Tourney Tips

I watched a show called “The Experts” last night on ESPN U that featured a number of former college basketball coaches and their selections for the NCAA Tournament. It lasted three hours. If these guys were really experts wouldn’t they actually coach a team in the tournament instead of sitting in a Charlotte studio?

Anyway, they picked all four number one seeds to advanced to the final four. That about as much fun as watching tonight’s exciting first four match-up between UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock. I’m doubting this will be coined a meritorious game by Jim Nantz. (Side note: Nantz has used that word twice in one week to describe basketball games. As punishment, he gets to call the play-in games from Dayton.)

I’ve run a NCAA pool for just under two decades. In that time, I’ve learned a number of things that I hope will help you win your office pool. (Disclaimer: past performance is not an indication of future results. People can and do lose money.)

1. Always pick a 1-seed in the 1st Round. Don’t pick all of the 1-seeds to the Final Four. I firmly believe that a 16-seed will never beat a 1-seed. Most 16-seeds play in a low major conference that features a team having its first formal press conference of the season. The 16’s are truly just happy to be there. Along the way, a 1-seed will lose. I like Pittsburgh to bow out of the tournament first and Duke to follow – both in the second round.

2. Enter two brackets. Pick one with your head and one with your heart. You never want to root against your team, so don’t do it. Create the flexibility to enjoy a long run by the Cougars, Bruins, Wildcats or Badgers. Even if they don’t win, it’s much more fun when you aren’t hoping your team misses a late free throw.

3. Beware the mid-majors. About 15-20 teams can realistically win the college football national championship at the start of the season. It’s different in college basketball. Just ask Butler. The Bulldogs came within a last-second heave against Duke last year in one of the better championship games in the history of the sport. Miracles can happen. Watch out for Utah State, Oakland, Washington and Michigan State.

4. Don’t miss the deadline. I hate getting calls on Thursday afternoon asking if it’s too late to enter my pool. The answer is always yes. Make sure to have your picks in by early Thursday morning. Making the deadline to enter the pool is usually the first step towards winning.

5. Pick upsets…but don’t go crazy. 15-seed Northern Colorado probably won’t make the sweet 16. (And if they do, I’m going to feel so stupid.) Pick a 12-seed over a 5-seed. Take a 7-seed deep into the regional round. In this tournament, 30 teams can easily cut down the nets in Houston.

6. Have fun. This is the most important piece of advice. Enjoy the madness.

Get an instant fix of “Dash” all throughout the tournament. Follow him on Twitter at WBALDash.

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