We all know a couple of office pool March Madness strategies. There's the "always pick higher seed," and who could forget the "all upsets." But these are obviously flawed.
The way most brackets are won is actually by the person who picks the unlikely team who is absolutely on fire throughout the tournament and that most people didn't pick. So you expected Duke to go far last year. The problem is, so did everyone else. But say you thought Butler would make a deep run last year. They weren't a very low seed, but that would still have been a very unexpected pick. That alone could have easily won both your pool and bragging rights over your buddies.
Here's some tips to picking this year's Butler:
Look behind the record: A great example of this is San Diego State. If you are blindly following the record, you'll see their 32 wins and assume they are an easy pick against 26-9 Connecticut in the third round. But what this doesn't show you is that UConn may be the hottest team in the NCAA right now, coming off a five wins in five days remarkable Big East conference run, beating some of the best teams in the tournament on the way (Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville).
And San Diego State’s 32-2 record came in the cushy Mountain West conference, which has less total teams than the Big East put in the tournament this year. Look for the red-hot Huskies to make some noise.
Don’t rely on the seed: Generally excluding the No. 14, No. 15 and No. 16 seeds, think of seeds as just a means to determine the schedule. Things do change with teams late in the season.
Just several weeks ago, Brigham Young was one of the nation's top teams. But with the recent suspension of their No. 2 player, Brandon Davies, they are now looking like Jimmer Fredette may not be able to carry this team by himself. BYU was 27-2 with Davies. Without him, they are 3-2, with both an 18-point loss to lowly New Mexico and a thrashing by San Diego State in the conference final. They beat SDSU by 13 just two weeks earlier (with Davies).
While many people will see the seed and unthinkingly peg BYU for a Sweet 16 run, look deeper. While they shouldn’t have much trouble against Wofford, their third-round game could be a little more interesting.
The South bracket also has many other holes, such as a top seed who was knocked out early in their conference final and an overrated No. 2 seed in Florida.