March Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament, is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year. Aside from furtively watching games on laptops, tablets, or phones during work, the most common way that people interact with the tournament is through the filling out of March Madness Brackets. Doing a bracket is a form of gambling. Before the tournament begins, a bunch of people get together and (usually using some web software) each predict what they think is going to happen in each of the 67 games during the tournament. Rules vary a little from one platform to another and one group to another, but generally you get points for correctly predicting the winner of a game and those points increase as the tournament goes on. For instance, you might get one point for predicting a game during the first round of the tournament but twenty points for getting the winner of a Final Four or semifinal game right. By and large, brackets are a fun way to get involved with the tournament. It keeps you interested in what’s happening and usually it’s not for enough money to be a problem if you lose.
To help prepare you to fill out a bracket this year, we thought we would explain some common, uncommon, serious, and frivolous ways to fill one out. So far we’ve covered chalk and telling a story. Now we’ll take a look at filling out a bracket in a completely frivolous way.
Here’s the thing about March Madness brackets. They are essentially random. Everyone has been in a bracket pool that ends up being won by someone who didn’t watch a single college basketball game all year and who chose teams based on something insane like proximity to Maryland or how many consonants their team nickname contains. This absolutely infuriates people who think of themselves as knowledgeable about college basketball AND who think that their knowledge should give them an edge over people who don’t take the bracket seriously. This year, why not be the person who doesn’t take it seriously — that way if you somehow end up with the best bracket, you not only win but you also drive your friends, family, or colleagues crazy. Here are a few ideas for guiding principles to a totally frivolous March Madness bracket.
What could be more ridiculous than choosing winners based on color? The thing is, choose the right color, and it’s just as likely to win as not. The best two colors to run with this year are blue and red. Blue is the overwhelming favorite with three of the top four seeds, Kentucky, Villanova, and Duke wearing blue. Red will get you the other one seed, Wisconsin as well as at least one two seed, Arizona. There simply aren’t enough of the other colors out there to make them a reasonable choice. Although it would be fun to do a bracket where you give preference to any color other than blue or red. I doubt that one would be successful, but it would, at least, be unique!
Team names are always fun to think about. I enjoy dividing the field up into categories and then choosing one or two to run with. This year’s favorite would definitely be cats, with three of the top ten teams Kentucky, Villanova, and Arizona all sharing the name of “Wildcats”. Other cat names in the field are the Northern Iowa Panthers, the Davidson Wildcats, the BYU Cougers, the Cincinattie Bearcats, the LSU Tigers, the Georgia State Panthers, the Lafayette Leopards, and the Texas Souther Tigers. Other popular categories of animals are dogs and birds. You could also probably build a good bracket by having just the non-cat/dog teams win. In this case your champion team could be the UC Irvine Anteaters, by far the best animal mascot in the tournament! Leaving the animal universe, you’ve got some historic names like the Robert Morris Colonials, Xavier Musketeers, and the Virginia Cavaliers, there are even a couple of meteorological forces like the St. John’s Red Storm and Iowa State Cyclones. Choose one category or a combination of categories and run with it.
Public vs. Private
We all have our biases when it comes to education. Did you go to a private school or a public school for high school? Still paying off a slew of loans from choosing a small liberal arts college or did you go to your state school? There’s plenty of both in this tournament, so why not use school type as your guide to picking wins? Up at the top of the bracket, going private will get you Duke, Villanova, and Gonzaga. Going public will leave you with Kentucky, Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, and Arizona. Good luck! As a tie-breaker, you could always use size of school. Go small for private and big for public when both the schools in a game are on one side.