A guide to winning your NCAA March Madness bracket

(Graphic by Stephanie Truong)
(Graphic by Stephanie Truong)

A season where No. 1 ranked team after No. 1 ranked team fell down the rankings ladder, where the underdog upset became a weekly rite of passage and the sentimental statement that, “this year’s NCAA tournament is anyone’s game” becomes repeated ad nauseum, this year’s March Madness has shaped up to be one of the best for not only entertainment, but for winning some serious money.

Thursday marks the start of North America’s biggest basketball tournament held annually each March, where elite college teams fight it out for the NCAA championship.

Millions of North Americans will be frantically filling out their prediction brackets for the tournament, choosing the winners of each game and attempting to predict who wins the tournament. For some, the prize for winning their bracket may range from just a small sum of 20 dollars in a friendly wager, or five million dollars in an online bracket held by Yahoo Sports.

From a student’s perspective, this type of money could roughly buy you 1,538,461.54 drinks at Phil’s.

For those of you that don’t watch college basketball, but have that craving for cash money, have no fear. These following ten teams are promising choices to carry your bracket through the tournament- even if you lack any basketball knowledge.


10. Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels – Rank: 12

The Rebels have proved scouts wrong this season when they were said to have never be close to qualifying for March Madness. Don’t look now, but they have won seven of their last eight games and even managed to pull off a clean sweep at the SEC tournament. Don’t shy away from advancing these guys are in your bracket.


9. Davidson Wildcats – Rank: 14

No, this won’t be as exhilarating as the Stephen Curry era of Davidson basketball, but look for the feisty Wildcat pack to stun opponents in the tournament. Winning 17 games in a row with an average victory margin of 16 points, it’s hard not to pick them.


8. New Mexico Lobos – Rank: 3

Boasting a 16-3 record since the New Year and hammering the opposition in the tough Mountain West Conference, it makes the Lobos look like a guaranteed pick. Oh, did I mention they have beat eight of the opponents registered in their upcoming tournament conference already this season?


7. Memphis Tigers – Rank: 6

Having only lost one game this season, they won their respective conference tournament and have had a perfect record 16-0 in the conference USA regular season. Need I say more?


6. Miami Hurricanes – Rank: 2

Strom warning! No pun intended. The Hurricanes have clobbered North Carolina three times this season, beat Duke once and managed to win the ACC regular season, all while winning conference’s postseason tournament in the same season – something few teams have ever done before. Ink the ‘Canes in your bracket, fast.


5. Ohio State Buckeyes – Rank: 2

On the heels of losing star Jared Sullinger to the Boston Celtics, the Buckeye squad showed no signs of slowing down. With a 14-4 record in a tough conference, and decisively winning the Big Ten tourney, Ohio State is on everyone’s mind while picking their brackets.


4. Saint Louis Billikens – Rank: 4

What the heck is a Billiken? The team is more than just a weird name with a win in 15 of their last 16 games. In this span, they beat VCU twice and even Butler three times… Impressive. While other teams hog the spotlight, look for the Billikens to possibly pave a surprising road to the conference finals.


3. Kansas Jayhawks – Rank: 1

Looking for revenge after being defeated in the finals last year, the Jayhawks are a talented bunch to play against. Ten of their last 11 games have been wins, and those wins of all been by at least 20 points or more. They show no mercy. The No. 1-ranked team speaks for itself – fear the Jayhawk.


2. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Rank: 1

Another No. 1-ranked team alongside makes the top ten. When you have to count how many months ago it was since Gonzaga has last lost, it’s hard not to put them in the top ten. They are 22-1 and haven’t dropped a game since mid-December, pummeling teams to a 16-0 record through the West Coast Conference regular season. Could it be the year the Dogs shake their Cinderella reputation?


1. Louisville Cardinals – Rank: 1  

Since winning the Big East Tourney a year ago, Louisville successfully defended it once again. An astonishing 13-1 record since January combined with outright NBA calibre potential on the team, the Cardinals are the common favorite to be crowned the champion this year.


Get ready to either perform a joyous victory dance or yell profane words at your television this Thursday. No promises on these ten teams performance, but they should help propel you towards a hefty cash reward.

Enjoy the tournament and good luck bracketers!

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