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For all you budding bracketologistas out there, some of my personal rules of thumb when it comes to the NCAA Tournament:

Rule #1: Love your #10 seeds

Makes it easy for me. Iowa is the #10 in the Austin quadrant. But keep an eye on NC State, Creighton, and St. Mary's. 10 seeds are often either the best of the mid-majors, or middle of the pack sleepers from the major conferences. This year, there are two of each. Can you guess who I'll be picking? Iowa beat Texas, Texas Tech, Louisville, and Michigan State on neutral floors this year, and they took Illinois to overtime, and played the Illini tougher than any team but Ohio State. They lost their top scorer (Pierce) mid-season, but have had plenty of time to learn to play without him. They've got a couple of good shooters, a workhorse power forward, and a young center, all of whom can play.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: for the past 9 years in a row (9 years!), at least one #10 has made it to the Sweet 16. Last year, it was Nevada.

Rule #2: Keep your eye on the #12 seeds.

Since the field expanded to 64 (65), there have only been two years where a #12 seed did not upset a #5 seed.

Last year, it was Providence losing to Pacific, and Florida losing to Manhattan. This year's crop of #12's includes Wisconsin-Milwaukee, George Washington, Old Dominion, and New Mexico, facing Alabama, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, and Villanova respectively. Much as it pains me to say--because I think 'Nova's a Sweet 16 team--I think Georgia Tech is the only lock of the bunch. UWM, ODU, and UNM are all coming off tournament wins in their home conferences, and all 4 of these teams come from the "major" mid-major conferences, ones with a good history of upsets.

Rule #3: Watch for end of season trends

Last year, Xavier upset undefeated St. Joe's in the A-10 tourney, and then ripped through the tournament. As a #7 seed, they beat Louisville (#10), MississipI St. (#2), Texas (#3), and lost to #1 seed Duke by 3 points. They were 3 points away from the Final 4 last year.

Georgia Tech is low as a #5 (thanks to mid-season injuries) and Louisville is low as a #4 (thanks to ???? on the part of the selection committee)--either of those teams could easily go to St. Louis out of that region. But they meet in Round 2--that's a game that could make or break a bracket.

Syracuse played better defense in the Big East tournament than they've played all season, which is why they've trended up in the seedings. If they play Duke in Austin, that's another game that could make that entire bracket. Either team could beat Kentucky or Oklahoma.

Kansas lost 5 of their last 8, and somehow still managed to get consideration as a top seed, which is bizarre to me, I'll have to admit. With a #3 seed, I'm sorely tempted to pick Wisconsin as a #6 against them, but if I don't, I can't imagine that they'd get through Connecticut.

Rule #4: At least one thing that appears OBVIOUS to me will prove to be entirely incorrect.

Last year, I thought Providence was ripe for a 3 or 4-round tear. Silly me.

This year, the Chicago regional looks like an absolute breeze for Illinois and Oklahoma State. That probably means at least one of them will lose.

Let the bracketologisticalitizing begin. That is all.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bracketonomy:

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Penciled in a ghost bracket; eerie how many higher seeds I was compelled to choose.  I've read up on the competition (Hey you, blogosphere, how come you're not signing up for the bracket posted here!?...still time to join, but we're going ahead wi... [Read More]

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As long as the Gators make it out of the first round, I'll be happy. If they keep playing like they did yesterday, watch out.