2011 NCAA Tournament: 10 Mistakes Everyone Is Making, but You Shouldn't

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMarch 17, 2011

2011 NCAA Tournament: 10 Mistakes Everyone Is Making, but You Shouldn't

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    The 2011 NCAA Tournament is underway, as every body's brackets are getting their first tests.

    In the 72 year history of March Madness, nobody is on record as having filled out a perfect bracket.But for those who are hoping to get a near-perfect bracket, there is a lot of strategy involved.

    While teams with higher seedings typically make it further than teams with lower seedings, this is just one of many other factors that come into play.

    Here are ten mistakes to avoid.

10. Picking No Upsets

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    Although it may seem like the practical choice to always choose the team with the higher seed, many upsets occur during March Madness every year.

    There has been just one year (2008), in which every No. 1 seed made the Final Four, and we even saw George Mason make the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2006. 

    Seeding is most relevant when a top four seed or a bottom four seed is involved. Aside from that, seeing is overrated. In fact, the No. 12 seed has beaten the No. 5 seed about a third of the time.

9. Bias Towards Your Favorite Teams

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    It can be difficult to pick your team to lose in any stage of the tournament.

    However, for those trying to win their bracket, it is best to be a realist instead of an optimist. Too many fans pick their teams to pull of two or three upsets, which rarely works out.

8. Picking No. 8 Seeds over No. 9 Seeds

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    Oftentimes, the committee matches up a mediocre big conference team, as the No. 8 seed, against a very good mid-major team, which has not been favorable to the No. 8 seed.

    In fact, history has shown that No. 9 seeds have beaten the No. 8 seeds about 55 percent of the time.

7. Bias Towards Teams with Superstars

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    Fans love superstars, but superstars don't always lead their teams to glory.

    Pont guard Jimmer Fredette has almost singlehandedly put BYU on the map with an outstanding offensive season, in which he is averaging 28.5 points per game. 

    However, one player can only take a team so far. Many people have BYU beating Pittsburgh in the Elite 8 this season, which is unlikely given Pittsburgh’s depth and  experience.

6. Picking Big name Schools

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    When filling out your bracket, it can be almost instinctual to pick the team that sounds most familiar. After all, familiarity breeds liking. 

    However, just because a team has won championships in the past, it does not mean that their current squad has any resemblance to some of their school’s greatest teams from many years ago. 

    This season, despite No. 7 seed UCLA having somewhat of a down year, a lot of people have them advancing to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, presumably because of what they have done in the past

5. Looking Too Far into Obama's picks

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    Since Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the media has captured his predictions each year. Obama is certainly a knowledgeable college basketball fan, but the public has seemed to look too far into Obama’s picks, even filling out nearly identical brackets to the President.

    While Obama may watch Sportscenter regularly, it is ridiculous to view him as a college basketball expert, especially considering that there is absolutely no way that he has the time to follow the sport for more than a handful of hours per week.

4. Picking Too Many Upsets

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    While history has shown that a number of upsets occur every year, they can be few and far between.

    It is rare, for example, that a team seeded No. 13 or worse pulls off an upset, let alone multiple upsets, Also worth mentioning, only one team seeded below No. 5 has made the Final Four in the last ten years. 

3. Choosing Teams That Have Done Well in Recent Years

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    Both Gonzaga and Memphis had many great seasons in the 2000s decade, winning a bunch of tournament games and putting their schools on the map. 

    However, neither Gonzaga nor Memphis has talent anywhere close to the level of what it had in years past. Those filling out brackets must remember that college basketball teams can improve or decline dramatically in just a few years. 

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2. Bias Towards Schools That Finished the Season Well

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    One question that people tend to ask themselves when filling out their bracket is, what have you done for me lately? While this is a valid question, it tends be an exaggerated indication of a team’s future success. 

    We were all impressed with Connecticut’s historic run of five wins in five days to win the Big East tournament, but this does not take away the fact that Connecticut was a far from impressive 9-9 against the conference during the regular season.

1. Overrating the Big East

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    Over the last several years, the Big East has consistently gotten the most teams into the tournament, highlighted by 11 March Madness bound teams this season.

    However, this does not necessarily mean that the Big East is the best conference, nor does it mean that it has the best teams. After all, the Big East has produced just five Final Four teams in the last six years, none of whom made it to the championship game.