Bracketology 101: Common Bracket Methodologies

Jennifer TaglioneCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2009

Good morning class! Welcome to Stiletto Sports Bracketology 101! Like I said yesterday in our Intro to Bracketology course, there are 9.2 quintillion ways to fill out a bracket. Well, I think there are even more Bracketology 101 lists out there.

Everyone wants to throw in their two cents of things you should and shouldn't do when picking your teams. Some experts feel the methodology behind the bracket should be all about the stats and analyzing the data. Others use a methodology based solely on school colors and mascots.

There really is no right or wrong way to fill out a bracket. Here some of the most common ways to fill out your bracket

1. Stiletto Sports Method for Team Selection aka "Picks"

Personally, this is my favorite method because well, I created it, duh. This is a combination method that incorporates a lot of other methodologies already mentioned on this list. The official rulebook is my compilation of rules that I have developed and tested over the years for pretty high success rate. At first it may seem complicated, but it's actually a very easy method and very easily adaptable for most people.

2. The Statistical Method

The use of stats, figures, team records, histories, and player analysis to determine who will win each game. Widely used among high scholars and experts but also widely criticized and critiqued by peers. It is an "exact" scientific method that does not allow for factors like heart, passion, revenge, and luck, all of which can negate the statistical facts.

3. Mascot Bracketology

The study of each team's nickname and mascot and their relation to the team's chance of winning. For example, let's take this year's matchup in the West Region: No. 7 California v. No. 10 Maryland. California's nickname is the Golden Bears, and its mascot is Oski. Maryland's nickname, on the other hand, is the Terrapins, which is a fancy name for a turtle.

Clearly, a Golden Bear can kick a turtle's ass. However, there was that little story about a turtle that won the race in the end from its determined perseverance. Using the mascot method means carefully weighing all these key facts to determine which animal or figure has more potential.

For a complete list of this year's mascots and nicknames, see my Girl's Guide to NCAA Bracketology, which is broken down by region and matchups within each.

4. School Color-ology

The study of each team's school colors and jerseys and their relation to the team's chance of winning. Some experts feel Color-ology is very important when determining who will win each game. There is intense debate over whether a team with the colors black and red is more confident, powerful, and domineering than a team with the colors orange and white. This year's list of school colors can also be found in my Girl's Guide to Bracketology.

5. The Genealogical Method

The study of each team's notable alumni and famous figures and their bearing on the team's chance of winning. Some would be quick to point out that UNC is Michael Jordan's alma mater—who could possibly top that? Well, did you know that Madonna, Derek Jeter, and Michael Phelps all attended Michigan? Or that famous fashion god Salvatore Ferragamo went to USC?

These are all key components to the study of the school's genealogy. I've tried to name a few of the bigger names in my Girl's Guide to Bracketology.

6. Fan-ology

The study of each team's fan community and their relation to the team's chance of winning. Can any other fanbase top Duke's Cameron Crazies? What about the matchup of Stephen F. Austin's Purple Haze against the Orangemen of Syracuse? You can't fully understand the team without understanding its fans!

7. The Topology and Toponymics Method

This method involves the study of the location and name of each team's school and its relation to the team's chance of winning. Fans of this method pick teams based on the team's location or name and one's affinity for that locale.

For example, I hate Ohio, therefore I will not pick teams like Dayton, Ohio State, Akron, or Xavier to win because that would go against my methodology. I live in Florida and am from New York, so I feel inclined to pick FSU and teams like Syracuse and Siena to win.

8. The Hot Boy Method

Always a popular method, this method includes studying the players of each team. The team with the most hot boys wins!

9. Basketball Numerology

This method involves the study of team ranks and record to determine who will win. Fans of this method like to pick the team with highest rank or team with the most wins during the season to advance to the next round.

10. The Boyfriend/Boss/Family Member/Co-Worker/Best Friend Says So Method

This is a very simple method used in precarious situations when going against a fellow college basketball fan would cause serious distress to the relationship. In this instance it is often better to just go with their picks to preserve the friendships and relationships.

This method also works well when you truly do not know who to pick. It's like the phone-a-friend option on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

11. The Chaos Theory

This theory allows for the bracketeer to fill in the brackets with a certain level of reckless abandon. They believe nothing is for certain and anything can happen during the Madness. They often pick extreme upsets and have unique teams making it to the Final Four, yet still might pick two No. 1 seeds to make it to the championship game. They are crazy like that!

12. The Psychological Method

Psychology is the study of the mind, and in the psychological approach to bracketology, one bases their selection solely on mental and gut instincts. Before attempting this method, one must become in tune with the mind and body and allow themselves to listen to the inner voices. And not think they are crazy.


Congratulations! You have now passed Bracketology 101! Before filling out your brackets, however, we recommend you take Advanced Bracketology: Bracket Do's and Don'ts!


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