image of empty bracket board

Everyone’s favorite gambling event is finally here! Also something about the sport of basketball. It’s actually kind of sad just how mad “March Madness” is. Guys, it’s just betting. Let it go. When people show such fervor at gambling in a socially-accepted way it makes me wonder how empty the rest of their lives must be. 

Granted, I too partake. I have a bracket. I stream the games alongside the work I’m supposed to be doing. I just don’t really care about betting on the outcomes (not having expendable income helps). What I love most is the unpredictability that comes in when you (mostly) level the playing field and see which teams can survive.

There are a number of strategies when guessing which team is going to win. In fact, some folks’ strategies are so complex they’d be offended if I referred to it as guessing. But, as it turns out, even educated guessing is guessing. What I’d like to do is focus on some strategies you can use if you’re not into researching statistics and travel distances and what the team eats the night before a game. These strategies are more for the folks who have a passing interest in the tournament who were handed a bracket for their office pool. On a disclaimer-y note, you’re probably not going to do well in a bracket challenge if you use these strategies. But if you’re even considering using these strategies you probably already know that. 

I’m talking team color, not skin color, you racist jerk. Picking a team based on color preference is one of the broadest and simplest approaches to filling out your bracket. While the advantage of this is that you literally only have to be able to distinguish between two colors, I’d only use this strategy if you cannot use any other method. The reason for this is simple – too many teams use the same goddamn color. Sure, Duke’s official color is “Prussian Blue” and Butler’s is “Butler Blue,” but let’s not kid ourselves, they’re both blue.

Slightly more refined than picking based on color is picking based on mascot. If you like bulldogs maybe you’ll pick Georgia. Fan of ducks? That’d be Oregon. Like sparse and frugal room layouts? Michigan State’s for you.* While this does garner you some distinction across teams, you’re still prone to the same issue with color, namely that colleges weren’t very creative when it came down to picking their mascots (hats off to you, UC Irvine Anteaters). That being said, mascot is a good place to start.

Player Name
If a player has an awesome name, that team pretty much has to be picked. Incidentally, according to this strategy combined with the mascot approach, UC Irvine is going to win the championship. Not only are they the mighty Anteaters, they have a player named Mamadou N’Diaye. If that’s not a winning combo, I don’t know what is.

Metaphysical Connection
Here’s where we get to the real soul of bracket-prediction strategies. When approaching a prediction, take the metaphysical angle. Look inside yourself on a deep level and see which team connects with you. Is your family of Irish descent and do they have a history of fighting? Notre Dame’s your pick. Do you make boilers? Go with Purdue. Do people tell you that you’re a supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind and you’re sad a lot? It’s Duke all the way. See, by creating a metaphysical connection with a team, not only are you becoming personally invested in that team, you’re actually increasing the chances of them winning by sending them your metaphysical energy (known as “good vibes”). Guaranteed success. I mean, it hasn’t really worked out in practice for me as of yet, but ya know, in theory it’s guaranteed success.

* ’Cause they’re Spartans. Obvi.