Finally, the NCAA Tournament has arrived. It's one of the best sporting events of the year, mostly because of the first four days when there's nonstop action, plenty of upsets and the buzzer-beaters that make March Madness special.
For those people working toward a buzzer-beater of their own when it comes to getting a bracket submitted on time, here's a printable tournament bracket. Then follow along with all the action starting at 12 p.m. ET with the live bracket.
Furthermore, here are some tips for putting together the best bracket possible before the tourney gets underway. Although the odds of picking every game correctly are astronomical, these basic ideas should at least keep you in contention for awhile.
1. Use Betting Lines As Guide
Las Vegas doesn't like losing money. So don't shy away from using betting lines as a guide for the Round of 64, which are available for both Thursday and Friday. Although it only helps for the first full round of games, it's a great tool.
Perhaps the most important thing is the lines will help guide you toward the most likely upsets. A lot of people make underdog picks based on hours of bracket analysis on television, but that's risky because a case is made for just about every lower seed.
The betting lines are a lot more clear and concise. They should help make far more accurate Round of 64 picks. The more points you can stockpile in the early going, the more leeway your bracket will have later on. Don't throw away points.
2. Limit Underdog Risk
Everybody likes trying to identify an underdog team capable of making a deep run. That's especially true this year because the regular season was highlighted by countless upsets and no team stepping up to become an undisputed No. 1.
The most important thing to remember is that while lower-seed runs are fun to pick, chalk selections tend to win out over the course of the event. So don't go completely overboard when picking underdogs to make deep runs.
More specifically, avoid taking a team that's in a toss-up game in the Round of 64 to make the Final Four. Since there's a legitimate chance they won't even make it to the first weekend, picking them to reach Atlanta will likely destroy what could otherwise be a great bracket.
How confident are you in your bracket?
3. No Major Changes Late
For those people that already filled out their bracket and are considering a massive overhaul, don't do it. There's no reason to believe a new set of picks will outperform the ones you already made in a wild event like the NCAA Tournament.
The other major issue is the feeling of disappointment you would have if your original bracket does better than the reconstructed one, which is likely if you make rash changes. It's better to stick with the first attempt and hope it works out for the best.
The only possible exceptions for this rule are if you picked a double-digit seed to win the tournament and decided you actually want to have a chance to win. Or if you found out a key contributor for a team you have going a long way isn't playing.
Otherwise, stick with your first bracket and enjoy the action.
Follow all the exciting NCAA Tournament action with March Madness Live.