NCAA Bracket 2011: 10 Things To Remember When Filling Out Your Bracket

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2011

NCAA Bracket 2011: 10 Things To Remember When Filling Out Your Bracket

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    March Madness is exactly what it sounds like—It’s a mad dash by 68 teams to compete for a National Championship.

    Every year, we see dominant play by top seeds as well as some memorable upsets by lower-seeded teams.

    It’s important to understand the history of the NCAA Tournament when filling out your bracket.

    There are some games you simply can’t bet against while others are open to heated debate.

    Here are 10 things to keep in mind when filling out your bracket (if you haven’t done so already).

10. Remember Key Injuries

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    Always look up key injures before filling out your bracket.

    Losing an impact player late in the season can be detrimental to a team’s tournament success.

    The St. John’s Red Storm will be without D.J. Kennedy, while Florida State still is uncertain about the status of Chris Singleton who made third team All-ACC.

    Kentucky may be without two key players, DeAndre Liggins and Doron Lamb. Lamb injured his ankle late in Kentucky’s SEC semifinal win over Alabama when the Wildcats were already up big. He probably should have been on the bench. He did return for the SEC Championship and scored six points in limited minutes.

    Playing at less than full strength can severely hurt a team—but it can also inspire a team—so be sure you research injuries before filling out your bracket.

9. 5-12 Upsets

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    Of all the possible upsets, the 5-12 upset always seems like a popular pick.

    For this year’s bracket, don’t fall into that trap.

    Arizona looks like a good pick over Memphis in the West; Kansas State seems like the logical choice over Utah State in the Southwest; and West Virginia shouldn’t have a problem with the winner of UAB and Clemson.

    No. 12 seeded Richmond may be the best bet if you want to include at least one 5-12 upset. The Spiders won the Atlantic-10 championship and are on a hot streak coming into the tournament. They take on Vanderbilt in the first round.

8. Look out for Hot Teams

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    Like Richmond, hot teams coming into the tournament are always a good bet.

    Teams that limped into the tournament (Villanova) will really have to dig deep to earn some victories.

    San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now, so put your faith in the Aztecs.

    Momentum is a huge factor, especially when any team can beat any other team on any given day at any location.

7. Pick at Least One Low-Seeded Team to Advance

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    Since the field was expanded to 64 teams (and now it’s 68), a No. 13 or lower seed has upset a top seed 43 times.

    I’d say that’s a good enough clip to pick at least one of these upsets.

    Princeton and Belmont could be the best bets to be giant-killers in the first round.

    Princeton takes on injury-laden Kentucky, while Belmont will face Wisconsin.

6. Pick at Least One No. 1 Seed to Make Final Four

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    Definitely pick at least one No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four. This seems rather obvious, but it’s also backed up by history.

    Only twice since 1979 have zero No. 1 seeds made the Final Four. Those years were 1980 and 2006.

    With Duke, Ohio State, Kansas and Pittsburgh as this year’s No. 1 seeds, it’s a safe bet that at least one will make the Final Four.

5. Be Daring

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    If you have a hunch with a team you’ve watched all season, don’t be afraid to go with it.

    There is usually at least one surprise team that caps off a few improbable upsets en route to an Elite Eight or even Final Four bid.

    Upsets do happen, and you can only call those upsets if you’re daring enough to do so.

4. Be Wary with Final Four Selections

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    While it’s always a good idea to be daring, don’t take it too far.

    Only twice since 1979 has a No. 11 seed or lower made the Final Four. LSU reached the Final Four as an 11 seed in 1986, while George Mason accomplished the same feat in 2006.

    Maybe a middle-of-the-pack team has what it takes to make a formidable charge, but the lower-ranked seeds are there for a reason. They’ve played well enough to earn a tournament berth, but they don’t stack up to the NCAA powerhouses.

3. Never Pick a No. 16 to Upset a No. 1

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    In the history of the tournament, a No. 16 seed has never upset a No. 1 seed.

    Don’t expect that trend to change this year.

    Duke should knock off Hampton; Ohio State shouldn’t have a problem with the winner of UT-San Antonio and Alabama State; Kansas should make easy work of Boston University; and Pittsburgh should emerge victorious over the winner of NC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock.

    Of course, an upset is possible, but it would be a bold move to predict something that has never happened before, especially with the favorable matchups the No. 1 seeds have this week.

2. Never Pick All Four No. 1 Seeds to Reach Final Four

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    Many “bracketeers” fall into the trap of picking all four No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four. They figure that these teams are ranked No. 1 because they’re the best in the bracket.

    While this is true, only once have all four No. 1 seeds reached the Final Four, and it was only three years ago when Kansas, Memphis, UCLA and UNC all reached the Final Four in 2008.

    Once again, this year’s No. 1 seeds are all strong, but so are the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds as well as a possible lower-seeded option.

    Mix it up and try to sprinkle in at least one No. 2 seed or your hunch team into your Final Four.

1. Likelihood of a Repeat Is Unlikely

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    The probability of repeating a National Championship is incredibly slim. Therefore, be wary when picking Duke as this year’s champion.

    Since 1939, a team had repeated a National Championship just eight times. Keep in mind that six of those eight times came before the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1979.

    Duke (1990-1991) and Florida (2006-2007) are the only teams to win back-to-back championships.

    While Duke looks very strong again this year, odds are that a repeat champion is unlikely.