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5 Unconventional Ways to Decide Your March Madness Bracket

Eliot Leadem

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It’s March. For college basketball fans across the country (and bandwagoners who love the drama of a bracket), March presents a time of much contemplation in order to determine one’s perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. Over the years, we have seen a few individuals who claim that they have successfully completed a “perfect bracket,” yet there has not yet been one confirmed by ESPN Tournament Challenge, CBS, or other competing news outlets. Thus, the quest for a perfect bracket is still on, though the probability is very, very low. According to Jeff Bergen, a professor at DePaul University, he believes that the odds of filling out a perfect bracket is 1 in 128 billion. Others (more mathematically inclined) have calculated it to be 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,776,808, which estimates to a staggering 1 in 9.2 quintillion. This is due to the shocking upset victories and tournament runs that strike the bracket unexpectedly every year, immediately eliminating a good majority’s selection. This is evident in last year’s Final Four, as the #10 seed Syracuse made an unpredicted leap alongside powerhouses #1 UNC, #2 Villanova, and #2 Oklahoma. .0093% of all CBS brackets predicted the Final Four correct, which proved to be a larger amount than previous years (0% in 2011 and 2013). Since luck plays an extremely large factor in the outcome of a “good bracket’s” fate, here are some alternative and unconventional approaches to selecting your bracket.

  1. Mascot Challenge – All mascots are not created equally. It’s easy to envision a Wildcat terrorizing an Anteater in a boxing ring. Thus, Villanova over UC Irvine? Sounds good to me. Note – some colleges may lack an actual mascot (North Carolina Tar Heels, Ohio State Buckeyes), so look up what their in-game mascot truly is.
  2. Basketball Shootout – Why not play basketball to decide each and every basketball game’s result? In this method, the #16 vs #1 game would be a half-court shot. Each subsequent shot should be a large step forward, ending in a short lay-in for the #7 vs #8 matchup.
  3. Home Court Advantage – Though this method may take a little bit of calculating, it’s a good way to take into consideration the benefit of playing in front of a one-sided crowd. By calculating each distance to the site from the respective colleges, the closer one would advance, no matter what. Note – venues change 3 times throughout the entire tournament, so keep that into consideration when reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
  4. Follow the President – Obama’s term has finished, but I’m assuming Donald Trump will be filling out his NCAA Tournament bracket like many presidents of the past. It may not be individualistic, but for one, copying the president’s bracket may give you some good karma.
  5. Ask Uninformed People – As I touched on earlier, luck is a huge aspect of this process. So, ask that lunch lady, that bus driver, minister, UPS man, neighbor… anyone you feel comfortable asking. This will alleviate some of the pressure in decision-making, and maybe their advice might just reward you.
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