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Tips on how to pick a winning 2011 March Madness tournament bracket

NCAA March Madness: The Greatest Moments of the NCAA Tournament
NCAA March Madness: The Greatest Moments of the NCAA Tournament

With March Madness just a few weeks away, office workers everywhere are starting to frantically look for anything that could give them an edge in filling out a winning tournament bracket.

At lot of the information Web Watch has posted about HOW TO PICK A WINNING BRACKET and MORE TIPS ON FILLING OUT YOUR BRACKET is still valid, so be sure to read those handy tips as you gear up to play some hoops madness (we’d post it all here again, but just didn’t want to repeat ourselves).

But having more information than less is always a good thing to have, so after you’ve read what worked for you last year, take a look at some more of these tips to help you win the office pool next month:

  • When it comes to the rounds after the Sweet Sixteen, DON’T WORRY ABOUT SEEDINGS. If a team is able to make it past the first rounds, what their seeding is doesn’t matter anymore when considering the matchups. Researchers said that in the Elite 8 round and later, the games are basically a coin flip — but that you certainly should still consider the seedings in the beginning of the tournaments.
  • DON’T RANDOMLY FILL OUT YOUR GRID. A trained monkey could do that, and may even do better than you. There are over 18 quintillion different variations on the grids if you fill them out without any thought whatsoever. Make it easy on yourself — pick at least one of the number one seeds to make it to the Final Four… or any of the tips in those previous articles.
  • Haven’t done any research yet on the top teams this year? You may not have missed the boat entirely. For the past few years, researchers at Georgia Tech have successfully used a computer program called LRMC to determine who the top NCAA Tournament Teams have been. Though the basketball season isn’t over yet and the seedings established, if you’re one who likes to deeply analyze team stats and individual players, you may want to start LOOKING AT THESE TOP NCAA TEAMS:
    1. Duke
    2. Ohio State
    3. Kansas
    4. Texas
    5. Washington
    6. BYU
    7. Pittsburgh
    8. San Diego State
    9. Purdue
    10. Kentucky
    11. Wisconsin
    12. Belmont
    13. Arizona
    14. North Carolina
    15. Georgetown
    16. Vanderbilt
    17. Villanova
    18. Illinois
    19. Syracuse
    20. St Mary’s
  • Other TOURNAMENT ANALYSIS has Kansas taking it all, with Pittsburgh, Georgetown, San Diego, and Florida also in contention

And don’t forget that there’s now an “extra” first round of play in the tournament this year.

Previously, you’d get the brackets online on Sunday night (or in the newspaper that Monday morning) and have until Thursday noon to fill out your brackets and get them in to your pool manager.

Now, with the extra “first round” in play to bring an extra 4 teams into the mix, you’re going to have to get your brackets in on Tuesday, two days earlier, to be able to include those new qualifying rounds.  Oh yes, it was so much easier when there was just one play-in game, wasn’t it?  You could just choose “play-in team” on the grid to lose in the first round to the #1 seed.  It was an automatic pick

Now, not so much.  68 teams instead of 64 makes for weird bracket setups.   Which is why some BRACKET POOL websites are not bothering to include the new Round 1 games on their brackets, and are simply substititing “Play In Game Winner” in all appropriate spots.  Web Watch agrees this is the simplest way to deal with the problem, and gives us back those extra two days to get our grids in place.

So now that we have a plan in place for which teams to do more research on, and how we’re going to do our bracket, keep in mind the following seed results from history:

  • The lowest seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen?  #14.
  • The lowest seed to advance to the Elite Eight?  #12
  • The lowest seed to advance to the Final Four? #11
  • The lowest seed to advance to the Championship Game?  #8

Yeah, we know we told you to ignore seedings deep in the tournament earlier.  Something tells us that if you filled out your opening rounds correctly, these “lowest seeds” won’t be a problem for you.