It's that time of the year, ya'll.   Bracket time!  The time we celebrate the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament by scrutinizing, analyzing and hypothesizing each of its impossibly unpredictable outcomes.  I offer you these helpful hints. @JoeBianchino

Research: Do your research people.  Whether that entails nights spent discovering playing styles, strengths and weaknesses, resumes, geographic locations of games, or merely a few minutes of investigating mascot and jersey color, do your research.  I would strongly suggest the former, with specific emphasis on playing style, strengths and weaknesses, and locations of games.  You find a four seed that likes to run and gun traveling across the country to take on a 13 that plays a slow, methodical, half court game an hour from the underdog's campus?  Upset city, baby.


Advance All 1's and 2's: This comes from the "Don't out-think the room department."  If you're picking a 15 seed to take out a two - and you're not an alumni of the 15 - you're an idiot.  I don't even care if the upset actually happens and you're the only one to have picked it.  You're still an idiot.  Don't get cute.

Pick a 12-5 Upset: Now here's an upset I can buy.  You don't see a 12 beating a five?  You're wrong.  Trust me, it always happens.  Don't question it, just do it.

Pick Your Champion Early: You're not Jay Bilas.  You don't have Jay Bilas' basketball IQ.  So don't pretend like you do.  If you think there's a team who's a shoe-in to win the title, put them on the line before you do anything else.  If you don't, you'll drive yourself crazy parsing through absurd stats and before you know it you've got your shoe-in to win the title eliminated by a 14 seed because the underdog shoots a higher percentage from the elbow.  There's only so much information you can process, people.  And despite the tip above, there is such a thing as too much research.  Don't over think it.  By the way, if you're looking for a champion, check out the next hint.

Kentucky, Syracuse, And North Carolina Are Really Good: Lamar is not.

Prepare for Failure: Remember when I said earlier that you're not Jay Bilas?  Well, even he gets it wrong, so what shot do you think you have? Look, I'm not saying don't try.  By all means, try.  The fun is in the trying. But you should take a minute to prepare yourself , because odds are that the bracket which you've slaved over, ignored work responsibilities for, and lost sleep over, will most likely be worthless by dawn on Monday.

But hey, there's always a chance.  And maybe you'll have the winning bracket.  Hell, maybe there'll even be the 16-1 upset (seriously though, don't you dare pick it).  That's the beauty of the tournament.  You just never know. If you need a step by step breakdown of the above, check out my article of such ilk from last year.  Happy brackets, everybody.  Good luck.

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