So it begins …
Companies across America have braced for increased paper use, bathroom breaks, and WiFi networks to begin crashing as employees print and check brackets at an obsessive rate while live streaming whatever game they want from their computers, tablets, and phones …
America will put aside the petty differences of politics, social standing, generally everything under the sun to watch the one thing that may be God’s gift to humanity.
As a matter of fact, the upcoming weekend is widely regarded as the best weekend of the year by most sports fans.
There will be 48 televised games over the course of four days.
There will be beatdowns as 1-seeds continue their perfect record against 16-seeds.
There will be upsets (look at 14s over threes and do at least one 12 over a five).
Cinderellas will rise.
Juggernauts will fall.
Buzzer beaters …
Tears will flow, hearts will break, brackets will be busted.
And I will love every second of it.
If you want to win your company/family/bar bracket pool, here are a few tips that you may want to take into consideration.
1. DO NOT TAKE A 16 SEED EVER! Over the years 1-seeds are 128-0 against their inferior opponents and this year will be no different.
2. Since seeding began in 1979, a 1-seed has made the Final Four on every occasion except 1980, 2006, and 2011, so don’t get cute and think that picking underdogs the entire way will help you win.
3. Only once (2008) have all four 1-seeds made it to the Final Four, so don’t do that either.
4. If you pick by color, pick blue. Twelve of the last 13 champions have worn blue as a primary color; the exception was 2013’s Louisville squad.
5. Despite what Bill Walton wants to say, the Pac-12 is not the “conference of champions” and has not produced one in 20 years. So as much fun as UCLA, Arizona, or Oregon may look, maybe avoid putting them as your champion.
6. Repeat tip 5 for any team from the Big 10. The only difference is that they won the tournament in 2000, but since then they have been power-5 choke artists.
7. As mentioned before, pick at least one 12-seed over a 5-seed (smart money is telling me that Middle Tennessee is a good one). In the last 16 tournaments at least one 12 has advanced past the first round every year except in 2007.
8. Find your Cinderella team, but don’t let her out too late. Generally the Sweet 16 is the furthest an underdog will make it.
9. Pick realistic upsets, and no, a 9 beating an 8 is not an upset. Popular (non-12 over 5) choices are Eastern Tennessee, New Mexico State, VCU, Rhode Island, Wichita State, and (for some reason) Northern Kentucky.
10. Have fun. This tournament is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it is something that unites us so enjoy it, because after it’s over we all go right back to what we were doing before.
My Final Four … Well, let’s just say that I’m not good at taking my own advice.
Josh’s prediction: Villanova, Notre Dame, Kansas, and North Carolina, with Villanova beating North Carolina for the second year in a row, final score 65-60.