There can only be one champion. On March 19th, a bunch of kids will rule the world, well maybe just the U.S., but a flock of student-athletes no older than 22 will take control of major TV stations, news feeds, SportsCenter, and millions of fingers-crossed individuals across the country. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not, haven’t watched a single game all season or if you even know the difference between a crossover and a finger roll – March Madness is less than a week away and it’s time to set your bracket.
The tourney has 68 teams, or at least there has been since the great expansion in 2011, for you to choose from and have battle their way to the final showdown. Where do you even begin? What stars do you read to guide your hopeful victors? And with a little over 9.2 quintillion (that’s 18 f*cking zeros) different bracket possibilities, you and everyone else has got their own method to the madness. It’s all going to come down to who turns their wizardry into sicko mode.
And no matter if you’re duking it out with everyone at the office, amongst family, a group of friends or vying for Yahoo!’s $1 million (sadly only 6 zeros) grand prize, you can’t deny you’re going to need a bit of luck. But there is still a chance for you to be crowned champion, it just depends on what path you to take to get there.
- Battle of the Mascots… If you haven’t, you need to. Print off a second, third or just extra bracket this year and pick your winners based on a gladiator-style fight of the mascots. No other sporting event will you see a Terrapin battle a Norse or two of nature’s fiercest, the Wolverines vs the Badgers, or even a Red Raider take on a Horned Frog. It’s like the Puppy Bowl mixed with the red shells of Mario Kart. It’s Darwinism at its finest.
- Alma Mater… Yeah, yeah. You went to a D1 college or university and you had professional caliber players in your Intro to Poetry class. Everyone gets it, you have to root for them – it’s like an unspoken bond. And come every March you are guaranteed to watch your team make a good run. Or even better, it’s the first time your school has made to the big show and every game is do or die.
- Family Ties… Grandpa went, dad went, you went, and little Bobby Jr. is already picking which dorm he’ll be in at the age of 4. O’Doyle Rules!!
- By the Numbers… Simple. Clean. Most Probable. Pick the high seed and move on. There is no glass slipper hiding your bracket.
- Gut Feeling… Even if you’ve got the Ti-83+ running stats on your probability selections, there is always going to be that inkling to pick the low seed, a team no one has heard of or a school you were incepted by a highlighter party back in your glory days. There is no rhyme or reason, it just seems to be the right choice.
- Cinderella Story… The one no one expects. It’s the school that has probably never been to the tourney, it’s the high seed that stuns a couple of the big guns. It’s a risky move, but oh lordy if you’re right, you’ll be the MOFO P.I.M.P at least ’til the next round. And to date, the icon of the narrative is Florida Gulf Coast University, a #15 advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2013.
It’s easy to pick one of the regulars or any of the longstanding title winners like UCLA holding the more titles than any other at 11, followed by the University of Kentucky, UNC, Duke, and Indiana. But there is no sport in that or any possibility of talking a triceratops amount of shit when your underdog starts making moves towards Minneapolis. Take a chance with a few different brackets, and safety net with 1 and 2 seeds in the Final Four to prolong interest throughout the Madness. Even with the smallest amount of consideration, you can fill out a bracket in a matter of minutes and who knows, it could win you bragging rights for the next year or a cool $1 million in cash.
- No. 8 is the lowest seed to reach the championship game… and win. (Villanova, 1985).
- No one in the history of the tournament has picked a perfect bracket.
- The only #16 to upset a #1 is 2018’s University of Maryland–Baltimore County Retrievers over the University of Virginia.
- If anyone is taking side bets, what is the over-under of Zion blowing out another shoe?
Just Through it.