Filling out your brackets can be an arduous process.
Take a deep breath, and consider these helpful hints before inking your choices.
10. When in doubt, go with Duke. The Blue Devils have a great postseason record over the years. This year, they've shown their traditional success.
9. No. 5 seeds tend to upset No. 12 seeds. This has been a truth over the years, but it's not necessarily a winning formula. It's a good idea to pay extra consideration to those four games.
8. Check out free-throw percentage. Because college basketball is only 40 minutes, and they use a free-throw system of a single bonus (if the player makes the first free throw, he can shoot the second free throw), free-throw shooting efficiency is a premium. Examples: Wisconsin is by far the best free-throw shooting team in college basketball. Bucknell is the second best of teams in the tournament. Northern Colorado, Gonzaga, and BYU all have very good free-throw shooting percentages.
7. When going through stats, check out inside-outside combinations. If a team has big players who score and rebound, while also having shooters and good guard play, they are probably in good shape to advance deep. Examples: Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have a star big man in Jared Sullinger and excellent outside shooting from William Buford and Jon Diebler. The Fighting Irish has four seniors, three who are long but have either an inside or outside game (Tim Abromaitis, Carleton Scott, and Tyrone Nash), and a guard leading the team in scoring (Ben Hansbrough).
6. Lean towards the Big East. Teams in the conference are used to pressure games, because they have so many teams in their conference, and every game was so important. The teams that have made the tournament are battle-tested.
5. Don't have the teams who have to play Round One games go far. They have to start in Dayton, and then have to travel to the second round game the next day. So the more peripatetic the team, the worse their potential outcome. Their opponents will not be thrown off by such a travel schedule.
4. Study where the teams play. Teams that have a short ways to travel tend to be better prepared than their opponents. Examples: North Carolina seems to have an easy ride to the Sweet 16 because they play their first two games in Charlotte, which is a hop, skip, and jump from Chapel Hill. Notre Dame has a huge fan base in Chicago.
3. Coaching, coaching, coaching. Top coaches tend to do well in the tournament. Some of the more respected ones in this tournament include: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Georgetown's John Thompson III, Temple's Fran Dunphy, Washington's Lorenzo Romar, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Gonzaga's Mark Few, and UCLA's Ben Howland, just to name 10.
2. Pick the team with the easiest road to the Elite 8 to win it all. Every quality team has a good chance of advancing deep, but some will face tougher teams than others along the road based on the Region they've been given. It becomes a huge guessing game after that. The possibility of picking all four Final Four teams is very slim, so don't place too much emphasis on wondering what Final Four team will do better than others, because it's likely it won't come down to that.
1. Rub a rabbit's foot. The only way you're going to win your pool is with luck.