It’s that time of the year! The time where we all obsess over creating the perfect bracket, create dozens of slightly different brackets, and lose hours (or days) of sleep over impending tournament excitement.
Since I’m a huge March Madness fan and bracket-obsessed lunatic, I decided to go ahead and help you out with some of my biggest DO’s and DON’Ts for filling out your perfect bracket!
DO: Recognize any teams going into the tournament “hot”
It helps tremendously if you have watched (or at least kept up with) the conference tournaments. Are there any teams who found a spark late in the season and carried that momentum all the way to a conference title? Those are the teams you want to keep an eye out for. They may not go and make a national title run, but they have the ability to pull an upset or two. Keep your eyes open for the red-hot squad; they will be dangerous in this tournament.
DON’T: Pick your entire bracket based off of seeding
This is the sign of a true bracket-bonehead. Don’t be that guy (or gal) who has your entire bracket full of high seeds over low seeds, and you do not want to be that person with an all one-seed Final Four. There has only been one occurrence within the last 34 years of an all one-seed Final Four, and that was in 2008. Seeding is not an exact science so you will not want to evaluate a team based on seeding alone. (See: Louisville)
DO: Take AT LEAST 2 surprising upsets in the first round
Newsflash: You will not feel comfortable taking these risks on your perfect bracket, but those huge 12-5 upsets or 13-4 upsets happen every single year. Those are the games you watch in total disgust as some random no-name school takes down a school you had going to the Sweet 16. Do yourself a favor and take the risk on a few low seed teams recording the upset in the opening round. You may be wrong, but if you are right you will look like a genius.
DON’T: Pick a team based off of their past success, uniforms, mascot, etc.
Take a team like 6th seeded University of North Carolina for example. They are the almighty Tarheels, MJ the GOAT went there, and they are coached by Roy Williams! It is impossible for them to have an early exit from the tournament, right? Wrong. Forget about their historic reputation and focus on this year only. There is a huge difference between having a great program and having a great season. Also, don’t be that uninformed weirdo who picks a team because “Their uniforms are nice”, or “The mascot is cool”. That will get you nowhere.
DO: Pick a Cinderella team to make a deep run
It happens almost every year, when a low seed team that no one expected to make it out of the opening round makes it to the Final Four or the Elite 8. It is that type of glorified unpredictability that gives March Madness its lure. Stay one step ahead of everyone and make sure you find a team seeded five or above that has the potential to make at least an Elite 8 appearance.
DON’T: Impulsively go all-in with your favorite team
This may be the BIGGEST no-no on the entire list, but we all do it. Back in 2012 I witnessed the Florida State Seminoles, my favorite team at the time, go on a run and win the ACC Tournament. I was so impressed and biased that I chose them to go on a streak and win it all. Well, they lost in the round of 32 and shattered my heart and my bracket. Unless you truly believe that your school has the skills to make a deep run, you will have to be honest on your bracket and cut them off at the right time. It will be hard, but I promise your school will forgive you.
DO: Your homework
If you are truly dedicated to having an exquisite bracket, it will take some time. Friends and loved ones may become concerned with your obsessive research, but remind them that it is for a good cause. Understand that the NCAA tournament is all about match-ups and little about seeding. If you do your homework and see that a lower seed excels at something a higher seed struggles a great deal with, expose that mismatch in your bracket. Knowing the field of 64 well gives you a huge competitive advantage over those who blindly try and pick a bracket.
DON’T: Ignore your gut
Do yourself a favor and do not ignore your gut feeling in this tournament. If you have done your research and you possess no bias towards the game, trust yourself enough to make the pick you are comfortable with. Also, do not let “Bracketology experts” on television intimidate you. Last I checked those experts have the exact same number of perfect brackets as you do. If you have a feeling about a game, do not let anyone talk you out of it. Remember: it is okay to be wrong. Heck, I am wrong every day. But it is an awful feeling of regret to know that you could have been right and chose to ignore your instincts instead.
Those are some of my key DO’s and DON’Ts to fill out your perfect bracket. It is arguably the most stressful part of a sports fan’s entire year, but going into it prepared is half of the battle.
Good luck to all of you March Madness participants, and if you have any other key DO’s or DON’Ts, make sure to leave a comment with them below!
I Just Came Back From The Final Four In San Antonio, And It Was Incredible!
Back in March, our friends at Buick (an official sponsor of the NCAA) invited us to take part in their March Madness Buick Bracketball Challenge, pitting me against a group of my peers as we battled it out for bragging rights… and a trip for two to the Final Four!
Talk about some high-stakes! According to the rules, whoever managed to outlast any bracket busters and secure a top spot on the leaderboard would win a trip to San Antonio for the Final Four games, complete with tickets, a hotel room, and a Buick loaner to get around town.
The only problem? I’ve never actually participated in a March Madness bracket before, so my odds were slim to none. But I decided to give it a shot anyway, going with some of my favorite teams, and picking my beloved Villanova for the win.
Virginia’s first-round upset by UMBC was a HUGE blow to me (and pretty much everyone else), as I had them facing off against Villanova in the end. But amazingly enough, my other picks performed much better, and I was holding steady in the top 5 for much of the series.
After the Elite 8, I got an e-mail that was a total game-changer – “You’ve landed yourself a top spot in the Buick Bracketball Challenge leaderboard and will be headed, along with a guest, to San Antonio for the Final Four games next weekend on behalf of Buick!”
My jaw about hit the floor. I was going to the Final Four!
Buick was awesome, hooking us up with some incredible seats for the games (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was actually sitting in the same section as us, only MUCH closer to the court), a hotel room within walking distance of the Alamodome, and a Buick Enclave to get around town.
San Antonio is such a cool town, and we made the most of our time there exploring the city. The guy sitting next to us on our flight suggested that we check out The Guenther House for breakfast. The food was amazing (their waffles are like nothing you’ve ever had before), and it’s a really unique venue, an old flour mill from the 1800s.
After breakfast, we made our way downtown to the Riverwalk for the Rally on the River, where the team bands took to the water for a floating Pep Rally. People’s excitement levels were off the charts, it was really something to witness. We walked the length of the Riverwalk, taking in the sights and just people watching..
Of course, we had to visit The Alamo (no sign of Pee-Wee’s missing bike), which was located right down the street from our hotel. As the day went on, it got pretty warm, so we decided to escape the heat and check out Fan Fest. There were tons of cool exhibits here, and Buick had a huge activation as well, complete with a basketball court, a bunch of vehicles on display, and their Fandom University.
Before long, it was time for us to make our way to the Alamodome for the first two games, and it was a memorable experience for sure. Devoted fans were out in full force rooting on their teams, and the action on the court was intense. Michigan put an end to Loyola’s Cinderella story, and Villanova was on fire, making short work of Kansas with 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
Monday night’s game was one for the record books, with Villanova decimating Michigan and taking home the win with a score of 79-62. ‘Nova was on fire all night, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this amazing weekend.
Thanks again to Buick for an incredible experience, it’s one I won’t soon forget!
Harry Kane Achieves The Century
Harry Kane is comfortably one of the best strikers in world football right now. He has started this season in the rich vein of form that he finished the last, and so far the 24 year old has hit 31 goals in 32 games in all competitions. It’s set to be another hugely impressive campaign for the 24 year old Spurs striker, as Kane prepares to feature for England at the World Cup in Russia in the summer; and it’s also very likely that he will skipper the Three Lions too.
You could say that this has been a year to remember for Kane for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about his surpassing Alan Shearer’s record for scoring the most Premier League goals in a calendar year (36) when he took his tally in 2017 to 39, after a superb hat trick against Southampton in a 5-2 victory for Spurs. Kane had another target in mind, the Premier League 100 club.
Kane headed into the game at Anfield knowing that he only needed one goal to reach the landmark of 100 Premier League goals. While Spurs had beaten Manchester United last time out, Kane drew a blank in front of goal, but he wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity again, or was he? Spurs were actually behind in the game through Kane’s main rival for the Premier League golden boot, Mohamed Salah, before Victor Wanyama got them back on level terms with a powerful effort from distance. In the 87th minute, Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius was adjudged to have fouled Kane, with Spurs awarded a penalty as a result.
This was the moment, it was Kane to take the spot kick to score his 100th Premier League goal but he remarkably missed it, with Karius saving it. Salah then added a second for Liverpool just a few minutes later, and it looked like Kane’s day would be put on hold once again, before Spurs were awarded another penalty. The Spurs striker made no mistake this time, equalizing for Tottenham to make it 2-2 and scoring his 100th Premier League goal in the process. He managed to hit 100 in just 136 games, with only Alan Shearer completing the feat quicker (124).
Kane recently overtook Teddy Sheringham to become the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer for Spurs and he’s the only likely candidate to break Alan Shearer’s all time Premier League goals record too. He currently stands at 24th on the list with 100 alongside Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and has 160 more goals to score to equal Shearer’s record that has looked unbeatable at times. Anyone who has the feeling that Kane can go on to squash a few more records, should have a look at the betting.com online betting news site, to ensure you get the best odds and bonuses on offer.
The best chance of someone equaling it and then surpassing it rests with Harry Kane. He’s the right age at 24 and still has plenty of time to do so. He’s scoring goals for fun and you could even say that he hasn’t even hit his peak yet. If he continues as he is now, he will undoubtedly become the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer within the next few seasons.
The Grand National: The Race That Stops A Nation
There are many big horse racing meetings and races in the UK, but one race stands above all the others as the race where everyone places a bet, and everyone stops to watch it. That race is the Grand National, an event that takes place in April (the 2018 edition of this fantastic contest will take place on April 14th) so mark that day in your calendar as one to remember.
The build up to this unique test for horses is huge, and there are many trial races where horses will battle it out against each other to prove they are worthy of taking their place in the 40 strong field that will head to post on the day of the race. What makes the Grand National unique is the challenge of both the distance and the fences that require jumping.
The fences that the horses jump are extremely unique, and they require a special horse to just get around the course safely, let alone win the race. Then, there is the test of the distance, which is four miles, two and a half furlongs, a huge test of stamina and one that certainly favors the bravest horses and jockeys out there.
Betting on the Grand National is huge, and many people will place their bets either on the day of the race or well in advance. People who only bet once a year will turn out in force to head to their local bookmaker and place their bets, before sitting together as a family to watch the fantastic spectacle live on TV. Oddschecker has many free bet offers for the Grand National available already and many people will have already placed their bets on the race, such is the importance of the event.
The favorite for the race right now is Blaklion, a horse who finished 4th in last season’s race. That experience will have done him well, and he has proven that he has the ability and heart to jump around these fences not only once, but twice before. That puts him in pole position and he looks to have a great chance of running well in the race.
Last year’s winner, One For Arthur, will unfortunately not try to repeat his heroics of last season as he has been ruled out of the race due to injury, leaving the door open for a new champion.