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A dummy’s guide to filling out your bracket


Filling out a NCAA Tournament bracket is a time-honored tradition shared by those familiar and those new to college basketball.

Everybody fills out a bracket, from President Barack Obama to the paper delivery boy, everybody does it. But the act of filling out a bracket that accurately predicts the winners of each game is task that most novice bracketeers are incapable of completing to perfection.

That’s why College Basketball Talk has decided to let you in on the secret.

We have decided to share our industry secrets with you, providing the most precise and logical advice towards picking the correct winners of all 67 games.

(CLICK HERE: To browse through the rest of our 2013 NCAA Tournament Previews)

1. Always, ALWAYS print out multiple brackets. If you enter multiple pools, it is not necessary to submit the exact same bracket. Hedge your bets.

2. Always, ALWAYS fill out your final bracket in pencil first.

3. Do the right thing and make sure to have at least one double-digit seed in the Sweet Sixteen.

4. There is nothing worse than the guy who picks winners based on history and prestige. Don’t put UNC, UCLA and Arizona in the Elite Eight because it’s UNC, UCLA and Arizona. DON’T BE THAT GUY.

5. A No. 16-seed has never beaten a No. 1-seed. This is not the year it’s going to happen.

6. Use simple abbreviations instead of full school names. This will make it easier to doctor your bracket when Oklahoma (OU) beats your Final Four pick of Georgetown (GU) in the third round. Trust me.

7. Kansas will either lose to a mid-major in the third round/Sweet-16 or will make the Final Four. The Choice is yours.

8. A No. 12-seed almost always upsets a No. 5-seed.

9. If you own a pet, you can ask it to select a winner by placing treats at opposite ends of the room. But if your pet eats both treats, you still have to pick a winner.

10. Do not pick a No. 8-seed or No. 9-seed to upset a No. 1-seed if they are from a power conference. They are just 3-35 against No.1-seeds since 1997.

11. Every difficult decision has an easy resolution: Which team’s mascot would win in a fight? The winning mascot advances.

12. Wisconsin always goes further than you expect.

13. 17 of the 28 NCAA champions since 1985 have been No. 1 seeds. Lower seeds make the Final Four, but they rarely win the whole thing.

14. If you’ve reached your wit’s end and cannot make a decision, don’t fret. Simply grab two beers and drink them as quickly as you possibly can. This won’t help you fill out your bracket, but it will make your work day a lot more interesting.

15. Be reckless early, but sensible late. Montana could beat Syracuse in the second round, but the Griz are not advancing to the Final Four. You want to be the guy who picked the Lehigh and Norfolk State second round upsets. You don’t want to be the guy who picked Lehigh and Norfolk State to make the Final Four.

16. Never EVER bet against Tom Izzo in March.

If you’ve followed these 16 sure-fire tips, your bracket should closely resemble the following image:


You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Carter leads No. 2 Maryland past Cleveland State, 80-63

Melo Trimble
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Robert Carter had 17 points and eight rebounds to help No. 2 Maryland beat Cleveland State 80-63 on Saturday night.

Jared Nickens added 16 points, and freshman Diamond Stone had a season-high 15 points for Maryland (6-0), set for a showdown with No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Demonte Flannigan scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half, and Rob Edwards added 14 points for Cleveland State (2-4), which was 3 of 12 (25 percent) from 3-point range. Vinny Zollo went 5 of 7 from the field and had 11 points for the Vikings.

Maryland led by just four at the break and took control by increasing the pressure to open the second half. A dunk by Stone capped an 8-0 run and the Terrapins led 45-33 with 17:06 left.

From there, the Terps used their size and depth to wear down the Vikings, who could not get closer than nine points the rest of the way. Nickens and Jake Layman hit 3-pointers and Maryland opened a 64-49 lead with 7:43 remaining.

The 6-foot-7 Flannagan picked up his fourth foul with just under 10 minutes left, hampering the Vikings at both ends of the court. A putback by Nickens and a pair of free throws boosted Terrapins’ margin to 70-53 with 5:18 left and they were never threatened the rest of the way.

Maryland was 15 of 18 from the free-throw line and had a 27-22 rebounding edge.

Maryland could not shake Cleveland State in the opening half and a jumper by Kenny Carpenter gave the Vikings their first lead, 25-24, with 8:03 left. Nickens responded with three straight 3-pointers that helped the Terps take a 37-33 lead at halftime

Maryland shot 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) in the opening half.


Cleveland State: The Vikings also lost their only other matchup against the Terrapins, 95-84, on Dec. 5 1984. … Maryland was Cleveland State highest-ranked opponent since Nov. 26, 1999, when it lost to No. 1 Cincinnati, 90-56.

Maryland: The Terrapins won their 29th consecutive game at home against an unranked team. … Maryland extended its winning streak in November to 16 games, having not lost since Nov. 17, 2013, against Oregon State (90-83).


Cleveland State is at Toledo on Wednesday night.

Maryland plays at No. 9 North Carolina on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kris Dunn vs. Denzel Valentine; Two 6-0 teams from Ohio battle in Orlando

Kris Dunn
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Michigan State vs. Providence, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Two Player of the Year candidates lock horns on Sunday night as Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine battles Providence’s Kris Dunn. Both players are strong threats to record a triple-double each time they take the floor and both are key reasons why their teams are 6-0. The Friars could probably use this game a bit more than Michigan State since they enter this game unranked and could use another confidence-boosting win for a team filled with newer players. As for the Spartans, winning the Wooden Legacy would mean another great accomplishment before December even started for a team that has national title aspirations.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 23 Xavier vs. Dayton, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

These two 6-0 teams from Ohio will meet in Orlando in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational. The Musketeers have six different players averaging at least 9.7 points per game this season as they’ve received great balance on the offensive end. As for Dayton, Charles Cooke as emerged as a go-to player early this season while guard Scoochie Smith has also been outstanding. This will be the first time these two schools have played since Feb. 16, 2013.


  • One of the fun teams to watch this week has been Monmouth and their amusing end-of-bench antics. On the floor, the Hawks knocked off Notre Dame and gave Dayton a scare and they’ll face USC for the second time this season to close out the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans won the first one 101-90, but this is a 12:30 p.m. EST tip, so that could benefit Monmouth the second time around.
  • Wisconsin visiting No. 7 Oklahoma is an intriguing Sunday matchup. The Badgers could certainly use a true road win here as they’re off to a 4-2 start. The Sooners get more of a real test after only playing Memphis as a notable opponent their first three games.
  • Also going on in the AdvoCare Invitational is No. 20 Wichita State facing Iowa and No. 17 Notre Dame battling Alabama. The Shockers are going without senior starters Fred Van Vleet and Anton Grady as they try to escape Orlando with a win. Notre Dame is hoping to close out the event strong after its surprising upset to Monmouth.
  • Action also continues in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy as No. 11 Arizona will take on Boise State, while Boston College plays Santa Clara and UC Irvine faces Evansville. Arizona will look to get back on the right track after the close loss to Providence in the semifinals.
  • No. 6 Duke gets an afternoon tilt with Utah State at home before they face Indiana during the week. It’ll be interesting to see if Blue Devil freshman wing Brandon Ingram keeps his strong play going from earlier in the week.
  • UCLA returns home and could badly use a win against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins went a disappointing 1-2 in the Maui Invitational and need to get back on the right track before the face No. 1 Kentucky next week.


  • Brown vs. No. 25 SMU, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)


  • Jackson State at Marquette, 12:30 p.m.
  • Rider at Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
  • Savannah State at South Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • South Carolina State at Kansas State, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Colorado at Colorado, 2:00 p.m. (PAC12)
  • UC Santa Barbara at Arizona State, 4:00 p.m. (PAC12)