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It’s the greatest tournament in sports, and what better time to start than the opening weekend of spring break. March madness has arrived, and starting Thursday, the top 64 teams in the country face off in search of this year’s national champion.

Even if you’re not a college basketball fan, it’s hard not to get drawn into the excitement. Filling out tournament brackets, entering pools, bragging about crazy picks that somehow came true, what could be better.

If you find yourself filling out a bracket over the next few days, here are some guidelines for you to follow:

1. Have fun with it, because you’re going to lose. Seriously, of 20+ people in a pool, there’s only one winner, and it probably won’t be you.

2. Don’t pick a #16 seed to win. Sure, “this could be the year.” But more likely, you’ll have lost an elite eight team early.

3. Don’t pick all four #1 seeds to make the Final Four. It’s never happened. Ever. (But “this could be the year”)

4. Pick your upsets wisely. Sure it’s cool to claim a huge upset in the first round, but you don’t want to unnecessarily take out a potential final four team.

5. “What have you done for me recently?” Look for teams on hot streaks. Example: Arkansas’ late run in the SEC tournament should give them an edge over struggling Indiana.

6. If you must insist on a 12 over a 5, use tip #5 and choose Temple over Michigan State.

7. Fight the urge, don’t pick George Mason. Yes they’re a #12 seed, but there’s no way they can do it again. 7b. Notre Dame lost as a #6 seed last year. They’ve learned their lesson. 7c. Winthrop beat Notre Dame as an #11 seed last year. Two upsets in two years, really?

8. Free-throw shooting matters. Just watch any close game from last year. Memphis is throwing away points by shooting only 59.6% on free throws, and it’ll come back to bite them, eventually.

9. Louisville’s the best #3 seed in the tournament, enough to ignore tip #5.

10. Don’t listen to “Bracketology” experts online. Then you can’t really take credit for your victory, right?

11. Spend time analyzing teams’ strength of schedule, and then disregard it. It’s not about who they played, it’s who they beat. Tennessee knows how to play top teams, and has beaten them. Arizona knows how to play top teams too, but has lost to most them.

12. Ignore what people say about teams’ record versus the top 50 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings. It’s just a statistic that analysts made popular this year now that people have a vague idea with RPI is.

13. Don’t ever consider a team’s record on its own, it’s all about whom they played. Example: #14 Cornell (22-5) won’t beat #3 Stanford (26-7).

14. When in doubt, look at the teams’ conference. Default to the Big East, which was the best conference this year, followed closely by the Pac-10. When in doubt, go against the Big 10.

15. Don’t discount Xavier for losing twice to Saint Joseph’s this month. Sometimes a team just figures out the other team.

16. Home court advantage can matter, and hence, advantage to a couple of #10 seeds: South Alabama playing in Birmingham, and Davidson playing in Raleigh.

17. Pick the favorite, cheer for the underdog. Either way, you can’t lose. (Ok, so this is in contradiction to tip #1. How about we define this kind of losing to “you won’t feel badly”, and the real kind from #1 as “you’re going to lose money”.)

18. Don’t get cocky early. Remember, points from the first round are (usually) insignificant. Picking the final four, and eventual champion, are what counts.

19. And finally, go Bruins!

See page 14 for The Tech’s projected bracket, along with an empty one for you to fill out on your own.