Have you done your brackets yet?
And if you work in the normal office, you've got the brackets floating about. Those innocent-looking sheets of paper that you fill in and for a slight fee, say five dollars, you get to submit your completed bracket in the hopes of winning the office pool and lording it over that asshole partner you work for who is absolutely convinced he's a genius when it comes to sports.
Well, I feel your pain and I'm here to help. Unlike most of the people in your office, I actually do watch a lot of college basketball, so I kind of actually know what I'm talking about. So just follow along with me and be prepared to collect your riches in early April.
1. Know this. You will not win your office pool. Some idiot who gets into it just for fun will win instead. This is fact. The bad news is that you lose. The good news is that the asshole you work for will also lose.
2. Nobody ever wins the office bracket challenge by playing the chalk. Most of the favorites will win their games, that's true. But it's the person who picks the key upsets, those upsets that generally destroy the brackets of most everybody at the firm, who wins.
3. That means you have to pick a few upsets along the way. And believe it or not, there are actually easy upsets to pick every year. Once or twice a tournament, a five seed is upset by a 12 seed. So this year, the five seeds are West Virginia, Arizona, Vanderbilt and Kansas State. One of these teams will lose. You nail the correct game, you're on your way. And personally, I've picked Memphis to beat Arizona and Utah State to defeat Kansas State.
4. Don't go overboard with the upset picks because, for the most part, the favorites win. So never pick the 16 seed to beat the number one seed. Since the advent of the 1/16 match-up, no one seed has ever lost. Be very careful about picking a 15 seed to beat the two seed. However, there's always a good chance that at least one three seed will lose, as will at least one four seed.
5. Never, ever, pick Kansas to win the tournament. Because it's when you pick Kansas to win the tourney that they get their asses kicked on the first weekend. Bastards.
Kansas will find a way to screw your bracket
7. Avoid the color orange. That's the color of the Texas Longhorns, and the only thing they do during the tournament is to go down in flames year after year. Speaking of which, I don't think the Horns make it to the weekend this year.
8. Do not pick Duke. The primary reason isn't because they're not good, but that maybe, if they lose, Dick Vitale will shut up about how great everything associated with Duke is.
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9. If there's going to be a lower seed school that will end up getting deep in the tournament, it is Michigan State. The Spartans didn't have their best season in recent memory this season, but head coach Tom Izzo has proven, year after year, that he's perhaps the best coach in the country when it comes to getting his team prepped and ready to go come tourney time.
10. And one final thing: You should probably ignore everything I say when it comes to filling out your bracket because I always lose. Always. That's probably related to the fact that, no matter what I tell myself, I always, always, always pick Kansas to win the title, and always, always, always they find a way to screw me over. And for that occasional year that I don't pick Kansas, well that's the year they win the whole damn thing. Bastards.
11. Now, so that you can set your brackets and avoid my pain, here is my Final Four: Louisville, who I think is severely underrated, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and San Diego State -- just because that means they got past Duke, and I don't like Duke.