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Mar 12

How do you choose your bracket? Expert versus Amateur

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Basketball Bracket

It's all open... who do you think will be the final partners of the Big Dance?

Picking your bracket for March Madness is a pretty big deal for people all across the country — even the President is known to have his bracket ready to go when it comes time for the Big Dance.

It’s the same here at Vann’s. When we’re not talking about flat screen TVs, home theater systemsappliances, and top rated tablets, we’re following our favorite teams, and getting our own brackets ready with care and research.

Well some of us anyway. For a newbie like me coming into this for the first time, I decided to seek the help of an expert. Someone who had the experience and know-how to show me what I needed to do to make the best picks for the Big Dance. I found Matt, another one of our writers, who gave me the advice I needed.

Matt’s expert perspective

Looking at the seed rankings is important. This year, especially, there’s a large talent gap between the 1, 2, and 3 seeds and the rest of the pack. That said, there’s always upsets and underdog teams that do well because it’s a one-loss and you’re out format.

Some teams are historically good, so I trust their pedigree, like UNC, Kentucky, and Michigan State. For underdogs, I look at teams that were ranked lower, but had recent success and surprised people in the last 1-2 years because these teams often have juniors and seniors that have played together for a few years. The bigger schools have NBA talent, and they leave after their freshman or sophomore year to make coin. Often, a scrappy lower-ranked team with a group of seniors stands a good chance of beating a high-ranked team loaded with professional-level talent.

I read blogs on my top rated tablet or watch ESPN to get info on these surprise teams. This year, people are touting Wichita State, as they have 5 seniors who’ve played together for years, and a Center who’s 7 feet tall.

Match-ups and structure also play a part in terms of the bracket. Which teams are in the region. This year, the South region has two powerhouse programs, Kentucky and Duke, who have a huge amount of NCAA basketball history and may have to play each other for a trip to the Final Four. While the NCAA Selection Committee would deny this, I think they stack certain regions to get match-ups that will draw TV ratings, like the Kentucky-Duke potential match. In the East bracket, however, the field looks weaker and the chance of an underdog looks good. Or, perhaps a 3 seed like Florida State could make a run.

When I’m picking, I don’t tend to pick upsets for 1-2 seeds, rarely 3, often 4, and I always pick at least one 5 seed to lose to a 12.

My picks for the First Four are: Mississippi Valley State, Iona, Vermont, and California.

Matt's Big Dance bracket

How will Matt's bracket fare this March?

Adam’s amateur perspective

Since Matt’s advice sounds like. . . well, like a lot of work, I decided to go with a much more simple method.

I’m choosing my picks based on what mascot would win if they were pit against each other in wild.

Admittedly, this will be hard for some mascots (just within the First Four I’m not really sure what Western Kentucky’s mascot is supposed to be), and put others at a significant disadvantage (sorry, bird teams). But, I’m confident that this method will prove statistically better than just guessing. Or at least be more more fun. I’ll be using one of the top rated tablets from Vann’s to keep track of my bracket.

My picks for the First Four are: Mississippi Valley State (Devil beats. . . red blob thing), Vermont (guy with a stick beats the cougar), Iona (cat eats bird), and California (tough one, but I think the bear would ultimately beat the bull).

Adam's Amateur bracket

How is Adam's selection method going to hold up?

What are your methods for picking your bracket? Do you follow the expert or the entertaining method? Let us know in the comments, and check back as we get closer to the Final Four to see how Matt and I do with our brackets.



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