Sports Columns

March 18, 2014

Devin Golden: Fun is best pick for tourney

If you’re at all interested in the NCAA basketball tournament, then you’re probably filling out a bracket for an office pool, Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans’ $1 billion challenge or countless other competitions. You can even sign up on The Daily Citizen’s website at to take part in a bracket-picking contest.

If that’s true, then you’ll probably read tips from experts and insiders on strategies to fill out your bracket.

Guess what? None of those “strategies” work.

I’m the only person you should listen to, because unlike others, I don’t regurgitate unimportant, mindless statistics about how often a No. 13 seed beats a No. 4 seed. There’s little science to it — in fact, it’s all just a roll of the dice — and experts like to associate trends to the seeded numbers next to team names on the bracket.

I provide a different science to filling out your bracket: fun. Enjoy it.

You won’t get all 67 games correct using common sense, and you probably won’t come close to having the best bracket among your peers. So why not go a different route and try something new?

The most important rule is to forget about the basketball side of it and go with your gut instinct. It doesn’t need to come down to which point guard is more likely to get to the rim, or which post player will crash the boards. Uniforms matter. Nicknames matter. History matters. Word association matters.

So, here are an assortment of tips — some specific to certain teams and others general thoughts — to best help you fill out your bracket, and at the end I’ll even help you pick your champion. Here are nine teams and their tournament fates:

1. Duke will either lose in one of the first two rounds or make the Final Four. Maybe there have been exceptions, but all I remember is Duke going out early or cutting down the nets at the end. Safe bet? Pick Duke to lose to Massachusetts. Why? Because picking against Duke is one of the beloved traditions among college basketball fans (save for Duke supporters).

2. Speaking of Massachusetts, yes, pick UMass to win in the first round. Don’t fall for the Tennessee trap. As long as I can remember, Tennessee has always been God-awful in the NCAA tournament. I remember picking the Volunteers to lose as No. 4 seeds and everyone thinking I was crazy. Guess what? Tennessee lost. Why? Because they just do. Pick them to beat Iowa in one of today’s play-in games, if you’re feeling homer-ish. No further. You’ll thank me later.

3. Always root for the smart kids. Pick Harvard. Don’t look back.

4. Believe in a team that has a legit first name-middle initial-last name as its name. Stephen F. Austin may not be as prestigious as many, but picking that team just sounds like the right thing to do. Same for teams that are named after religious saints.

5. Creighton star Doug McDermott appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. Creighton is officially cursed. Roll with the Ragin’ Cajuns from Louisiana-Lafayette. No, not “LaFayette,” like the town in Northwest Georgia where you stop and get gas. Lowercase that “f” and pick your No. 14 seed. Dicey, you say? It’s riskier to ignore the SI cover curse.

6. Wichita State is undefeated. The nickname is “the Shockers.” They shocked everyone last year making the Final Four as a No. 9 seed. This year, entering with a 31-0 record, they’re a No. 1 seed. I bet they shock everyone again, but for the wrong reasons. Oust them against Louisville or St. Louis in the Sweet 16.

7. Oregon has awesome uniforms. Also, they’re nicknamed the Ducks. If I know anything from The Mighty Ducks, it’s not to mess with the quack. Ducks fly together. Elite 8. That knocks out BYU, Wisconsin, Baylor and Nebraska.

8. Connecticut (UConn, for short) just sounds boring. Pick St. Joseph’s in the first round.

9. Villanova sounds like “vanilla,” which reminds me of vanilla ice cream. If you like ice cream, carry Villanova to at least the Sweet 16.

And now, for the last tips — choosing your champion. This is a special privilege. Your champion is the team you ride or die with. You should feel proud to pick them. They should be cool. They should have swag. And you should feel like that team is yours.

Here are the four rules that I made up five seconds ago to help pick your champion:

1. Don’t pick any No. 1 seeds. That’s boring. Everyone picks No. 1 seeds. Stand out.

2. Pick a team that hasn’t won it all in a long time, if ever. Spread the love.

3. Find the team seeded fourth or better that has good uniforms and a good nickname. Remember, swag is important.

4. Pick a team seeded fourth or better that meets all those requirements, and make sure the team won its conference tournament.

Iowa State isn’t a No. 1 seed — but is a No. 3 seed — never has won the championship, has great uniforms (red and yellow) and a great nickname (Cyclones) and won the Big 12 championship.

Roll the dice. Have some fun.

Devin Golden is a sports writer with The Daily Citizen. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter @GoldenDev.

Text Only
Sports Columns
  • 7on7 day 2 '14 17 mlh.jpg Devin Golden: Friday signals gridiron days’ official start

    Seven-on-seven football was a good placeholder, but it’s time to begin talking about the real thing.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: Golf now in era of McIlroy after Open

    Royal & Ancient officials, under whose auspices the Open championship is conducted each year, were blessed with a sun-kissed start of the final round of the 143rd playing of this historic event.

    July 21, 2014

  • Loran Smith: McIlroy at his peak at Hoylake

    HOYLAKE, England — It’s the setting which enraptures those who appreciate the things that accompany a championship, The British refuse to let a downpour or two, intermittent and inconvenient, to make them fret.

    July 20, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Change is needed for major titles

    HOYLAKE, England — This is a good time to be Bubba Watson — long off the tee which brings golf aficionados through the gates, two Masters titles which puts him in the pantheon of the greats at Augusta, deal-makers hovering about, more perks than a palace prince, exempt status to the end of the decade and a cash flow that resembles a raging river.

    July 19, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Harman is living his childhood golf dream

    HOYLAKE, England — One thing about golf that has remained constant since Young Tom Morris won his fourth Open in a row in 1872 — when Ulysses Grant was president of the United States and Brigham Young was arrested for bigamy (he had 25 wives) — is that a little man can play the game.
    Football players are becoming bigger — often illegally — and basketball players are growing taller, but a golfer can excel at any dimension if he hones his skills enough to get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes. Golf is not a behemoth sport; there are no concussions, no strikeouts and no fistfights. Let the game prosper.

    July 18, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Brits know how to hold classy affairs

    HOYLAKE, England — Summertime is a royal time for the British, who have more sporting options in a six-week period than some societies have in a lifetime.
    If you think the U.S. is keen on sport — with the NBA finals lasting into June and baseball and golf dominating the scene — consider what takes place in the land of our forebears. Wimbledon gets underway the last week in June for a fortnight of resonating excitement. Wimbledon is like Augusta National or Churchill Downs — a memorable experience regardless of who walks away with first prize.

    July 15, 2014

  • A Look Ahead: State golf coming to Nob North

    My history as a golfer can be summed up with some well-known words from 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes — “nasty, brutish and short.”

    July 14, 2014

  • CharlesTodd.jpg Devin Golden: Todd leaving a legacy of success

    To many, Charles Todd is known as “coach Todd.” Some of the divers, swimmers and water polo players who have been on his teams in the Dalton area over the years shorten that to simply “coach.”

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry Case: Take a shot at improving your aim before you hunt

    Do you consider yourself an accomplished marksman with a shotgun? Are you satisfied with your shooting in the bird field or on the clay target range?

    July 11, 2014

  • Jamie Jones: What does Sting's number mean?

    Here are the notes and news items from the week in pro wrestling: Sting has left TNA. But will he resurface in WWE?

    July 11, 2014