Bradley's mascot, introduced in 2014 after the school went mascot-less for 14 years, makes his NCAA Tournament debut. Even though the team's nickname is Braves, its mascot is a gargoyle, modeled after one of four atop the university. (Duane Zehr/Bradley University/TNS)
How to fill out your NCAA Tournament bracket
Every year, people fill out their brackets in a wide variety of ways. Whether you pick the teams close to your heart, the best of the best or you simply like the team name, here are some strategies for you to try to perfect your bracket or leave it covered in red.
- Picking the favorite
Perhaps the most common strategy of players is to pick the teams favored to win. This strategy is the safest bet, but there are multiple upsets every year. However, that doesn’t make it a bad strategy.
Duke is the No. 1 overall seed this year, and the Blue Devils have been led by their three star players: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.
Payton Johnson, a freshman criminal justice major, said if he doesn’t know the two teams playing, he usually picks the one that is ranked the highest.
2. Picking your favorite
The second-most popular choice is going with your personal favorite team to go far and even win it all.
Grace Chavez, a sophomore physical education major, said she normally picks the bigger schools to win but her favorite to win the championship.
“I have Old Dominion winning because I’m from Norfolk, even though they’re not very big,” Chavez said.
3. Mascot fighting
A popular choice for many casual players is to look at the mascots of the two schools playing. Who would win in a fight? Tigers vs. Bulldogs? Cardinals vs. Gophers? The one that would survive will advance.
A couple interesting matchups this year are Kansas State Wildcats vs. UC Irvine Anteaters and Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks.
4. Funny names
Faith Flick, a freshman residential property management major, said she looks at the seeds of the teams before choosing the winner based off of names.
“I pick the ones with the funniest names or the coolest spelling,” Flick said.
Dane Denniston, a freshman accounting major, also plans on looking at the names.
“If I was to do that this year, I’d pick Wofford to go all the way,” Denniston said.
Some other interesting names in this year’s tournament include Colgate, Gardner-Webb and Fairleigh Dickinson.
5. Upset city
Thomas Durham, a junior telecommunications major, knows one of the toughest parts about building a perfect bracket is predicting who is going to be a Cinderella story that year. Because of this, he bases one of his brackets solely on upsets.
“I’m like, ‘Who are all the Cinderella stories?’” Durham said. “I’m going to pick at least 90 percent of them to move on.”
Some popular picks for Cinderella stories this year are Murray State, UC Irvine, Belmont and Minnesota.
6. Coin flip
If you are very indecisive on who to pick to win, flipping a coin may be perfect for you.
Anna Sperry, a freshman sports administration major, said she does this if the rankings are close.
“I flip a coin because I don’t really follow basketball any other time or know who will win,” Sperry said.
Who knows? Maybe leaving your picks in the hands of a coin will work out better than using your head.