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How To Fill Out A Winning Bracket

I have four tried and true, nearly infallible rules that will help you win your NCAA pool or bracket contest.

These were posted in a similar column on KING that you can find here

This is a 2009 reboot.

1) Your team must have a head coach who understands the difference between a fast break and a lunch break. Since 1980, Steve Fisher, who led Michigan to the 1989 title with the interim tag, is the only coach not already in the hall of fame—or probably headed there—to win a championship. You could argue the resumes of Tubby Smith, Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams, but I think they’ll eventually be in. The rest of the winners read like a who’s who of college coaches, including names like Crum, Thompson, Dean, Pitino, Calhoun, Tubby, Roy, Coach K, Roy and Donovan. Poor Wake Forest…

2) You must have an animal in the paint that can devour opposing frontlines without regard for his wellbeing or safety. I’ll concede Arizona’s perimeter-oriented team from 1997, UConn’s Richard Hamilton-led upset of Duke in 1999 and the Carmelo Anthony-driven Syracuse triumph in 2003 as rule deviants. You won’t find a team since 1990—outside of those mentioned—that hasn’t had an all-conference caliber post player patrolling the paint. Sorry West Virginia, Boston College, Marquette, Villanova, Marland, Xavier, UCLA, Illinois and Syracuse, all clubs who lack such a big man this season.

3) You must have an experienced point guard–freshman point guards don’t win national championships. Mike Bibby and Gerry McNamara are the only freshman point guards—ever—to lead their teams to a title. The curse struck Memphis hard last season. Despite Derrick Rose’s great play, the freshman missed a couple of free throws and eventually succumbed to this stone-cold rule.

Thanks for playing Washington and Memphis. Kind of sucks for the Tigers—two years in a row that a freshman point guard will keep them from winning the title.

4) An unwritten and very unscientific rule is that you must have three potential NBA players on your roster to compete. Not just guys who might get drafted, but players who will stick in the league. At first glance that might sound a bit farfetched, but again the rule proves to be true. Since 1990, only four teams that went on to win the championship, ’93 UNC, ’95 UCLA, ’99 UConn and ’03 Syracuse, have lacked at least three players to stick in the NBA. They’ve all had two. So, so long to Utah, Cleveland State, Dayton, North Dakota St., Michigan State, BYU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Missouri, Utah St, Cornell, California, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Butler, Arizona State, Temple and Clemson.

So there you have it. One of the following five teams—Louisville, UConn, Pittsburgh, UNC or Gonzaga—will raise the nets in Detroit in April. I know that’s not exactly going out on a limb, but that is what the rules give us.

Mark it down. Type it. Send it. Fax it. Ship it.

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