Jabari smith

Welcome to the best day of the year. With all due respect to my Irish brothers and sisters, today belongs to March Madness. I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas. I want to sit at the top of my steps and wait until 12 PM to come down and see what Santa left for us basketball fans in the opening slate of games. As the great Jon Rothstein likes to say, “This is March.”

Last year, the tournament returned to our lives after COVID robbed us in 2020. Without huge crowds, however, the tournament felt different. Plus, it started on a Friday, which was the worst move in sports since the ghost runner on second base in the MLB. Thankfully, the tournament is back to its normal start day on Thursday* and the crowds will be rocking.

*I still don’t count the First Four as part of the tournament. I might get their one day, but it won’t be today.

Take a step back and appreciate what we’re about to experience over the next 96 hours. It all starts with wall-to-wall coverage from 12 PM – 12 AM. Arguments about which 12-seed will beat a 5-seed will dominate your group chats. Buzzer beaters will go viral and light up social media. TUMS will be out of stock at your local CVS due to indigestion caused by wings and beer.

Is this heaven? No, it’s ̶I̶o̶w̶a̶ March Madness.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. Where are my picks? Everyone might fill out a bracket, but have they ever won a competition where they got to spend time on a national radio show?

In my best Norman Osborn voice, “You know, I’m something of a scientist myself.”

There is some science to the bracket. Some numbers to keep in mind:

  • All four 1-seeds haven’t made the Elite Eight since 2016.
  • Look at offensive and defensive field goal percentages – champions typically fall inside the top 30 for both offensive and defensive field goal percentage.
  • A 13-seed has beaten a 4-seed in 8 of the last 11 tournaments.
  • Multiple 12-seeds have beaten 5-seeds in five of the last nine tournmanets. In 2019, three 12-seeds defeated 5-seeds.

Numbers are important, but it truly all comes down to luck. The phrase “better lucky than good” could not be more true during this tournament. I rely on a few “feelings” when completing my bracket. Here are some things I look for in a championship team.

  • Veteran guard play
  • At least one future lottery pick
  • If they lost in their conference tournament, was it a fluke, or a sign of what’s to come?
  • When in doubt, chalk.
  • Worry about the Sweet 16, not the first round upsets. If you have 11-12 of 16 teams left after the weekend with one being your champion, you’re in great shape.
  • Fill out two brackets. Screw the “integrity” crowd. Those people probably have multiple fantasy football teams. I always make two brackets so plan accordingly.

My First Final Four

  • Gonzaga over Kentucky
  • Auburn over Arizona
  • Championship: Gonzaga over Auburn

My Second Final Four

  • Duke over Baylor
  • Kansas over Tennessee
  • Championship: Duke over Kansas

Enjoy the tournament!

Tweet us your predictions at @unafraidshow, or let us know in the comments!

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