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NCAA Bracket 2017: Tips, Info and More for Top March Madness Games

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2017

Mar 4, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forwards Isaiah Hicks (4) and Kennedy Meeks (3) and Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) fight for the rebound. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 90-83 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Don't be that person.

You know who they are. The one who automatically slots every No. 1 seed into the Final Four...and then brags about it. Or the one who picks every upset imaginable. Or, worst of all, the one who—dun, dun, dun—leaves blanks in their bracket.

Selection Sunday is coming, friends. Now is the time to brush up on your college hoops knowledge before putting lead (or ink) to your NCAA tournament bracket.  

Below are some tips and games to cross your fingers we see.

Schedule

EventLocationDate
Selection SundayN/AMarch 12
First FourDayton, OhioMarch 14-15
First/SecondBuffalo, New YorkMarch 16 & 18
First/SecondMilwaukeeMarch 16 & 18
First/SecondOrlando, FloridaMarch 16 & 18
First/SecondSalt Lake CityMarch 16 & 18
First/SecondGreenville, South CarolinaMarch 17 & 19
First/SecondIndianapolisMarch 17 & 19
First/SecondTulsa, OklahomaMarch 17 & 19
First/SecondSacramento, CaliforniaMarch 17 & 19
Midwest RegionalKansas City, MissouriMarch 23 & 25
West RegionalSan Jose, CaliforniaMarch 23 & 25
South RegionalMemphis, TennesseeMarch 24 & 26
East RegionalNew YorkMarch 24 & 26
Final FourPhoenixApril 1 & 3
NCAA.com

More information about seeding and the schedule can be found here.

Tips

Steer clear of the 16-seeds

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25: Josh Hart #3, Darryl Reynolds #45, and Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrate with the regular season Big East Conference trophy at the end of the game against the Creighton Bluejays at the Pavilion on February
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It's never happened. A bottom-seeded team has never knocked off a top dog in the Big Dance. Why should you expect it this year?

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Villanova Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Gonzaga Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels as his top seeds. The UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks figure to warrant consideration, too.

Are you really trusting the likes of North Dakota Fighting Hawks with your bracket?

The numbers say you shouldn't. Not only have the No. 16s gone winless; according to OddsShark, they've seldom kept things respectable. Since 2001, a bottom seed has stayed within 10 points just five times.

Plus, No. 1 seeds have won 20 national titles since 1985. In the past 12 seasons, eight winners have been top seeds.

Don't be afraid to predict an early upset, as those can be the sweetest to hit on. Just don't pick a No. 16 over a No. 1.

Roll with the seniors

Freshmen are definitely fun.

Everybody wants to talk about UCLA star guard Lonzo Ball nowadays, for example. But when it comes time for March Madness, hitch your wagon to the upperclassmen.

TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins on the bench during the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on February 25, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats 77-72.  (Photo by Christian
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Here's what Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after his team escaped No. 13 North Carolina-Wilmington in last year's opening round, 93-85, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

You know, we have three kids who are 18 years old, so I know they may be talented, but they're 18. I heard about McDonald's All-American. We won because we had a 23-year-old: Marshall [Plumlee]. These other kids are developing players. And the NCAA, especially this season, has been old.

Two of Villanova's top three scorers, for example—Josh Hart (senior), Jalen Brunson (sophomore), Kris Jenkins (senior)—are seniors. That's the kind of team you'll want to roll with.

When scouring the bracket for potential upsets, don't undervalue experience. Underclassmen have a way of shrinking when the lights are at their brightest. It can take one of those failures to coarsen them for the next pressure-packed moment.

Here are some teams, all listed as "in" according to Lunardi, loaded with upperclassmen:

TeamAmount of seniorsProjected seed
Dayton78
Princeton713
Butler63
VCU69
CBS Sports

Note: CBS Sports provided a full list of teams, sortable by amount of freshman and seniors.

Of course, it's important to factor juniors, and even experienced sophomores, into the equation. But don't hesitate to trust the seniors.

Dream matchups

Kansas-Wichita State

Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are gone, but it'll always be fun watching the "little brother" Wichita State Shockers take on the big kahunas of the Sunflower State.

Louisville-Kentucky

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

"The battle for the Bluegrass" is easily one of the most intense matchups in sports.

The Rick Pitino-ignited feud has seen the Kentucky Wildcats, his former employer, win four of the last five matchups over his Louisville Cardinals, including a 2012 Final Four showdown en route to a national title. According to Big Blue History, that was their first March Madness meeting since 1984.

We're due for another.

Duke-North Carolina

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 21:  Rick Pitino the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals and John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats talk before the game at KFC YUM! Center on December 21, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Get
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels knocked off the Duke Blue Devils, 90-83, on Saturday. It was the latest close call in what's been an unfathomably close rivalry:

UNC Humor @UNC_Humor

The last 98 games between UNC and Duke: UNC: 49 wins, 7605 points Duke: 49 wins, 7606 points Greatest rivalry in sports.

Note: Stat first appeared on SportsCenter via @ESPNStatsInfo.

There's no bigger stage than March Madness, and there's no better rivalry than Duke-UNC. Keep your fingers crossed.

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