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Phil Rosenthal: 10 ways to enjoy your NCAA Tournament pool (that you probably won't win anyway)

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/20/2019 By Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune
a group of men playing a game of basketball: Ja Morant (12) of the Murray State Racers reacts after tipping in a shot in the second half against the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars at CFSB Center on February 9, 2019 in Murray, Ky. Murray State won 86-55. © Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America/TNS Ja Morant (12) of the Murray State Racers reacts after tipping in a shot in the second half against the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars at CFSB Center on February 9, 2019 in Murray, Ky. Murray State won 86-55.

If past performance is any indication of future results, I'm almost certain my NCAA Tournament bracket is already busted, and I'm not done filling it out.

The beauty of March Madness (just one of the many tournament-related phrases by the NCAA) is you don't have to win to enjoy yourself.

Which is good because you probably won't win.

RELATED:  Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket, matchups, more

Whatever the entry fee, it's a small price to pay to have a reason to care about Utah State vs. Washington.

Here are 10 pieces of advice that may not necessarily help you fill out a winning NCAA bracket but might help you enjoy yourself.

1. Always remember: Nobody knows anything. Experts, schmexperts. There always are surprises. That's the beauty of the thing. Perfection is elusive. Savor your victories. Shrug off your losses.

2. Don't pick all No. 1 seeds for your bracket's Final Four (a registered trademark of the NCAA). For one thing, another institution of higher learning usually sneaks in as the winner of one region, sometimes more than one. For another, where's the fun in it?

2a. Besides, if you're the sort of person who only enjoys cheering on favorites, you don't need the NCAA Tournament for a good time. You should still be celebrating your team's latest Super Bowl victory.

2b. That said, don't be stunned if a No. 1 seed wins the whole thing. They're seeded No. 1 for a reason.

3. Twenty of the last 21 champions have called the Eastern time zone home. With three of four top seeds all Atlantic Coast Conference schools, it's likely to happen again.

4. Don't bother with any NCAA bracket contest that requires you to worry about the play-in games in Dayton (aka the First Four, per trademarked NCAA terminology). As if 32 first-round games isn't enough pressure. Turn in your bracket when you're good and ready.

5. If some prig says something about how your NCAA pool is illegal gambling, tell J. Edgar Junior it might be gambling if you thought you had a chance. For you, it's really no different than kicking in on the going-away gift for Flora in accounts receivable.

5a. Flora in accounts receivable, incidentally, won the pool two of the last three years. Seems she had a cousin who lived in Jersey near Philly, so she has had a soft spot for Villanova that paid off big time.

6. Dislike of a school, its alumni, its coach or its rejection of your application years ago are all perfectly sound reasons to torpedo a team.

7. Ditto for mascots, campus locale or team nickname, though it's not clear whether the Anteaters of UC Irvine are off-putting or actually endearing.

8. You should feel free to root against Bradley and thin-skinned coach Brian Wardle for trying to dictate coverage by stiff-arming the Peoria Journal Star's longtime beat reporter for not writing puff pieces. They apologized, but that doesn't erase the contempt they showed.

9. If you feel totally lost, know you're not alone. Check out Turner analyst Charles Barkley. Sir Charles is a pro guy. He knows the big names - such as Duke's NBA-ready superstar freshman Zion WIlliamson - and he's more or less up to speed by the tournament's second week. But his early read on most teams is like listening to a guy ad-lib a book report by glancing at the back-cover blurbs.

9a. Speaking of Duke, did you know coach Mike Krzyzewski is 72 Bob Knight is only 6 1/2 years older. Roy Williams is four years younger. Did Coach K make some kind of deal with the Blue Devil?

10. When in doubt on your bracket, pick the team in blue. All but one of the last 15 champions has had some sort of blue in its school colors. Stupid, but true.

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