Here in the Triangle/Triad, we're fortunate to have several great college basketball teams, so March Madness is an almost universally celebrated season. Once again, it's time to tune in to the tournament, cheer on your favorite team, and, of course, fill out your bracket with hopes of predicting this year's champion.
I am, without a doubt, a poor excuse for a sports fan, but even so, I enjoy getting in on the March Madness fun. While I love filling out a bracket to compete against friends, family, and coworkers, my lack of sports knowledge usually guarantees an early elimination. This year, I'm taking a look at a couple (mostly unscientific) methods to predict the winner as I'm filling out my bracket:
This is how many of us determine what team to root for, especially if you've lived in one area all your life. This dictates allegiance for many, but if you're fortunate enough to live in the Triangle and Triad, you've still got your pick of a handful of top teams!
2. Best Team Colors
This is a common method for choosing a team for those of us who lack sports knowledge. I'm partial to teams with one bright and one neutral color like blue and white or red and grey. However, if you want to base your pick on evidence, you can check out this winning teams' color analysis.
3. Best Mascot
This is another highly scientific approach to choosing the winning team and can be pretty interesting since it usually leads to finding out about some mascots you didn't know existed. A challenge is that although some mascots may seem cute, they are usually styled as menacing, which can lead to some very weird-looking creatures. If you need some help sorting them all out, USA Today has you covered and has already ranked all 68 of the mascots in the 2022 tournament from worst to best.
4. School Allegiance
If you had the privilege of attending a college with a strong basketball program, you probably already know who you're rooting for - your alma mater!
5. Team History/Record
Hardcore fans love analyzing team stats and records to fill out their brackets. While it takes a bit of research, this is definitely the best way to actually choose the tournament champ. Get started on your bracket by reading up on the NCAA's stats records.
6. Favorite Player
If you follow basketball, you may well have your eye on a particular player who shines brighter than the rest and root for his team. Of course, the NBA's one-and-done rule means you may only see your favorite athlete play one year of college ball, so you may have to frequently choose a new team with this strategy.
7. Favorite Coach
This is a variation of the previous method, but coaches tend to stick around longer, so you may have better staying power with this approach. Given that it's Coach K's last season at Duke, most of us in NC using this rationale will probably be rooting for the Blue Devils.
8. Chance/Random Picks
March Madness brackets are all about having fun and friendly competition, so you might as well have fun with it. There are many ways to randomly fill out your predictions, from alphabetically or by location across the US. If you'd rather throw caution completely to the wind, you can fill it out entirely by chance. You don't even have to do it by hand with this randomizer, thanks to technology.
9. Rely on AI
For the less invested among us who don't want to rely entirely on chance, AI can now do the heavy lifting for you. Get your bracket predictions from AI-based on team stats here.
10. Get a Friend to Help
Those of us with sports enthusiast friends have a personal encyclopedia of knowledge at their disposal to help pick the tournament winner. Whether you choose to take their advice or not, it's bound to be fun filling out your bracket together! Now, who's volunteering to be my personal advisor?
So, how are you filling out your bracket? Let me know in the comments or, better yet, give me your tips during our next date!