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Everything I know about picking brackets I learned from UConn

Ever wish that more things worked like college brackets? That you could seed everything that way? Top 64 pre-game foods. Top 64 college players. Well, now you can do just that with your friends, with the Allstate BFF Brackets, which takes your 64 top Facebook friends (an algorithm seeds them based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, exactly like the real tourney. Once the tourney starts, your friends advance with the corresponding seeds – till one is left standing. Check it out at

I do not think it is too much of an assumption to make to say that if you're reading this you are a college basketball fan with more than a passing interest in the NCAA tournament. Perhaps you're even entered into one of these fancy "bracket pools" that are going around (or better yet plan to join TheUConnBlog's bracket pool -- info forthcoming). With that in mind I figured I would create a helpful set of bracket picking rules for you based solely on what I've learned by watching UConn in March.

Rule No. 1: It helps to have a guy on your team who went in the first round of the MLB draft.
When I learned it: 1990 East Regional Semifinal: UConn 71 - Clemson 70
It is always good to pick teams that have multi-talented players. Why? Because sometimes it helps to have guys who throw a basketball 90-feet and hit their target exactly. It lets you do this:

Rule No. 2: Always pick teams that guard the inbounding passer in a late-game scenario
When I learned it: 1990 East Regional Final: Duke 79 - UConn 78
This was an early learning experience for Calhoun and the Huskies. If a team fails to guard the guy who tosses in the ball it always gets right back to him and lets him rip out your heart.

Rule No. 3: If a team lost to an opponent the year before you, they probably won't win but they might take revenge.
When I learned it: 1991 Midwest Regional Semifinal: Duke 81 - UConn 67
How's the floor taste now Christian?

Rule No. 3: Do not pick Ohio St. to lose in the second round if they are a 1 seed.
When I learned it: 1992 Southeast Regional Second Round: Ohio St. 78 - UConn 55
Why? Just look at that scoreboard. Ouch.

Rule No. 4: Free throw shooting is important
When I learned it: 1994 East Regional Semifinal: Florida 69 - UConn 61, OT
I don't want to talk about it so I'll quote the archives:

When UConn struggles it usually asks Donyell Marshall, the Big East Player of the Year, to take over the game. But he couldn't. The Gators limited him to 16 points-and only one of them came in the final 12:25.

His best chance to save the Huskies came when he drew a foul with 3 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 57. Both of Marshall's free throws clanged off the rim, and Florida was still alive.

If UConn won that game they would have played BC in the Elite 8. They were in the middle of a decade-long winning streak against BC. Shoot me.

Rule No. 5: Avoid playing teams in their home state.
When I learned it: 1995, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2009
UConn is 0-5 all time when playing "road" games in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately San Diego St. is, as the name implies, from California. Anaheim, the site of the West Regional Semifinal is also in California. Damnit.

Rule No. 6: Never pick against UConn in the West regional
When I learned it: 1999, 2004, 2009
The previous rule does not bode well for the Huskies, but this does: UConn has been one of the top seeds in the West three times before. In 1994 and 2009 they were a 1 seed. The result? Two Final Fours and a National Title. In 2004 they were a 2 seed. The result? National Title. Let's see how they'll do as a three seed.

Rule No. 7: Pick UConn to advance to the second round
When I learned it: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009
As UConn's head coach, Jim Calhoun is 15-1 in first round NCAA games. The one loss? That came in 2008 when AJ Price blew out his knee five minutes into UConn's matchup with San Diego.

Rule No. 8: Sometimes this damn tournament just will not make sense
When I would have learned it: 2006, if they bothered to play the tournament that year.
*Scene Missing*

Rule No. 9: If a team has the two best players in the tournament, pick them
When I learned it: 2004
Despite having six losses and a 2 seed heading into the 2004 tournament, UConn had a massive talent advantage thanks to Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon. That made picking them easy. Unfortunately for you, no one has that type of firepower this year so you'll just have to get lucky.

Rule No. 10: Don't be afraid to shock the world with your picks.
When I learned it: 1999 National Championship: UConn 77 - Duke 74
You never know, it could happen: