Smith Says

By ALEX SMITH

For a sports fan, the month of February is pretty terrible. After the Super Bowl is completed (usually on the first Sunday of the month), there is really nothing going on for the rest of the month. Baseball pitchers and catchers report, which is fun to talk about, but even the biggest fan gets bored with spring training games. Hockey and basketball are smack in the middle of their tedious seasons, and football is still months away. But then, like a ray of light from the heavens, the calendar rolls to March, which means only one thing: Madness.

That’s right, people. It’s the one time every year when everyone and their mother becomes a college basketball expert. It’s the time when colleagues and classmates chip in a few bucks to see whose crystal ball actually works. Remember, you could just play for fun. I’m not condoning gambling, but it tends to make people more invested.

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and since everyone is an expert right now, that means I am included in that list. Here are some notable facts about my bracket…

I’m staying away from any major upsets in the first round this year. I only have six total lower seeds winning in the first round, with No. 12 seed Oregon knocking off No. 5 seed Oklahoma State in the Midwest as my biggest upset. A 12-seed beats a 5-seed every year, so you have to pick one. It’s science; don’t argue. But, even in a year where the top teams in basketball have failed to hold on to that title for any large period of time, I still think that the talent level for the high seeds will be enough to get through at least the first round, for the most part.

Another tip that I would give is to not root for your favorite team. Picking hometown or childhood favorites is an easy way to bust your bracket. I grew up as a Duke fan and used to pick them every year, but the fact is that at one point or another, we all need to grow up. Peter Pan isn’t going to fly your crappy bracket away to Neverland. Case in point, I have Duke losing to Creighton in the second round.

Don’t count out the mid-major schools. Just because teams don’t play in the Big Ten or Big East doesn’t mean they can’t make a big run. With that said, keep in mind the A-10 conference. The A-10 is the best non-BCS conference in college basketball, and I think that two teams will make it very deep in the tournament. I have VCU and St. Louis in my final four along with Ohio State and Indiana.

Alright everybody, if you haven’t filled out a bracket yet, there’s nothing holding you back. Notice that I said singular bracket, not plural, because if you really want to show your college hoops smarts, then it doesn’t make sense to have different brackets. That’s like taking the same test over and over again and then bragging when you finally pass. By the way, I have Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and the Indiana Hoosiers over St. Louis in the championship game. Happy picking!

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