It is March and the country is officially going mad for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. But sober thinking will be necessary when filling out your bracket, as there are too many common mistakes that can doom your chances of fill out a winning bracket this year.
Even fans that have been projecting winners and losers for decades are prone to rookie mistakes when entering a pool, and the best way to maximize your chances for success is simply to take your time and do your research.
The field is wide open this year, and there is no top team. Due to this, making correct predictions will be extremely difficult.
Here are a few things to avoid doing while making your picks.
Don’t Count on Freshmen
Experience becomes increasingly more important as the season goes on, and come tournament time, it is absolutely crucial.
The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are the exception to the rule, while the 2010 UK squad of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins is the norm.
March Madness is one of the great sporting spectacles, and players experiencing it for the first time are often not prepared. Being at the very top of your game for six straight contests is an incredibly difficult task, and one that isn’t usually completed on the first try.
Teams like UCLA and Oklahoma State, which rely heavily on Shabazz Muhammad and Marcus Smart, respectively, should not be chosen to make deep runs.
Don’t Pay Attention to the AP Poll
At this point in the season, the AP Top 25 poll is completely useless.
Before that, it was only mostly useless. With the No. 1 team losing nearly every week during the season, this rankings system is arbitrary and does not accurately shed light on where a team truly stands at the start of the tournament.
Also, pay attention to how a team finished the season. Wisconsin is heading into the tournament with momentum, and Michigan is not. This matters.
Don’t Be Charmed By the Blue Bloods
Once the teams start dancing, the names on their jerseys mean nothing. Teams such as Kansas and Duke are national powerhouses based on their success this year. Previous success does not add to their 2013 accomplishments at all.
UCLA’s 11 national championships do not change the fact that it relies heavily on freshman Shabazz Muhammad for points, and will have to lean on him even more now that Jordan Adams is out with a broken foot.
North Carolina is another one of the most storied programs in college basketball, but Michael Jordan won’t be hitting any game-winners for these Tar Heels. This year’s team lacks experience, chemistry and a legitimate star.
Only this year matters in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of how many banners a team has hanging from the rafters in its home arena.