With the 2011 NCAA Tournament tipping off in earnest tomorrow morning, the time has come to look back at the 2010 NCAA Tournament and determine how many Cinderellas have been invited to the Big Dance.
Last March, the following teams pulled off the upset in an exciting first round:
10. Georgia Tech defeated 7. Oklahoma State
10. St. Mary's (CA) defeated 7. Richmond
11. Washington defeated 6. Marquette
11. Old Dominion defeated 6. Notre Dame
12. Cornell defeated 5. Temple
13. Murray State defeated 4. Vanderbilt
14. Ohio defeated 3. Georgetown
By the Sweet 16, only St. Mary's, Cornell and Washington were still alive. What does that mean when you're finalizing your brackets for March Madness 2011?
For those still mulling this over, here's a few tips:
Dream big. Chances are, you're not going to pick the perfect bracket, nor will you win your office pool. The vast majority of people who put money down for competitions of this nature lose their buy-in.
The proof is in the pudding. As the quality of NCAA basketball diminishes due to college players leaving early for their NBA pay day, it appears as though the talent gap between a No. 3 seed and a No. 14 seed has quickly gotten smaller. Don't be afraid to pick an upset special, as a team like Wofford is bound to upset a team like BYU.
Expose the weak members of the herd. There are 11 Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament. The lowest ranking of all of them is Marquette, an 11 seed. They are only 3-9 against ranked teams in 2010-2011, while their opponent, Xavier, has only played one ranked team all year (a 20-point loss to Cincinnati, another Big East team). Marquette has been battle-seasoned all year long -- they are a prime candidate to pull off the upset.
Follow your instincts. When you really, really think the Belmont Bruins are going to pull off the victory against the Wisconsin Badgers, pull the trigger. This is the same Badgers team that was accused of setting back the sport of college basketball decades during an ugly 36-33 loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. Fear the bear, Badger fans.