March Into Madness

The chants of “Nova! Nova! Nova!” still ring in my my ears nearly a year later, remnants of the shot from Kris Jenkins that sank a lot of people who had North Carolina winning the National Championship in their brackets. I had already cried my tears when Kansas lost the week before, to that very same Nova team, so I wanted them to win just because I knew it would doom those who had UNC taking home the title.

That’s the glory of March Madness — the glory and the pain, all rolled into one. One minute your team is looking like worldbeaters, and the next they’re heading home, and your bracket is busted. Yet, every year, around this time, everyone is optimistic, hopeful that they’ve done enough to pick the right teams to make it to the championship game, and ultimately to emerge victorious in the final game of the college basketball season.

How do brackets work? It’s simple. All you have to do is pick the teams you think will win every single round, from the round of 64 down to the National Championship itself, then bite your fingernails as the games play out over the course of three weeks of… madness. Picking your bracket is a science that cannot be understated. It’s not good enough just to look at the number beside each team’s name and hope the higher seeds go through.

I always say “Do your homework.” That means know each team’s strengths and weaknesses. Know how they match up with other teams on their side of the bracket, and potential issues they might have — possible mismatches — if they advance to the next round(s). Check the Cinderellas, but don’t get too caught up in them, or if you like one don’t take them too far. Odds are they won’t make it past the one upset game you might have liked for them in the round of 64.

And most importantly, don’t overthink things. If it takes you too long to pick one game move on to the next one and come back to it. The longer you sit there hemming and hawing the more likely you will second guess yourself with the other picks you might have been solid on before. When in doubt, remember what your homework told you.

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday, and the field will finally be set for this year. Then bracket madness will begin. After the selection process ends I’ll post my preliminary bracket and explain the upsets I see happening in the round of 64. Time to March.

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