How to fill out a winning bracket
As we leave February behind and enter March Madness, the most exciting, unpredictable and mind-boggling three weeks of the year, there are four nearly infallible rules that you must consider before filling out your brackets.
Now, I don't guarantee 100 percent accuracy with this method. After all no one could've predicted George Mason making a run to the Final four in 2006 or that Indiana would reach the championship game in 2002.
However, I'm fairly certain these facts will guide you to become [insert your company here] office pool champion for 2008.
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 â€“ or probably headed there â€“ 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. Too bad for you Kansasâ€¦
2) You must have an animal in the paint that can devour opposing frontlines without regard for his well-being or safety. We'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. They'll be sent to their room, beaten with a switch and made to rake the yards everyday for three weeks. Still you won't find a team since 1990 â€“ outside of those mentioned â€“ that hasn't had an all-conference caliber post player patrolling the paint. Sorry Duke, Butler, Washington State and Marquette, all clubs who lack such a big man this season.
3) You must have an experienced point guard because freshman point guards don't win National Championships. Mike Bibby and Gerry McNamara are the only freshman point guards â€“ ever â€“ to lead their teams to a title. That rules out Memphis, Arizona, Bibby's alma mater and Clemson. As great as Derrick Rose is, the numbers say, overwhelmingly, that he won't lead his team to the Promised Land. Plus, a blind squirrel could shoot free-throws better than the Tigers, who rank near the bottom in Division I in shooting from the charity stripe.
4) An unwritten and very unscientific rule is that you must have three 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 far-fetched, 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 Saint Mary's, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Stanford and Butler.
So there you have it. One of the following nine teams, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, Connecticut, Louisville and Kansas State will raise the nets in San Antonio 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.