Three hours until tip off of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Today launches two of the most unproductive work days of the year. I’ve already completed and posted my women’s picks yesterday. The men’s bracket is more of a challenge. In the women’s game, the difference between the best and worst teams is much greater than in the men’s game. That fact makes the men’s brackets more difficult to choose, as more teams have a chance to upset higher seeded teams.
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There are really four strategies you can follow in doing your brackets. The first strategy is just to pick the higher seed and let the lesser teams get washed out and separated. There are always going to be upsets, but how do you decided which high seed is vulnerable? You don’t. Let the law of averages rule overrule luck.
The second strategy is to pick which teams will be upset in which rounds. Play the hot hand, requires some working knowledge of which teams are peaking going into the tournament and which teams are upstart enough to engineer an upset.
The third strategy is to find an expert’s brackets and choose those picks. The ESPN experts picks. Leverage their knowledge and exposure to the game to make your picks. You might even do well with this strategy if you want to win the office basketball pool. It’s not sexy, nor a challenge, but it seems better than the last strategy – what I call the women’s pick. Pick by favorite team, mascot names, colors, and allegiances. This is the most random of all methods, but one that seems to produce a winner on rare occasion. Even resourceful women ask their men to make their picks, but those who opt to make their own, good luck!
So, for those who exercise the choose the experts picks, here are my picks. Good luck if you decide to use these picks. If you win anything, I want my cut of the payout:
First round winners:
Midwest Region: Louisville, Ohio State, Arizona, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Kansas, USC, Michigan State
West Region: Connecticut, Texas A&M, Purdue, Washington, Marquette, Missouri, Maryland, Memphis
East Region: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Florida State, Xavier, UCLA, Villanova, Texas, Duke
South Region: North Carolina, LSU, Illinois, Gonzaga, Arizona State, Syracuse, Clemson, Oklahoma
Sweet 16: Louisville, Wake Forest, Kansas, Michigan State, Connecticut, Washington, Marquette, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Florida State, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Oklahoma
Final 4: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina
National Championship Game: Louisville vs. North Carolina
National Championship: Louisville
I wrestled back and forth between Louisville and North Carolina before choosing Louisville. This is, perhaps, Rick Pitino’s best team at Louisville and they look poised for a run all the way. I thought going into the tournament that the two teams that the biggest chips on their shoulders would be Louisville and Memphis. The arguments against Memphis always starts and ends with their soft conference schedule. I think Memphis is one of the 4 best teams in the country. I just hope they prove me correct in this tournament.
There are the picks, and with more than an hour to spare. Check back often, as I will update my progress after each round.