Even Tim Hardaway Jr is getting down and dirty to fill out his tournament bracket. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
We all love brackets and seeding, and especially when the seeds, you know, make sense. That didn't happen with the NCAA Tournament this year, but our lovely sponsor for this post has achieved that with the Allstate "BFF Brackets" game, which takes your top 64 Facebook friends (culled with an actual algorithm based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, just like with the real tourney. From there your friends advance through the brackets with the corresponding seeds in the real tournament, until one is left standing. At which point you and that friend are entered in a sweepstakes to win a trip to New Orleans. Huzzah. If you're a Facebook user, you can check it out here.
Ah. Bracket season. There is no time during the calendar year where more productive work time is wasted than the middle of March. For people on the billable hour this couldn't come at a worse time. You just finished billing for the shortest month of the year and now you're going to blow a whole week filling out two dozen brackets and scouring the internet for some obscure factoid to back up your irrational belief that Northern Colorado will somehow make the Sweet Sixteen. Enjoy being chained to your desk until Christmas.
For the rest of the world it's time to hide what you're doing under spreadsheets, press releases, or on the back of that sliding filing cabinet door that you think no one knows about. You'll refrain from using your work desktop for research because that nosy IT guy will rat you out, so you constantly check your smart phone for team info until the battery dies. Then you realize that freak in IT is monitoring your company smartphone too when he comes and takes your phone away. Don't laugh too hard. He's monitoring you now. /cue Hitchcock music/
All that aside. You're doing it anyway and chances are you're talking smack with some friends as you do it. Here's the thing, if you're filling out a bracket at all, at a minimum you've got bragging rights on the line. Your buddies don't know what they're talking about and now you can prove it. If you're a girl and love basketball, the best thing on earth is to win your group, hold the bracket above your head and bellow "HOW U LIKE ME NOW!?" as the men below you refuse to meet your gaze out of shame. And then... well... there's Rick Neuheisel's office pool.
So there's something on the line for everyone. So, in order to help you prepare for the coming madness, we're here to give you the best possible ways with which to pick your bracket this season. (If you need a printable 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracket, it's waiting for you at the SBN Mothership with links to all our SBN College sites to give you all the insight and inside scoop you need.)
Now let's be clear, the Maize n Brew Bracket Methodology is a closely guarded secret. Well. Maybe not so closely guarded. We used to head down to Honduras for a 64 then 66 roach cockroach rangling tournament where they festively paint the roaches in college colors. But apparently that's "frowned upon" by the "US Government" and "local health ministry". I swear, just because a couple guys get dysentery and one guy is carried off and consumed by the roaches and all of a sudden the political correctness police have to step in. So we've devised a new closely guarded selection process. Let's just say it involves the discology of Gwar, the board game Candyland, a fast pitch softball gun, and the engine from a '72 Honda Civic.
That's what works for us, but then again we've thought this out for
years months weeks days minutes. We've tried watching all the games (no we haven't). We've tried doing research on the teams (again, no). We've talked with experts (yeah... no). And we've come to the conclusion that our method is superior to any other. And by that we mean it's what we've settled on because every other method we've tried has been crap too.
But you need your own method of picking a bracket and we're here to help. While our actual methodology is Top Secret, here are Ten Maize n Brew Approved Methods to help you pick out your 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket for March Madness.
1. Hack into NORAD and teach W.O.P.R. to play the brackets - Tic Tac Toe is for pansies. If that toolbag can break into the most closely electronically guarded computer system in the world with a dial up modem, imagine what you can do. It's the world's most advanced computer and it should be able to process every conceivable outcome and give you your eventual champion. The downside is that you might make it sentient and bring on the end of the world. But screw it, this is March Madness we're talking about. So it's worth the risk.
2. Consult a VooDoo shaman - Always helpful. The shaman have a gateway to the beyond. Use it.
3. NCAA Violations Method - This is a surefire winner up to about the Elite 8. As you're well aware college basketball recruiting is about as transparent and above board as an election in Zimbabwe. Actually, we trust that the elections in Zimbabwe involves substantially less money changing hands. So, do a little research. Find out what school has a history of NCAA violations and base your pick on that. Now be aware that one MAJOR violation like with Chris Webber may skew the results. So look for a sustained pattern of NCAA minor violations and abuses. Too many recruiting calls? Yes. Shady hiring of AAU coaches? Bingo. McDonald's All American driving a Lexus? Put em in the Sweet 16 baby! This one is guaranteed to be as accurate as anything else you can come up with. But you'll have to combine this method with another for the outcomes of the Elite 8.
4. The Highest Seed Approach - Pick the highest seed to advance in each match up. This never works. Except the year that it does. Last season the highest seed was unusually successful against the lower seeded team, which means that it'll never happen again. But that's what the universe wants you to think. Or does it?
5. Mascot Strength - Which mascot can kick the other mascot's butt? It's not just the "HUR BEAR EATS JAYHAWK" methodology, this involves looking to the live mascot or costume. This year we're in luck because LSU and Mike the Tiger didn't make it, nor did the Stanford Tree or Cal Bear. So there's no overarching favorite. For example, Bevo versus a "Blue Devil"... yeah...
6. I Hate School "X" Method - Figure out the most logical way that the school you loathe the most can lose early to a lower or higher seeded team. This ensures that your prejudices color your bracket selection, outcomes be damned!
7. Dice - It's a crap shoot anyway! (Ha. Word play.)
8. Actual Knowledge - This is for fools. You're more likely to to simultaneously have the International Space Station fall out of the sky and land on your head while getting struck by lightning than to correctly pick your bracket in its entirety. No that's not right. You're more likely to have that happen twice than to pick your bracket correctly. You see knowledge has little to do with how the tournament will turn out. Varying degrees of referee competence, conference styles, and an unkind bounce will screw you at some point and a team that should advance, won't. You can use your knowledge, but you've been warned.
9. Blind Darts - This is scientifically proven to be the most accurate predictor of Tournament outcomes (no... not really). Here's how you do it. Get a dart board. Write the names of the match ups on paper in big letters. Have a buddy blind fold you. Have your buddy place the match ups, one at a time, on the dart board without telling you which match up is on the board. Have your buddy get behind you and hand you the darts. Throw darts at dart board. If it lands on the line, throw again, but otherwise whatever name the dart is closest to is your winner. Repeat until your bracket is filled out. As a warning, please make sure there are no animals, people or valuables anywhere near you and your dart board if you use this method. But if you feel like spicing it up, go for it.
10. The Hotness Index Method - Select the winner of each game based on the hotness of their coeds. This actually works. You see, talented ballplayers like to go where there are beautiful women. For instance, our friends at Kentucky and A Sea of Blue are so over run with hot chicks that their Hockey team (yes, Kentucky has a VERY successful club hockey team) can advertise their schedule with them. Hence, Kentucky will likely win at least one of my brackets. Arizona Kentucky matchup? Meee-ow.
Hope this helps! Good luck and don't forget to fill out your brackets!