For the last few years, over at SB Nation New York, I was assigned to publish an article that would help fans with their NCAA Tournament brackets.
The idea was to write something fun about March Madness and bring in some SEO traffic (NCAA-Tournament-2013-bracket-picks-predictions).
Like any formulaic system that tries to bring sanity to the madness it has failed, miserably.
So, I debated long and hard whether or not to bring the rules to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician this year, and in the end decided TNIAAM's well-educated fan base would enjoy it (because you all love to rip things to shreds).
Rule 1: All No. 1 and 2 seeds advance past the first two rounds.
Obviously, your best bet is to play it safe in the first few rounds because it sucks heading into Day 3 of the tournament and none of your bold predictions happened. Now, you're way behind the pack and need to play catch-up.
To avoid this it is best to go chalk. This means, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, Indiana Hoosiers, Kansas Jayhawks, Duke Blue Devils, Ohio St. Buckeyes, Georgetown Hoyas, Miami Hurricanes move to the round of 32.
(I must admit, my sheet of integrity completely ignores this rule as I have No. 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast University knocking out No. 2 Georgetown in the round of 64. It has really has nothing to do with the Hoyas being the Hoyas, but more to do with Georgetown's style of play -- slow and low scoring -- NCAA's tight officiating and the what-if-Otto-Porter-goes-cold? factor. If there's going to be a huge first-round upset, I see this being it.)
Rule 2: Never pick against the
Big East Conference Big Ten Conference in the first second round.
Two years ago, the conference I rode in the first round was the Big East. Here's what I said:
I did a little research for this piece (trust me, very little) and found out that in the past four years the Big East is 19-9 (67.8) in first-round games. Now, I understand that those odds are just a bit better than a coin flip, but if you toss out the off-year, which was last season when the Big East lost four of its eight first-round contests, the Big East is 14-5 (73.7) in the previous three seasons.
In 2011, the Big East compiled a 7-4 record in "second"-round games and last year went 6-3.
So, what did I do last year? I went with the Big Ten, which ended up being a better bet. B1G squads compiled a 5-2 record in "second"-round games in '11 and last year went 5-1.
Considering, the Big Ten is the best conference in the nation this is a good strategy to continue.
Rule 3: Big-name coaches never lose in the first round.
I don't have a listed criteria of what a big-name coach is, but I am pretty sure Pittsburgh Panthers' Jamie Dixon, Syracuse Orange' Jim Boeheim, Florida Gators' Billy Donovan, Va. Commonwealth Rams' Shaka Smart, North Carolina Tar Heels' Roy Williams and Butler Bulldogs' Brad Stevens are.
Rule 4: Big-name players never lose in the first round.
Again, I don't know what the criteria of a big-name player are or what ones record is in the first round, but I'm sure Creighton Bluejays' Dough McDermott fits the criteria. (Note: this is the second straight year he has been the "big-name" player, and last year Creighton beat Alabama.)
Rule 5: Split the four No. 5-No. 12 games 50/50.
In 22 of the past 24 years, a No. 12 has knocked off a No. 5 (a researched fact). So, if you're in need of an upset, always make sure to pencil in at least one.
Rule 6: Never pick against Purdue or Temple in the first round.
I don't know why I've made this a rule for my brackets, but it just seems this strategy always works out. (Same reasoning applies this year, except of course you can't take the Boilermakers because they're not in the tournament.)
Rule 7: Coin-flip games (No. 8-9, 7-10 or 6-11 contests) (that haven't been decided by previous rules) should be picked by your significant other or a friend that knows nothing about college hoops.
Rule 8: Always pick a Sweet 16 Cinderella
There's always a few shocking teams that win two games and enter the second week as the feel-good stories.
In 2010, it was (9) Northern Iowa, (12) Cornell and (10) St. Mary's (CA).
In 2012, it was (10) Xavier, (13) Ohio and (11) N.C. State.
This year, I am going with (14) Davidson and (11) Belmont
This means by default, Saint Louis, New Mexico and Kansas State advance to the round of 32.
Rule 9: Scout for bracket karma.
This rule was first introduced in the 2011 version of "The Rules," but was ditched last year for defense will win this year.
But defense will win this year is a stupid rule because nobody can score. So, back to bracket karma where the goal is to find a team that was either seeded too high or too low.
This year, the decision is easy: Oregon (which is supported by Rule 5).
Rule 10: Hot teams make it past the first week.
The first year this rule was introduced it worked well. I singled out UConn, which won five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament and then went on to win the National Championship; and North Carolina, which had a nine-game winning streak snapped in the ACC Tournament Championship game and went onto advance to the Elite 8.
Last year, my hot teams were VCU, Missouri and FSU, and none of them made it past the third round.
Right now, I'd toss Syracuse, Wisconsin and Saint Louis in this category.
Rule 11: Look for over-looked, mid-seeded squads to make an Elite 8 run.
In 2010, Tennessee (6) and Butler (5) made a run.
In 2011, it was (8) Butler and (11) VCU.
In 2012, it was (7) Florida.
This year, I like Wisconsin (5) and VCU (5).
Rule 12: If you'd like to vacation at the school's location, they deserve an Elite 8 trip.
In 2010, I said:
This is the only reason I could justify having San Diego State (2) winning three games.
Last year, I again picked San Diego St. along with Long Beach St.
This year, San Diego St. and Long Beach St. are ELIMINATED do to my wife and I actually vacationing there last June.
Next up on the vacation wish list is South Beach! Miami moves on.
Rule 13: Pick your favorite team to advance one game further than you think.
Because if they advance and you don't pick them, you'll be angry with yourself.
Conclusion: Syracuse to the Elite 8.
Rule 14: The best and most talented teams (usually) win.
At this point, there's a few upsets on your bracket and now it is time to figure out which teams are making it to the Final Four.
They say, if you add up the seeds of your Final Four teams and if it is greater than 9 or 10 than your bracket doesn't stand a chance. So, start going chalk.
My Final Four now looks like this: Louisville, Ohio. St. (Wisconsin beats Gonzaga via Rule 11), Georgetown (VCU defeats Kansas via Rule 11) and Miami (Syracuse defeats Indiana via Rule 13).
Rule 15: Stick to your guns.
If you like a team(s) then don't go back and forth on whether or not to advance them. Just advance them! You'll feel good about it when they win and still feel (somewhat) good about yourself when they lose.
(Note: because of this rule I had to erase Georgetown from the Final Four and insert VCU. I feel much better about myself now.)
All season long, Miami has grown on me. Its performance in the ACC Tournament was impressive, so I'll have them advance, over VCU, to the National Championship.
All season long, the Big Ten has been a pleasure to watch and it wouldn't be right for me not to have a representative of the conference in the National Championship: Ohio State beats Louisville.
This season has been insane, so why not have Miami -- FREAKIN MIAMI -- win the National Title.
Did you follow the rules? If so, share how your bracket turned out in the comments section.