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NCAA Tournament Bracket Selections

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2008 NCAA Tournament Bracket Selections

Every year it's tempting to take the four No. 1 seeds from each region to reach the Final Four and this year is no exception. In fact, the four No. 1 teams probably look a little more tempting than usual, as there is a bit of a drop-off between the top three or four teams in the country and the remaining squads.

Strategies For Your Bracket

It's important to remember that your main focus isn't necessarily to have every game correct, unless you're playing in some type of online contest that pays $10,000 for a perfect bracket, but the goal of entering into a bracket pool is to have more points than your competitors.

A number of players are going to pick some upsets for the sole reason of picking upsets, and most players have heard that four No. 1 seeds have never made the Final Four, so the typical pool will have two No. 1 seeds, a No. 2 seed, and a No. 3 seed. This may be the year you can use that to your advantage.

For many players, it's a question of which two No. 1 seeds to put into their bracket and which teams to look to for upsets. While Tennessee, Georgetown, Texas, Stanford, and Duke are all logical choices to pull an upset, players need to ask themselves if those teams are really better than the No. 1 seeds. This year, I think the answer is no.

There are always some players who fill out several brackets, picking a number of upsets in one of them, which is almost like giving money away. Don't do it! While it's always tempting to try and show off your basketball knowledge by picking a No. 10 seed to reach the Sweet 16 or a No. 4 seed to reach the Final Four, the chances of it actually happening are pretty slim. If you fill out more than one bracket, stick to the better teams in the later rounds and look for upsets in the first round, where you won't be hurt nearly as bad if your team doesn't pull it off.

East Region

North Carolina is the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament and naturally is going to be tough to keep from winning the East Region. The Tar Heels should have a relatively easy trip to the East Region finals, where if things play out, they should have too much firepower for Washington State.

The other side of the bracket is a lot more interesting with Tennessee and Louisville fighting it out in the Sweet 16. If you're looking for an upset in this bracket, take Louisville to defeat Tennessee, but pencil in North Carolina to advance to the Final Four.

Dark horse: Butler

The Midwest Region

This region is a bit more open than the East, but should come down to Kansas and Georgetown. The Midwest also has the potential for several first-round upsets, with Kent State over UNLV and Davidson over Gonzaga, as good possibilities. As the winners of those two games are likely to lose in their next game, with the Kent State vs. UNLV winner facing Kansas and the Gonzaga vs. Davidson winner facing Georgetown, they may be solid first-round upset choices.

While it's tempting to take Georgetown as a potential upset choice in this spot, the Hoyas still will have to get past a pesky Wisconsin squad, but I have to believe Kansas is a bit too much for either team and look for the Jayhawks to advance.

Dark horse: Vanderbuilt

The South Region

Of all the No. 1 seeds, Memphis State appears to be the most vulnerable for an upset, as the Tigers have had a relatively easy schedule and haven't really been tested much this season.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers agree, as Memphis State is the only No. 1 seed above even money to win their region, with Texas the second choice and Stanford next in line.

For a first-round upset, I'd give St. Mary's a shot over Miami, Florida, and in the later rounds, I'm going to give Stanford a shot to defeat Texas, but in the end, I'm going to stick with Memphis to advance to the Final Four.

Dark horse: Pittsburgh

The West Region

UCLA should have a fairly easy time to the West Region finals, assuming that Kevin Love is healthy and ready to go, which he says he will be.

Duke will have a more difficult time reaching the finals on the other side of the bracket, with Xavier, West Virginia, and Purdue all standing in the way, and any of the three are capable of pulling off an upset and ruining things for basketball purists, who are hoping for a UCLA vs. Duke West Region finals and a UCLA vs. North Carolina match-up to decide the national champion.

For first-round upsets, I would give Texas A & M the best opportunity, while Baylor can't be overlooked, although I'd give the nod to Purdue. In the second round, I'd give Drake the nod over Connecticut.

Once again, I'll stick with the No. 1 seed to get the job done here and look for UCLA to advance to the Final Four.

Dark horse: Drake

Final Four

In the Final Four, I like North Carolina and UCLA to advance and the Bruins to bring home the championship trophy. For tie-breakers, I would choose somewhere around 140 points, as North Carolina will force the temp a bit, while UCLA will try to play more of a controlled game, so look for a score to fall somewhere in the middle of what the teams generally play.

Summary

When I first watched the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on television and saw one of the analyists select all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four my initial reaction was "What a wimp! How can you pick all the No. 1 seeds to reach the finals?"

After looking at the brackets and the teams, I decided that probably isn't that bad of an ideal, since we'll actually be going against the grain a bit by selecting the best teams. Remember, since you just want to beat the other players in your pool and most of them aren't going to select all of the No. 1 seeds, we'll try to sneak one by them and take the four top teams in the country.

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