Oh and one more tip. Pick Purdue to lose early – they always blow it. Good luck!

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