March Madness 2015: Don’t Get Bounced From Your NCAA Tournament Pool

Written by Rodney Campbell

Play to win. Play well with others. Don’t get all bunched up about your bracketing. Sound like a plan?

rodney-campbellaNewDomain — If you’re like millions of fans across America, you are sweating it out getting your NCAA Tournament bracket completed in time for the start of March Madness 2015 on Tuesday. So many teams, so many matchups, so many upsets, so many possibilities.

Before you get started, you need to know a few simple rules that will keep your bracket from getting busted during the first week.

Some are time-honored and others are particular to this year.

Read on and be prepared for three weeks of the kind of thrills and excitement that only the NCAA Tournament ala March Madness 2015 can bring. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you had a little extra cash in your pocket at the end?

Don’t be a homer

Say you’re a fan of Brigham Young or UCLA. Your team is lucky to be in the field. BYU is having to take part in a play-in game. UCLA’s quality wins could be counted on less than one hand. Do you really think your team is going to advance past the first weekend? No chance. Be realistic and use a little common sense. Otherwise, your pool will be over just like your team’s season.

Don’t be a hater

Can’t stand Duke or Kentucky? Join the crowd. People from outside Durham, N.C. and Lexington, Ky. have made hating those teams a lifestyle. But that shouldn’t give you the inspiration to pick either to fall out in an upset before the Elite Eight. Kentucky, in particular, has what appears to be an easy road to the Final Four. Duke has won four national titles. Yeah, we know you don’t like them. Just don’t pick against them out of spite or you’ll suffer the consequences.

Want to sneak up on the field? Don’t take Kentucky to win it all.

You should pick the Wildcats to reach the Final Four. They went undefeated after all, although that perfect record came in a football conference. The fact is there are two teams in the West Regional, Arizona and Wisconsin, that could give Kentucky a tough time once the tournament shifts to Indianapolis. Most everyone is going with the Wildcats to hoist the nets April 6. Zig when they zag.

Don’t go with the chalk

Not every top seed with make it to the final weekend. While Kentucky appears to be safe, you can bet that Duke, Villanova or Wisconsin will fall out somewhere along the way. Wisconsin, in particular, will have a rough road with second seed Arizona or third seed Baylor standing in their path.

Pick at least one No. 12 seed to win in the first round

It’s a well-known tradition that a 12th seed will knock off a fifth. Over the past three tournaments, No. 12 seeds are 8-4 in their first-round games. The last time No. 5 seeds swept their way through the opening round was 2007. That means Buffalo (against West Virginia), Wofford (versus Arkansas), Wyoming (against Northern Iowa) and Stephen F. Austin (versus Utah) have to be licking their chops to get started this week.

But don’t get too crazy with the upsets

While a team seeded seventh or worse has made the Sweet 16 every year since 1995, not many end up winning it all. Check out the last 11 national champs: Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, Florida (again), Kansas, North Carolina (again), Duke, Connecticut (again), Kentucky, Louisville, Connecticut (yes, again). Notice a trend? Not a whole lot of lightweights in that crowd. This season, more than ever, points to another name program taking home the title.

Don’t rely too much on the ‘experts’

This has been my downfall too many times. ESPN has turned bracketology into a season-long obsession. Problem is there are so many voices and so many underdogs being promoted as contenders that it’s easy to escape reality. If you don’t start paying attention to college basketball until March, it’s probably best to stay out of the NCAA Tournament pools unless you don’t mind losing.

Keep your composure

If you tend to get a little worked up when money is on the line, go with a $5 pool so you won’t miss your cash too much if you lose. The NCAA Tournament is all about having fun and enjoying the best college basketball has to offer. No one likes a sore loser.

And if all else fails, form your own women’s tournament pool.

For aNewDomain, I’m Rodney Campbell.