Statistically, and I'm taking a risk by trusting Wikipedia on this, there are 147.57 quintillion bracket possibilities in the 68 team field. Since no one is going to try and pick the first round games this year, the real number is 9.2 quintillion for a 64 team field. You have a better chance of winning the lottery twice this year than randomly picking a perfect bracket. Luckily, with a little knowledge, you can make things easier on yourself.
To be sure, everyone has their own method of selecting teams, but here are a few things I see when looking at this year's field.
- Two teams, Ohio State and Kansas, jump out at me. They're not only quality basketball teams, faring well in all statistical measures, but they've also avoided random losses throughout the season. They seem to be a step above the rest of the field and like '05, when Illinois played UNC, and '08, when Kansas played Memphis, they seemed primed to roll through the Tournament. In all of my brackets I've placed Kansas and Ohio State in the final.
- The rest of my Final Four is up in the air. I think the Southeast will be a disaster this year, and upsets will be frequent. Pitt couldn't even win one game in the Big East tourney, so I'm going to look elsewhere. Florida is regionally protected, so, even though I think their team is crap, I'll go with them. That only leaves the West. The defending National Champions Duke get shuttled all the way out to Anaheim for the sweet-sixteen and elite eight rounds. Should SDSU make it there, that could make things difficult for the Dukies. My wild card pick in this region is, however, UCONN. Kemba Walker is incredible, and, as long as he's not too tired from winning 5 games in 5 days in the Big East Tournament, the Huskies could go far. I actually ended up picking them to reach the Final Four.
- For "second-round" upsets I've targeted Richmond over Vandy, Utah St over KSU, Belmont over Wisconsin, and Gonzaga over St John's. For "Cinderellas" (low seeded teams who make the sweet sixteen) I could see a team like Xavier or Utah St slipping past higher-seeded teams.
- High seeds I would avoid advancing too far are Texas, BYU and Louisville. I think teams have begun to figure out Texas, as they've gone 4-4 over their last 8. Louisville isn't necessarily weak, but I really like Richmond, and if they play in the "third round," the Spiders could push them.