There is no doubt this is an exciting time of the year for basketball fans. On a scale of 1-10, I give the first 4 days of the tournament a solid 9.5. There is just nothing else like it. There is even a feeling of depression when it comes to an end. For me the combination of thrilling basketball, the tournament aspect and choosing brackets, and constant action all make this time of year joyful. There is a huge level of difference in watching collegiate athletes put their hearts on the line compared to NBA players who go home with fat paychecks. That is what truly makes this tournament the best basketball there is.
With that little build up, we find ourselves amidst the few days you have to study and do some research for the brackets. My first thought it that no matter how much research you do, games won’t play out like you think. There is just too much unpredictability in this environment. However, I believe there are a few things to look for when choosing teams to make deep runs. I also want to point out that in no way to I consider myself a master, just a gambler.
How did the team fair in it’s conference tournament? I like picking teams that are winning games late in the season. Records mean nothing, it’s how well is the team gelling towards the end. People can argue that players can be tired after playing all these games but I just don’t buy it. These are collegiate athletes, not over the hill veterans.
What is the team’s seniority level? Seniors tend to lay it all on the line because it’s their last shot. They will also have more experience which can come in handy.
Are they a good Free Throw shooting team? I was watching the 30 on 30 last night on NC States improbable run to the title in 1983 and every team they faced blew foul shots at the end of the game. One easy way to let teams back in the game in missing foul shots.
Does the team have a superstar? Big players step up in these types of tournaments. I think it’s fine to have a well rounded team but when it comes down to crunch time, you need a player to make some shots.
Pick against the herd. If you are in a group with 100+ entries, it’s too hard to pick a perfect bracket while choosing the odds on favorite to win it all. It can be better to stray off the beaten path and choose a team like Florida or Miami to win it all. This way if it happens, you lock it up instead of getting nicked out at the end by others who chose the favorite.
I’m sure I’ll make another post after putting some time looking at the teams but this is my general guideline for what to look for. Bracket can be found here.