March Madness Predictions: The Art Of Picking a Perfect Final Four

Risking hyperbole, the worst thing the internet has ever done is ruin the art of filling out a paper NCAA Bracket. In today's modern world we can make our picks on our computers, on tablets, on our phones, and probably even on Google Glass. Like those who would rather hold real, paper pages in their hands to read a book rather than an e-Reader, I prefer to fill out my brackets manually, with scribbles, indecision, and, ultimately, regret instead of clicking each team that I think will advance.

I should note that I am not very good at filling out brackets. I am actually notoriously bad at filling out brackets. Ever since I correctly picked Ed O'Bannon and UCLA to win it all in 1995 to win my dad $50 in his work pool, my tournament picks have bordered on pathetic. I filled that UCLA bracket out in a bracket that was put together with dashes, underscores, and slash marks in Courier font. The rudimentary work was perfect:


Through all of my bad picks since the UCLA gem, I believe I have found a ton of strategies that can help in filling out a perfect bracket: 

1. Draw the names out of a hat

What I am trying to say here, is I have no idea what I'm doing. I watch games, I read about them, I even write about them, yet I have no idea what is going to happen. That's the beauty of it all. Drawing names out of a hat probably won't work wonders, but it will most likely work better than actually making a decision.

2. Pick based on what mascot you like more

What's a cooler mascot: The Catamounts or The Orange? If you liked the Catamounts, then you would have called the 2005 upset of Vermont over Syracuse. Sometimes it pays to go with the better mascot. However, this doesn't always work: consider that University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Fighting Pickles have never made the tournament (the fact that they have no basketball tournament doesn't help either).  

3. Don't listen to your heart

I have listened to my heart many times and told myself to pick Xavier to the Final Four because I like Skyline Chili and I love the X jerseys. Instead, it has led to disappointment through manyclose calls.

4. But do trust your gut

My gut is usually wrong, but spending too much time thinking about who is going to win the 8-seed/9-seed game is just a waste of energy that you're probably going to end up getting wrong anyways. If you're struggling to make a call, just go ahead and go with your gut. I spend far too much time going over stats to see who's going to win, and then I end up wrong 75% of the time anyways. 

5. Pick the higher seeds (most of the time)

But have fun living with yourself afterwards. Part of the fun of the tournament is cheering for the underdog. The other fun part for me is ripping my bracket up in disgust after the first weekend because it's pointless...

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Liam Boylan-Pett

Liam is a culture writing intern at PolicyMic. His work has appeared in "Running Times" and other running publications. He is also a professional middle-distance runner for the New Jersey-New York Track Club. After graduating from Columbia University with his bachelor's degree, he earned a Master's of Professional Studies in Journalism from Georgetown University. Originally from Bath, Mich, he spends his time watching TV, reading longform journalism, and thinking about who is going to be in the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four.

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