We have brackets!

And if you're like the millions who will fill one out over the next few days, you're probably unsure of who to pick. It's enough to give you a headache, upset stomach, the sweats. Or all three.

But fear not. The bracket may look daunting, but you've come to the right place if you're bound and determined to wrestle the winnings from the office pool away from the insufferable intern or the person in the mailroom who believes a dunk involves immersing a cookie in some milk.

So here are a few things you should know before the tournament tips off:


It occurs every year. It's why the NCAA Tournament is the event that it has become. David beating Goliath.

The first place to look is the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups. The last two years three 12s have sprung the upset. They've won at least one game in the tournament every year since 2007.

This year won't be any different. 

Buffalo enters its game with West Virginia as winners of eight straight games. West Virginia has lost three of its last four. The Bulls feature the Mid-American Conference player of the year in Justin Moss. This one reeks of upset.

Some of you might know Stephen F. Austin as the man who helped colonize the area that is now Texas. But the university that bears Austin's name is pretty good at basketball, too. In fact, the Lumberjacks — one of the 12s to beat a 5 a year ago — is just as dangerous as last year's squad. They're a deadly three-point shooting team, hitting at more than a 38 percent clip. They also are menacing on defense, using an aggressive style to force turnovers and get baskets in transition. Utah won 24 games and has a Wooden Award candidate in Delon Wright, but the Utes were especially reliant on their home court advantage, which obviously won't help them here. 

If you've picked Georgetown to do any damage in the tournament in recent history, you know first-hand how quickly your bracket can be ruined. The Hoyas have been ousted in its opening game for three of its last four tournament appearances. In each case they have lost to double-digit seeds. Something about head coach John Thompson's Princeton offense hasn't translated into tournament success and Eastern Washington should be able to benefit this year. The Eagles set a school record with 26 wins and have drained an absurd number of three-pointers this season (335). They also shoot it really well, coverting on 40 percent of their tries. A definite recipe for an upset.


Do you know Tom Izzo's history in the NCAA Tournament as the Spartans' head coach? Did you see how well MSU played in the Big Ten Tournament? Izzo appears to have the Spartans clicking on all cylinders once again. So even though MSU is the seventh seed in the East, it has the potential to at least win a few of games. The Spartans shouldn't have a problem with Georgia, which only won two games all year against teams that made the tournament. That likely puts MSU against Virginia and its vaunted defense. The Spartans figured out Virginia's defense in last year's tournament, and if you can do that Virginia is not that formidable. 

With the way MSU has improved and played since a puzzling loss at home against Minnesota, you have to like MSU's chances against potential Sweet 16 opponents like Oklahoma, Providence or Dayton — none of which should strike fear into MSU fans. That said, Izzo's squad probably doesn't have the arsenal to get past Villanova with a return to the Final Four on the line, but it certainly will not be an easy out.


The Wildcats are rolling downhill toward a 40-0 season. They would be the first team to go undefeated and win a national title since Indiana in 1976. The reason it hasn't happened since is because it's nearly impossible to accomplish in parity-laden college hoops. But there hasn't been a team like Kentucky's in the past 39 years — a roster filled with McDonalds All-Americas who don't mind sharing the spotlight with one another. It's a similar squad to the 2012 team that won the national championship, but possibly even deeper and better. 

Could the Wildcats lose? Absolutely. Wisconsin and Arizona are at the top of the short list. Will they? It's highly unlikely. 

Picking Kentucky to win it all is a safe and smart bet.

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