Sponsored post up in here, in case you're wondering why I'm rubbing the fact Northwestern didn't make the NCAA Tournament in your face. (Although I was probably going to post something like this anyway.)
So, Northwestern didn't make the NCAA Tournament. This, for some of you, certainly, made you decide not to fill out NCAA brackets. I, not being a complete antisocial jerk (and also being someone dumb enough to think they can make money off of this even though I never do), will be filling out a bracket.
So, with no rooting interest after Northwestern managed to come closer than ever, here's a few ideas on how to fill out y'alls' brackets - and if you do, fill one out on Yahoo! and enter in the SBN pool.1. Fueled by hate: This is how I intend on filling out my bracket. Northwestern got bizzoned over by a lot of teams, and there's a lot of people I dislike extremely strongly that I wouldn't mind getting theirs, so the hate bracket is our way of payback for all the bad things that happened to NU. Ohio State, wouldn't mind if Jared Sullinger got dunked on repeatedly by anonymous Loyola (MD) Greyhounds, or getting beaten by Gonzaga or West Virginia in the second round. Michigan can lose in overtime to a upset-minded Ohio team - bitter at OSU for forever being overlooked by Wolverines fans. Kyle Rowley finally proves he has the talent to be a Big Ten center by dropping 32 and 16 on Purdue. Many a 12-seed, as well as whoever gets out of the First Four, falls out of karma for Northwestern's absence. My bloodlust runs high in the hate bracket.
2. Big Ten pride: My first rational bracket featured Michigan State and Ohio State meeting in the finals, and it wasn't insane. The Big Ten was clearly the best team in the country this year, and picking many teams from the B1G to go far won't hurt you. Kenpom sees OSU as only having a marginally smaller chance of winning than Kentucky, and Michigan State, in my opinion, is in the weakest region with Mizzou as the No. 2 seed. Indiana beat Kentucky in their one matchup - although by a slim margin - and could retaliate in the Sweet 16. I think Purdue will beat St. Mary's and Michigan should make the Sweet 16 with little difficulty. I even had trouble convincing myself not to pick Wisconsin over Syracuse in a Sweet 16 matchup. This is almost exactly the polar opposite of the hate bracket, but has a lot higher chance of success.
3. Nerditry: We go to Northwestern: that means we spend all day not talking to girls while watching Star Trek and applying copious amounts of pimple cream. So my initial reaction was to trust algorithms and therefore go off Kenpom's Log5 prediction and just follow it verbatim - it should give the highest chance of victory. However, I decided against it: Kenpom's prediction is way too chalky for my tastes - for obvious reasons - and in my pool, which rewards upsets, would likely not give me the best score even if it was the most accurate. So I followed Kenpom's predictions for the more important ones, but lived a little on the first-rounders. Luckily, there are nerds who pay attention to this as well: Harvard Sports Analysis created a model focusing on certain stats likely to create upset scenarios, and last year predicted Marquette, Richmond, and VCU would be the three most likely teams to pull off first round upsets, which they all did. Their analysis is back this year with a prediction of which teams are most likely to create upsets - I'll probably figure their work into my bracket a bit.
4. Never-made-the-tourney love: After all was said and done, only the South Dakota State Jackrabbits went dancing from the club, so, this probably isn't gong to be a very successful bracket to follow. The Jacks are probably going to get smacked by Baylor in the first round, but then again, with their strong hind legs, anything is possible. As our never-made-the-tourney brethren, we should salute them and at least pencil in an upset, if not a more prolific tourney run.
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