With the 2012 NCAA tournament just hours away from tipping off, the excitement over March Madness is only quelled by the urge to fill out brackets.
Before you turn your final bracket in to the office-pool manager, it’s time to break down the keys to not coming in dead last. We can’t promise you success because it’s an absolute crapshoot, but we can help you get into position not to look like a buffoon.
All of the following are tips you can take to the bank—metaphorically at least.
Printable Bracket here.
10. Get Your Bracket In on Time
I know that this sounds simple and easy, but you would be surprised how many people procrastinate to the point that they miss the opening games. Factor in the new first-round play-in system, and the clock is already ticking on the selection process. Forget Selection Sunday, fans should have selection Monday.
9. Don’t Pick a 16th Seed
Just so you don’t lose your mind and take one of the 16th seeds to upset a No. 1, the No. 16 team is 0-for-108 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. If that’s not a lead-pipe lock, nothing is!
8. The 5-12 Upset
Of all the places on the bracket to go with upsets, it always seems to fall on the shoulders of the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup. This year will be no different, as I could see Long Beach State, VCU, the winner of California vs. South Florida and Harvard all beating their respective No. 5 seeds.
7. Travel Factor
While the locations of these games are meant to be neutral, they are much closer to some schools than others. Look for teams like West Virginia, who will be playing 60 minutes from their home arena, to have the advantage over a team like Gonzaga that has to travel from the West Coast.
6. Dreaded 8-9 Matchups
While every season is spent sweating these picks more than any other, the outcome is just 57-51 in favor of the No. 8 seed. This is one of the times when allowing a chicken or an octopus to make your selections can be more effective than doing it yourself based on reason and game film.
5. Overrated Teams to Avoid
Michigan: With a solid year, the Wolverines have yet to prove themselves against stiff competition. Even if they move past the Ohio Bobcats, they will get squashed in the third round.
Georgetown: Upsets all over the board give Belmont a chance in the second round or the winner of NC State vs. San Diego State an easy third-round opponent.
Notre Dame: Stay clear of a fighting Irish team that has only averaged 56.2 points in last five games.
4. Underrated Teams to Ride
Memphis: The young Memphis Tigers come into this tournament on fire, but they will be tested early and often. If they get on a roll, watch out.
Florida State: The Seminoles proved to the tournament that they are the real deal by beating North Carolina and winning the ACC tournament.
Iona: The top-scoring team in the nation snuck into the NCAA tournament and now looks to put on a scoring display that most big-name schools never see. They could be very dangerous if shots start falling.
3. Elite Eight
Syracuse vs. Florida State
UNC vs. North Carolina State
Memphis vs. Missouri
Kentucky vs. Duke
2. Final Four
Florida State vs. North Carolina State
Kentucky vs. Missouri
1. 2012 National Champions: Florida State Seminoles
Florida State vs. Kentucky
Check back for more on NCAA Basketball as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s College Basketball Page to get your fill of college basketball.