10 easiest ways to ruin your NCAA bracket
by Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports
Winning your NCAA tournament pool is about more than making the right picks — it’s about avoiding the disastrous ones. Here are the 10 things you don’t want to do when filling out your bracket.
1. Go with the biggest trends. All week you’re going to hear about St. Louis and Bucknell and the 12/5 upset that history says will happen. Don’t be taken in by the wisdom of crowds. Following trends may feel right in the moment, then, boom, it’s five years later and you’re looking back at photos of yourself wearing skinny jeans and a trucker hat and wondering where it all went wrong. Fill out a bracket you can be proud of in three weeks, win or lose. Be your own bracketologist. Trends flame out quickly. St. Louis and Bucknell are great picks, but they’re not as great if everyone else in your pool has them too. You win by zigging when other poolers zag.
2. Pick more than two No. 1s to make Final Four. If your bracket looks too chalky, remember this: Only four times in the 28-year history of the modern NCAA brackets have three No. 1 seeds made the Final Four. But don’t turn your back on No. 1. There have been just two occasions where no top seed has made the Final Four.
3. Rush your entry. There are four play-in games before the “real” tournament begins on Thursday. Few pools require you pick those game. However, the teams that win those First Four games will appear in the 64-team bracket you’re picking. It doesn’t matter whether Indiana plays LIU Brooklyn or James Madison in the second round. That won’t affect you picking the Hoosiers to advance. You may consider taking the winner of Middle Tennessee State and St. Mary’s to beat Memphis. Brackets aren’t due until noon ET on Thursday and there’s no bonus for submitting early. If you’re looking for an upset from a First Four team, wait until the field of 64 is set on Wednesday night before making your picks.
4. Pick Louisville. The tournament’s No. 1 … [For more on The 10 easiest ways to ruin your NCAA tournament bracket, click here.]