It’s coming. The day when your office-mates turn into competitive, know-it-all gamblers, hiding the live CBS Sports feed on their smart phones. March Madness, college basketball’s championship tournament, is here. This year is different though. Multi-billionaire, Warren Buffett, is offering $1 billion to any person who correctly picks the winner of every game. Whether you’re a knowledgeable fan or just wondering what all the hype is about, this is the year to join the 60 percent of Americans who fill out at least one March Madness bracket. Let’s start with 5 tips for the more serious fan; the person who takes pride in the legitimacy of their bracket within hard core office pools:
- Watch college basketball. Limited on time or interest? Stick to ESPN’s Super Tuesday and CBS’ Saturday/Sunday afternoon match-ups. These games are strategically scheduled to be the best games with the most on the line.
- There’s an app for that. Smart phone apps like ESPN Score Center or CBS Sports will familiarize you with teams potentially in the tournament. Receive score, injury and big game updates via text.
- Tournament resumé. A good indicator of a team’s success will be the program’s history in the tournament. For instance, our MSU Spartans have a knack for turning it on in March. They’re always a safe bet.
- Consider the conference. Just because a team is at the top of the Colonial Athletic Conference doesn’t necessarily mean they will be competitive, even with the “middle of the road” teams in power conferences like the ACC or Big 10.
- Depth. As the Spartans have learned so far this year, depth is huge. How many points do players who don’t start account for? How many players does a team have in double digit scoring? The more the better. Deeper teams won’t be derailed by injuries, or if the star point guard has an off night.
- The obvious: Which team has the higher seed (or ranking)? A 16 seed has never won a game in the tournament and only seven 15 seeds have beaten 2 seeds.
- Which team is more excited during the Selection Show? The Selection Show can be seen on CBS the Sunday before the tournament begins.
- Best/most unique mascot. Besides the expected birds, dogs and various devil-type characters, consider some of my favorites like the Vermont Catamounts or Richmond Spiders … they just sound cool.
- Pick one underdog, and go with it! A gamble on an unknown school with a cool name or cool cast of players (like Florida Gulf Coast last year) can really pay off.
- Never bet against Coach Izzo in March.