My patented approach = tossed out the window
I've filled out 20+ brackets in my life, and each year I take basically the same tack: At least one #1 seed goes down relatively early; every Big 12 team represents. This mostly works, but it gets complicated because I also generally want Duke to flame out early (and with the greatest possible degree of humiliation), and I expect the Pac 10 teams to eat shit as well. History has not been kind to this approach. Did I mention that I usually send Kansas to the Final Four at least as well? So yes, I usually lose whatever pool I've entered.
Instead, I predict that history will be made in a couple of ways
Of course, I still have Duke flaming out and Kansas winning, but I've twisted a couple of the other valves in my strategy engine:
- All 4 #1 seeds make the Final Four. In every case, I couldn't imagine any one of them losing. North Carolina is playing in their home state all the way through. Memphis is good, and they're mad, and I don't think they're going to have to face Texas, so who are they going to lose to? Pittsburgh? Bob Knight thinks so, but I'm not so sure. Kansas is also good, and they're focused, and I just hope that Bill Self has them ready to go. UCLA is the only team that, to me, seems vulnerable, if only because K‑Love's back may be hurt. Then again, Ben Howland is a wily bastard, and I wouldn't put it past him to use a very minor injury to start messing with the minds of future opponents, a la Bill Belichick.
- The Pac 10 performs. I dare you to look into the seasons that each of the teams played. They played good teams, and they performed pretty well. I've got USC in the Elite Eight. Crazy? Maybe. But they finished the season pretty strong, even though Wazzu obviously had their number. Which is why I have Wazzu advancing before losing a tight one to UNC.
- The Big 12 fizzles. K‑State is reeling, and I've got them losing to USC. Oklahoma looked awful quite a few times this year; I wouldn't be at all surprised to see St. Joe's stick it to them. I've got Texas losing to Stanford, only because I have a hard time seeing Damion James single-handedly dealing with the Lopez bros. On the other hand, I do have Baylor and A&M winning in the first round, and I've got Kansas winning it all. So it's a minor fizzle.
Remember: You heard it here first. Probably not.