Bracketology: Predicting the Final Four

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    By David Andrews

    Disclaimer: Gambling is against the Honor Code of BYU and Church Doctrine.

    Now, with that said, let?s talk bracketology.

    As most sports fans already know, the month of March is devoted to a nonstop barrage of college basketball games leading up to the NCAA Championship.

    This is the time of year when office pools take priority over deadlines and presentations. But this trend floods college campuses just as much as office floors.

    Even here at BYU, basketball buffs are assembling in groups to test their bracket savvy.

    ?It?s kind of a tradition for me and my buddies,? said Mark Bell, a senior from Las Vegas, Nev., majoring in economics. ?Every year we have a pool going. It makes it more exciting to watch; especially when BYU isn?t doing so hot.?

    With 65 teams to work with and bragging rights at stake, a blank bracket can be an intimidating sight. Luckily, The Daily Universe has an interrogative reporter to help frustrated fans find friendly footsteps to the Final Four.

    Rule No. 1: Dick Vitale doesn?t know squat. The temptation to heed the haughty wisdom of sports analysts is what most resort to. However, studies conducted at New York University show that those who know the most about tournament history have the worst predicting skills.

    Next, implement the game plan. Do not, under any circumstances, submit a bracket more than a day before it is due. Absorb all the latest information on outcomes and standings for as long as possible.

    When ready, grab a pencil with a good eraser.

    Rule No. 2: Start in the middle by choosing the final four to outline the bracket. According to a study conducted Edward H. Kaplan, PhD, professor at the Yale School of Management, working backward is proven to work more effectively 99.7 percent of the time.

    ?The first step is the easiest,? Bell said. ?We already have our top picks in mind so by putting them down first it?s not as hard to make up my mind.?

    Pick all of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to win in the first round. The No. 16 seeds never win and No. 15 seeds have won only four times in tournament history.

    Be sure to have one No. 3 lose in the first round, and one No. 2 go down in the second.

    Don?t ever pick a team because it?s your favorite, they have cool jerseys, or they have a meaner mascot.

    Rule No. 3: Upsets get the extra points so choose prayerfully. An easy way to look like a genius is to have a No. 9 beating a No. 8. According to Sports Illustrated, this occurs 53 percent of the time.

    Rule No. 4: Do the necessary homework to maintain bracket control. Pick the teams that have been hot since mid February because they tend to perform better than the others.

    ?I?m closely watching my [New Mexico] Lobos,? said Ryan Sharp, a junior from Albuquerque, N.M., majoring in biology. ?They?ve been playing really well lately with a healthy team so I?m going to have them going far in the tournament.?

    Pay attention to venue locations to spot any geographical advantages for certain teams. A ?neutral? crowd might not be so impartial for the team playing closer to home.

    As guidelines, be weary of No. 1?s in the Final Four if they weren?t in the tournament the previous year. Remember, a No. 1 or No. 2 is almost always in the championship game.

    Even with all this information, nothing is a sure thing. So it won?t hurt to cross those fingers, hold on tight to that rabbit?s foot and throw on those lucky undies.

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