I can be an idiot sometimes. Unfortunately, one of those moments happened to occur when I filled out my brackets for the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
I have a set of rules that I dubbed the NCAA Tournament Credo. They served me well in 2003-2005 when I won the majority of my
brackets. But for some reason, I disregarded the Credo and was punished for doing so. For example, one of my rules states: "Always bet against a
freshman point guard." Yet, I had Duke going to the championship, and Marquette and North Carolina advancing to the Elite Eight.
To make sure I didn't go against my own rules in 2007, I posted them on my site. I got three of the Final Four teams correct in 2007, and repeated that feat in 2008 (though in 2008, I struggled in the early rounds). In 2009, I had two of the Final Four teams right.
If, for some reason, I challenge the Credo again, please send me an e-mail with a virus attached to it. That way, I can avoid losing money filling out doomed brackets.
Bet Against Freshman Point Guards: Do you honestly want some pimple-ridden kid, who just had his prom a few months ago, commanding your
squad deep into the NCAA Tournament? There's a reason why Greg Paulus, Bobby Frasor, Dominic James and Justin Dentmon all failed to reach the Elite
Corollary: It's safe to take a freshman point guard if he's a once-in-a-decade prospect like Derrick Rose or John Wall.
Conference Tourney Heroes are NCAA Tourney Zeroes: Syracuse was unstoppable in the Big East Tournament. Gerry McNamara looked like he
wasn't going to let his team lose throughout the month of March. The Orange Men (I refuse to call them the Orange) seemed like a lock to make it to at
least the Elite Eight. So, what happened? Syracuse was just too tired to compete with other squads who were now also fighting for their lives.
Granted, the Orange Men probably would have been NIT-bound if they lost to Connecticut in the second round of the Big East Tournament, but playing so
hard against Georgetown and Pittsburgh just tired them out. The moral of the story? Go against underdogs who won their conference tournaments.
Catch the Early-Bird Coaches: Certain coaches are always a quick out in the NCAA Tournament. For some reason, they cannot handle the
March Madness pressure and consequently, their teams are perennial underachievers. Some of these coaches include: Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Al Skinner (Boston College).
Losing on the Road is a Big Deal: If a team can't win on the road during the regular season, how can it possibly be successful in the
NCAA Tournament? Wisconsin, Arkansas, Michigan State and Arizona all had trouble winning away from their respective arenas during the 2005-06 regular
season. None of them made it past the second round.
Go Against the Slop: Sloppy teams that have trouble scoring are always among the first to lose in the NCAA Tournament. That's why no Big
Ten squad advanced past the second round in 2006; the majority of them were slow, sluggish, defensively oriented teams. Check out who the ten
lowest-scoring teams in the tournament were that year: Southern Illinois, Air Force, Monmouth, Northern Iowa, Georgetown, Bucknell, Iowa, Seton Hall,
UNC-Wilmington and Penn. Only Bucknell and Georgetown made it into the second round, and only the Hoyas advanced to the Sweet 16.
The One-Man Nightmare: Teams that have only one great player never go deep into the NCAA Tournament. Some 2006 examples include: Indiana
(Marco Killingsworth), California (Leon Powe), Syracuse (Gerry McNamara), Kentucky (Randolph Morris), UAB (Marvett McDonald) and Wisconsin (Alando Tucker).
Only Kentucky advanced past the first round, and that's because it played UAB, another squad on that list.
No Heimlich Maneuver, Please: Certain players choke every year. It doesn't matter whether they're sophomores, seniors or seventh-year
students like Van Wilder. J.J. Redick choked as a sophomore, a junior and a senior. Thus, the Blue Devils wilted away in the Sweet 16. Keep an eye out
for players who choked in the tournament this year. If I think of some, I'll post their names.
Bad Conferences Means Bad Tournament Runs: For years, the SEC and WCC (Gonzaga) were infamous for producing teams that disappointed in the
NCAA Tournament. In fact, the SEC and WCC produced just eight Sweet 16 teams between 2001 and 2005. Florida, LSU and Gonzaga all made it past the second
round in 2006, so maybe that's done with. Keep an eye out on the Mountain West; those teams were awful last year.
Automatic Outs for 16s and 15s: This might seem obvious, but you shouldn't even consider putting a 16 or a 15 seed in the second round.
Do you want to be the butt of everyone's joke as your No. 15 seed loses by 30 points?
The Portrait of a Winner: Seventeen of the past 18 teams that have won the NCAA Tournament have shared these traits:
- Had a head coach who was with the team the year before.
- Scored 76 points per game.
- Out-scored their opponents by an average of at least 10 points.
- Had been seeded 1-4.
- Participated in the NCAA Tournament the year before.
Also, make sure they don't fit into any of the other categories I've listed above.
When in Doubt, Take the Better Point Guard: If you're looking at a matchup between two teams and none of the rules seem to fit, just take
the better point guard. Doing so doesn't always work, but it usually does.