Friday, March 13, 2009

Brackets and Basketball

It’s official, March Madness has finally arrived and will be here to stay for the next 3 weeks. These 3 weeks will be filled full of awesome basketball games, intriguing story lines, incredible upsets, fantastic finishes, buzzer beaters, great announcers (Gus Johnson), and “Cinderella” stories. I look forward for these 3 weeks all year long and love to see the day when the brackets are released.

On Sunday March 15th the field of 65 teams for the NCAA tournament will be announced and where they will be seeded along with whom, where, and when they will be playing. 32 games are planned to be played at various locations throughout the US on Thursday March 19th and Friday March 20th for what constitutes the 1st round of the tournament. The second round will feature the winners playing each other on Saturday March 21st and Sunday March 22nd to take the field of 64 teams down to the “Sweet Sixteen” teams. These teams play each other until they get to the “Elite Eight”, the “Final Four”, and then the Championship game to see who is crowned the champions of NCAA Division I basketball.

Each year I fill out a bracket for the tournament, which for those who don’t know is basically the format of all the games to be played in the first round. You start with all the games in the first round and then you guess the winners of that round and write in those teams and then keep guessing the games until all t first round projected winners are determined. You then take all of these teams and project the winners for the second round and so on until you reach the final round which is the 6th round. You gain points by picking games correctly and the higher the rounds the bigger the points earned. You then join with a group of other players and compete against one another.

If you have never filled out a bracket and watched the tournament then you need to try it this year. It is easy to do, lots of fun, and puts much more excitement into the games that are on.

If you do try filling out a bracket this year, here a few of my own personal tips to help you do well (and if you’re lucky, maybe even win in your group):

Decide if you want to be serious or a casual “bracketeer”. I am very serious and my wife doesn’t even know half of the teams. This will help you decide how much time or effort you want to put into filling out the bracket.
Most of the time the Final Four teams will be the 1 or 2 seeded teams. I usually pick these teams to be in the Final Four and to be the Champion. Your odds are better by doing this.
Look at who the experts and analysts are picking to win and then formulate your own ideas and opinions. This really makes it fun and interesting when you have put time and energy into picking winners and you get a bunch right.
Pick upsets. The most exciting thing to do in the brackets is to pick pretty big upsets like 12 over 5 seed and 13 over 4 and then watch it really happen.

Sharpen your pencils, print out a bracket, sit in your easy chair, turn on your big screen TV, and prepare to see why they refer to it as “March Madness”.

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