Home > NCAA > Matt’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Methodology: The Bitter Bracket

Matt’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Methodology: The Bitter Bracket

I have been following and picking winners for the NCAA finals basketball tourney for about 5 years now, and I have come to learn a few things. I know that my time involved with this isn’t anywhere near as long as most of the die-hard American college sports lovers out there, but as a Canadian basketball fan with absolutely no reason to have an attachment to any US school team, I hope I can bring my unbiased observations to the table in a helpful way. The theme of my methodology this year is bitterness. You may ask why, and my answer will focus around the fact that I have tried the whole “getting attached to an underdog” and the “just pick a team and going with it” for the last few years and I have repeatedly been disappointed. That, among other reasons, will be explained below.

Click to check out my bitter bracket

What I have come to learn and how it made me bitter:

1) Those guys picking the rankings usually know what they are doing. Sadly, the number 1 seeds are usually the four best teams in the country, and in the end of the day those teams have pretty good odds to make it to the final four. But come on! How lame is it to fill out your bracket and have all the number 1 seeds going to the finals?? Everyone wants there to be some low seeded teams in it at the end!! I know, I feel that dilemma each year with you, so I usually try to pick some strong number 3s and 4s, to go with a few 1s. But what happens? The 1s that don’t pick usually make it and the 1s that I do pick lose to a # 14 seed somewhere. So, in the theme of bitterness/lameness, GO #1s! All four number ones in the final four.

2) The underdog teams that journalists get hot on prior to the tourney always win one or two games and then lose. I am not blaming the sports writers for this one; mostly I am blaming myself. I get so caught up with the upsets, that I spend all my time reading up on the little underdog schools or the Ivy league schools to see what their story is (that explains my love for the Cornell Big Red who sadly did not make it this year. So of course I pick a few of those underdogs to win in the first round, but then, once I have them in there, I don’t want to pick them to lose and end a possible Cinderella story in the second round. Subsequently, I have read up so much on the top and the bottom seeds I have no freaking idea what the teams ranked 5-11 are like, so I have no connection to them and have them all losing to the top teams or my wild Cinderella teams.

3) To expand on the last point, picking the upsets is always a crapshoot. The point above may have sounded as if I was advocating that you pick the top seeds win each game, but there are always upsets. Picking them is the useless part. There is always one team that everyone writes off, and then no one even looks at them while the other “sexy” underdogs get all the attention. They are impossible to pick; making me bitter again, hence the randomly selected upsets.

The Result:

So based on the three observations I have come up with over the last few years, this is how they have shaped by bracket selections this year.

– Based on bitterness reason number one, Duke will beat out Ohio State followed by Kansas in a final four full of number 1 seeds to win it all.

– The Elite Eight is full of 1s, 2s, or 3s. Despite my bitterness of never wanting to pick the top seeds all the time (which in following this new methodology I should be doing), I cannot see it being an Elite Eight with only 1 and 2 seeded teams.

– Connecticut will go to the Elite Eight. This is personal bitterness outside of what I explained above. I find it hard to like teams that I have no association with but I find it easy to pick certain teams to hate. Uconn is that team for me. Actually, I can expand this reasoning to most of the teams I have picked to go deep into the bracket. Chalk up Pitt, Kansas and Georgetown onto that list.

– Based on bitterness reason number two above, Butler, the team that lost in the finals last year, will lose in the first round this year. Also based on this reasoning I have St. John’s losing early. I will credit Bill Simmons for this one, he was repping them too much on his recent podcast.

– Based on bitterness reason number three; most of my picks in the first 2 rounds that don’t involve a number 1 or 2 seed were a total shot in the dark.

Other random things that fit into this bitterness theme:

– The fact that I quickly picked all my winners last night with this reasoning at 11:30, just incase I didn’t have time to fill it out later. But, now that I have put a little bit more thought into some of the lower seed picks, CBS sports is having some technical difficulties and is not letting me open up my bracket. Hey, this could be a good thing actually; it might prevent me from screwing something up.

– Somehow, while writing this, I formatted the bottom task bar on my laptop to be vertical on the right hand side of my screen. How do you even do that? And more importantly how do I get it back to the bottom where it belongs?

More Strategies from First Off The Bench:

David’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Methodology: SRS and Win Shares

Kai’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Methodology: Method? We were supposed to have a method?

Marcus’ NCAA Basketball Tournament Methodology: Battle of the Fiercest Team Names


  1. Deb Townley
    March 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Does this mean I shouldn’t ask you to help me fill out my bracket?

    • March 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      I don’t think it really matters. Your random guesses will probably be just as good as mine.

  2. David
    March 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    This is definitely a new approach for you, I like it. Question: Why do you have Princeton upsetting kentucky in the first round? Is that part of your random upsets? If that happens, you’ll probably be part of less than 1% of all brackets that called that.

  3. March 17, 2011 at 6:35 am

    You got it. Princeton over Kentucky is from the “picking upsets is a total crap shoot” category.

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