Picking the teams to win NCAA tournament can be ... well, madness
Kentucky may be the No. 1 seed, but Vanderbilt walked away with the SEC Tournament title Sunday.
March 12th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Picking the teams to win NCAA tournament can be ... well, madness

Geez, how am I supposed to get my bracket done with my bosses asking me to do all this work? Ridiculous.

March Madness, that magical season of underdogs and lost productivity, is again upon us, and folks across the nation will scramble from Web page to Web page for the next three days, hoping to get an edge in this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament.

Before you waste ludicrous amounts of your and your employers’ time, consider this: Butler and VCU composed half of last year’s Final Four. I feel pretty confident in the assumption that almost no one reading this picked that pair.

Call the Bulldogs and Rams sleepers or flukes if you like, but it was Butler’s second-straight Final Four, and VCU has made it back to the Big Dance this year, albeit as a 12 seed.

If last year taught us anything, it’s that the term Cinderella, given to no-name teams who enjoy unexpected success in the tournament, is overplayed. Way overplayed.

This year’s matches promise to be just as unpredictable. If you were paying attention over the weekend, you saw that Michigan State was the only No. 1 seed to win its conference tournament.

Tournament mainstays North Carolina and Kentucky fell to Florida State and Vanderbilt, respectively. Syracuse didn’t even make it to its conference final, losing a thriller to Cincinnati at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

The No. 2 seeds also boast only one conference tournament champion, the Missouri Tigers, who have to be feeling pretty screwed this morning. If you can’t snare a No. 1 seed by going 30-4 and trouncing a ranked Baylor team in the Big 12 Tournament, something isn’t going your way.

Still, the Tigers have to be feeling better than Seton Hall, Washington and Mississippi State, which all won at least 20 games in tough conferences yet are now NIT, Not in the Tournament.

But you’re not worried about the NIT, are you? No one fills out brackets for that. Good luck even finding one.

Today is about March Madness, and you need to know who will be this year’s VCU. It could be … well, maybe VCU, except this year’s Rams squad opens against a tough Wichita State team that up put up 27 wins behind big man Garrett Stutz and unsung point guard Joe Ragland. The Rams could also face the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats and their resident alien Anthony Davis in the Sweet 16 round if they win their first two matches.

SI.com college hoops guru Seth Davis has a few more sleepers for you. He sees 14-seed Belmont knocking off No. 3 Georgetown and the UNLV Runnin' Rebs going deep into the tournament, while Wisconsin and ACC Tournament champion Florida State leave the dance early.

Get all your tipoff times from SI.com

Exemplifying just how tricky a science bracketology can be, Davis’ colleague, Luke Winn, has a totally different take on Florida State. Winn predicts the Seminoles will make the Final Four – after Vanderbilt follows up its SEC Tournament win over Kentucky by toppling Syracuse.

If you’re more of a stats-oriented picker – as opposed to, say, letting a coin flip or mascot ferocity determine your selections – NCAA.com has a Bracket Facts Generator this year. It allows you to select the match-up by tournament seeds and displays a range of historical statistics, such as average points per game or assist/turnover ratio.

Of course, you might just be better off checking in with Las Vegas. Say what you will about bookies, but you can bet your bracket buy-in and then some that they did more research than you. It'd be tough to beat them.

You might have a better shot at beating Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon and the rest of CNN’s anchors. Head over to NCAA.com and you can enter the CNN Bracket Challenge.

No matter how you pick your bracket, just remember you have a 75 gazillion-to-1 chance of picking every game perfectly – and no matter how much college hoops you’ve watched this year, you can lose at any given moment to a colleague who doesn’t know Kris Joseph from Kris Jenner.

Just keep the country's gross domestic product in mind while you shrug off your duties to find that winning formula.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (40 Responses)


    March 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Celeste

      As a KU fan, I found it interesting that KU wasn't even mentioned in this story.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott C. McLaughlin

      No offense intended, Celeste. The only No. 2 seed mentioned was Missouri, but the Jayhawks are a fine team. I will definitely be picking them in my Final Four because I love Thomas Robinson's game .... so now I mentioned them, ha. Thanks for commenting.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Leave it to a KU fan (Celeste) to whine because they weren't mentioned in a NCAA Basketball article on CNN. How did the Big 12 Tourney work out for you? Bye Bye Big 12.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big10

    Ashley Judd will be crying her eyes out in no time. Calamari best served fried with marinara

    March 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |

    Perhaps Duke will finally win its first National Championship!

    March 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      They've won quite a few.

      March 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |

    Cuse takes it all while VCU and Murray State make valiant efforts. Watch out for San Diego State as well. Kentucky and Syracuse in the final

    March 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bub

      Lol, VCU, Murray State, and San Diego State have a solid chance of being knocked out in the opening game...look for not a single one of them to even make Sweet 16.

      March 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |

    it either gonna be mu or ku.. the rest of the teams are weak...

    March 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AmericanPROSACisSPORTS

    hey I put ten bets on this game- for my daughters future: And because my president BAMA baby loves his basetball..

    WE ARE THE THE TRUE AMERICANS !!! forget thatt Clinton Afghanistan SAX... its basetball WE LOVE !!

    March 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. southside nike

    The odds of assembling a perfect slate are
    One in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott C. McLaughlin

      My bad, southside nike, I just rounded up to one in 75 gazillion.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Well, technically its probably closer to 7 gazillion instead of 75 gazillion or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 since the games aren't decided completely randomly. For example, the probability that a 1-seed beats a 16 seed isn't going to be 1/2, its probably going to be closer to 1. So, while the odds that, for example, the highest seed wins every game is still very low, its probably something like (2/3)^63 instead of (1/2)^63. (Actual odds may be calculated using that Bracket Facts Generator Tool mentioned in the article). That would actually take the number down considerable to about one in 100,000,000,000...

      March 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott C. McLaughlin

      A fine point, Jay. One in 100 billion is much better than 75 gazillion. You just got my hopes up!

      March 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Just calculated it using the NCAA tool, and the total actually came out to 1 in 38,560,207,957... still don't like those odds...

      March 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bub

      I read last year that it was approximately the same odds of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot 7 times in a row....

      March 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |

    A message to the NCAA... I've been a long time fan for about 30 years but two years ago, you really turned me away from the sport NCAA, so much that for the first time in three decades I decided not to watch the tournament in 2011! That is until I found out that Butler made it back to the Final Four! See, Butler actually beat Duke in the National Championship game a year earlier! But the game was so fixed that every time Butler built a lead, deliberate bad calls kept Duke in the game! Furthermore NCAA, if you're going to call "over the back" or "charge" infractions on one end, then you've got to call it the same way on the other end! And if you're going to call "reaching in" on one end, you've got to be consistent and call it the same way on the other end!

    I challenge anyone to go back and look at that game closely and I guarentee that you'd agree that Butler did in fact beat Duke hands down but they were robbed simply because the NCAA seems to feel that Cinderella teams should not reach the promise land! let's faceit, NCAA, the reason why the tournament is watched by so many is because of the David v. Goliath factor, particularly seeing the little guy go toe to toe with the big guy! But unfortunately NCAA, every one of Duke's championship was handed to them on a platter! Every one! yes, Duke didn't earn one of those championships you gave to them, Shame on you NCAA! Let's face it NCAA, all the other kids have to work just as hard, so why cheat for the big guys? I'm appalled NCAA! Just appalled! Well, I hope a cinderella teams win the national championship this year! Well, that is if they don't get coack K-ed out by the NCAA once again!

    March 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pinebelt Bob

      Don't you love it when the officials refuse to let the game end with one team at the free throw line? The commentators will say, "Well, they are just not going to let a close game end with a foul call." Why not??? If they can call an obvious foul 3 seconds into the game, then they should call an obvious foul with 3 seconds left in the game.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bub

      Hahah, would you like some cheese with that wine?

      March 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Got Rear Ended

    @ Bob

    Bet you're cute! Doing anything tonight?

    March 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary

    Picking or predicting the winner(s?) is impossible. It is a lucky crapshoot at very best.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. petemg

    So I wonder who Obama will pick. He has more or less said he has nothing else to do.

    March 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe B.

    I do have to say that I can't believe they said that Washington was in a tough conference. The Pac-12 was aweful and sadly my team (ASU) let the way of aweful play. Although knowing that ASU's regular season beating of UofA possibly, and probably played a part in keeping the 'Cats outta the dance, well that makes me smile.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul Willson

    R epoprt news NOT tyhiks college idocy

    March 13, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Would you be literate enough to read the news if they reported it? Based on your comment, I'm going with unlikely.

      March 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul Willson

    ignore everything after report news fingeritis

    March 13, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. steve

    the one I am looking forward too is Mizzou vs Kentucky
    up tempo game slashing to the hoop!

    March 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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