It’s almost noon on “The best sports day of the year” but you still have time to enter your office pool.
Last-minute bracket advice is just good as four-day-old bracket advice, maybe even better. You’re more inclined not to overthink things.
See what are you waiting for? Some late (but always sage) bracket rules:
1) Find the guards
March is for guards. There’s a reason the team with the best guards almost always wins this tournament. You have to have the ball in your hands to make plays and when defenses tighten up in the tournament, who has the ball?
Kansas, Duke, UCLA, Villanova and North Carolina are your front-runners in this category.
2) It’s the coaches, stupid
James Carville would be great on CBS, or at least truTV. This doesn’t require a lot of thought. Pick the team with the best coach. If it’s a close call on the bench, see Rule No. 1.
You can’t go wrong with the usual suspects here: Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino (Louisville), Bill Self (Kansas) and John Calipari (Kentucky).
Jay Wright’s breakthrough last year provides hope for Sean Miller (Arizona), Steve Alford (UCLA), Mike Brey (Notre Dame) and Mark Few (Gonzaga).
3) Pick a team you hate
A tricky one, to be sure. You grew up an Ohio State fan and the last thing you want to see in real life is Michigan do well. But this isn’t real life, this is your bracket. Pick a team you hate and I don’t mean a temperate dislike. I mean there isn’t a circumstance where you want to see this team win. The upside: if they lose, you’re happy; if they win, you win.
There is no downside.
4) Be a little different
If it was that easy everyone would get it right. That means zig (Middle Tennessee to the Sweet 16? Rhode Island over Creighton) but don’t go completely off the reservation (Northern Kentucky over Kentucky).
Beware of the trendy picks, too. Lots of love out there for UNCW (vs. Virginia). Picks like that rarely pan out.
This also works if you consider environment. If there are a lot of Carolina fans in your office, take UCLA. If there are a lot of Duke fans in your office, take Villanova.
5) Get lucky
There’s no way around this: it’s better to be lucky than good. You could have handed me the Middle Tennessee-Michigan State score from last year in advance, Biff Tannen style with a future copy of Grays Sports Almanac, and I still wouldn’t have believed you.
You’ve got to get lucky. So it’s best to understand that going into the tournament and try to enjoy the madness.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio