SB Nation has a bracket ready to print:
Download 2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket
Now that you have your bracket printed, here are some tips to help fill it out.
Who's Hot Who's Not
In 2009 Tim Chartier, a math professor, developed a program that picked bracket winners with surprising accuracy. He determined that by up-weighting the games at the end of the season, teams that were hot had a pretty good chance of making a run in the Tourney.
Don't Get Too Cute
I remember a few years ago my brother and I were discussing his picks for the upcoming college football weekend. He'd taken several underdogs in high profile games. He was telling me how he thought each team could pull off the upset, and to be honest I felt the same way. I could see each of those team winning, but he'd made one crucial mistake. While one or two of those upsets were likely, all them happening had about the the same chance as Travis Ford at winning Coach of the Year.
While that was football the point still applies. The reality is more often than not the Tournament Champion is a 1-seed that most people thought would win, so don't outsmart yourself. Nothing will kill a bracket quicker than picking a Cinderella to make a run, just to have them lose in the first round.
Finding The Upsets
While you don't want to go upset crazy with your bracket, they do happen. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- A 16-seed has never upset a 1-seed.
- Vegas recommends you pick at least one 13 or 14-seed to advance to the round of 32.
- A 12-seed will upset a 5-seed, probably. It's happened 25 times in the last 28 years.
- An 11-seed knocks off a 6-seed one of every three games on average.
- In 15 of the last 17 years a 10-seed or lower has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
- A 2-seed has been eliminated before reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 14 of the last 15 years.
- Only one time have all four 1-seeds made it to the Final Four.
Home Court Advantage
This one's pretty self-explanatory, if a team is playing close to home they'll be sure to draw a crowd.
Playing the Stats
There's no secret stat out there that will accurately predict every winner - or else we would all be rich! - but there are a few to pay attention to.
ESPN's Michael Smith on the show "Numbers Never Lie" pointed out that every recent National Champion has possessed the following six traits.
- The last 25 champions had more assists than turnovers
- The previous 20 champions had a coach with Sweet Sixteen experience.
- The last 20 champs had at least three wins over teams in the top 10% of RPI heading into the tournament.
- The 20 champions have been in the top 75 in strength of schedule.
- The previous 10 winners have ranked in the top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency.
- The last 10 champs have also ranked in the top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
There's only one team that qualifies, the Florida Gators.
Food For Thought
How many of you have spent hours coming up with the perfect bracket, just to have your girlfriend beat you by picking which teams colors she liked more? Interestingly enough, there actually may be something to that. In the last 10 years only once has the champion not had blue in their school colors. That was last year when Louisville won.
Have some tips of your own? Let us know in the comments what's worked for you.