With March Madness upon us, the C&C staff filled out their own brackets. We asked them 5 important questions after filling out their brackets.
1. What do you know about DI college basketball? A lot? A little? Somewhere in between?
Natalie Smith: I grew up playing basketball and played DII basketball for a couple years. Division I basketball, ironically, hasn’t ever been something I watch or keep up with. Not until March anyways and then I always hate myself for not knowing who is good and who has had an awful year. I’m that typical fan who only watches big rivalry games or games my dad calls me and tells me are on. It’s why I have Duke and North Carolina in the finals…maybe a tad unrealistic but it’d be a good game.
Emily Littleton: I know a few teams that are good, but that’s about it.
Michael Chapman: I know a decent amount about DI basketball. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I can carry on a conversation about virtually any team in the field.
Seth Horton: I pay a little bit of attention at the beginning and end of the regular season and then watch as many conference tournament games as I can between classes.
Ted Kluck: I grew up in Indiana when Bob Knight was choking out his players and throwing chairs across the court and being florid and insane. Everyone worshiped him. The following names are meaningful to me: Knight, Steve Alford (the original Steve Alford), Damon Bailey (the next Steve Alford), Neil Reed (the kid Knight choked), Gene Keady (Knight’s nemesis, combover), Keith Smart.
Caleb Lay: I’m from Kentucky and I have a lot of memories watching The Tournament either at my home or with my whole family during spring break. I remember discovering Twitter right before Butler’s (They are my second favorite team, behind the University of Kentucky. I loved Butler since I saw them when I was a kid and A.J. Graves and Mike Green were kings of the Horizon League) second run at the championship game and tweeting maybe 20 times during the game about all the missed calls and about how angry I was about the outcome. I watched good bit of college basketball this season but it was mostly Kentucky, Butler and Duke (my roommate is a Duke fan) games.
Ali Renckens: Everything I know about DI college basketball I learned from reading A Season on the Brink (Bob Knight/Indiana Hoosiers). There’s a chance my information is a little dated.
Clark Hubbard: I know nearly nothing about basketball in general. I enjoy playing the sport, but I think being asked three or four times a day if I do play basketball has discouraged me from paying much attention to it, just to spite those strangers who enjoy stereotyping me based solely on my height. I followed Duke for several years because my dad liked them, and I’ll root for Alabama, but I’d say I know very little overall.
2. Did you do any research before filling out your bracket? What kind?
Natalie Smith: I didn’t do any research to fill out my bracket. I either chose schools I knew the name of or teams I watched the past two weeks and played well.
Emily Littleton: The only research I did was listening to my guy friends talk about their brackets at dinner.
Michael Chapman: I did some research, but not as much as I should have. I’m not a fan of historical research like “a double-digit seed has made it to the Elite Eight each of the last three years.” Every tournament is its own, and that’s what is beautiful about college basketball. For the most part, I looked at basic stuff like who teams have beat and how they have played against quality opponents.
Seth Horton: I look at the schedules and watch footage on the teams I haven’t kept up with. I also watch footage of two teams that I think could have a mismatch somewhere on the court (this helps decide upsets as well).
Caleb Lay: Initially, I was going to pick teams solely on Ken Pomeroy’s (the advanced analytics king of college basketball) adjusted efficiency margin ratings, record vs. Top 25 opponents, number of future NBA players on their team and distance between their school and the place they’re playing, but it was super tedious so I stopped. I then thought about how much money I could make if I could go forward in time so I could make every pick correctly like Marty McFly in Back to the Future II. Then I thought about how everyone would do that and we wouldn’t know who really got it right, spoiling the purity of the college basketball tournament. (That’s assuming a bunch of old, rich guys making tons of money on unpaid college athletes is pure which it isn’t, but I really love the tournament so I’ll say it’s purer than my dad’s jumper, which is pure. He beat me in a game of 1-on-1 a year ago at the age of 53 by picking me apart from outside. I think he drove one time.)
Ali Renckens: The first thing I did was a Google search to see if anyone had ever done really well entirely on dumb luck. Then I texted my dad in the middle of work day: “Hey, do you have some time? I need to talk to you about something.” He replied in less than a minute. We talked and then I looked up other brackets and found a “Madness Matchup Tool” that could compare different teams. I also looked at school colors and mascots.
Clark Hubbard: No, but I probably should have, huh?
3. What’s your rationale for picking teams in this tournament?
Emily Littleton: For a lot of them, I had a personal connection to the school. For example, I picked SMU to beat Baylor because my cousin goes to SMU. If I didn’t care about either school then I just picked the higher seed. Before you start making fun of me, let the record reflect that Caleb made me do this.
Michael Chapman: For the most part I used BPI and RPI mixed with a little flavor of gut feeling for the Florida Gulf Coasts of the world. I also watched some last minute game tape with our very own Seth Horton to determine how a few teams would match-up with each other. This was especially helpful to pick post-oriented Purdue over the high-flying, catch-and-shoot Iowa State Hawkeyes.
Seth Horton: Strength of schedule and tournament history are great ways to decide who wins. I usually don’t bet against Michigan State in March and I’ll probably regret doing it this year.
Ted Kluck: I pick teams based on the strength of their school’s football program. I’ve watched or coached about a million hours of college football, and while I’m an NBA fan, I’ve watched zero hours of college basketball (airport lobbies, restaurants, other people’s houses and Union games notwithstanding) in the last decade. I don’t feel like I have time for college basketball (again, Union notwithstanding) in a world where the NBA exists.
Caleb Lay: I went with my gut, and if I was truly stumped, I picked the team with the best player.
Ali Renckens: Dad emailed me a list of possible upsets. Other than that, I went with the higher seed or whichever school I liked the look of.
Clark Hubbard: There’s a couple hard and fast rules. 1) 1 seeds beat 16s. 2) There are no other rules. For the most part, I pick the higher ranked team, but sometimes I like to mix things up so I pick the team I know better. I’m really just playing blackjack for fun when I could be counting the cards, but I think this way is fun.
4. Who is your favorite team and your favorite underdog in this tournament?
Natalie Smith: For some reason, I really like Wisconsin. Two spring breaks ago, they made it to the Final Four. I remember watching them throughout the tournament and loving the way they played. (No, I haven’t kept up with them this year, if they’re not any good just let me have my memory of them). However, the underdog would probably be Rhode Island out of a personal relationship. Someone close to me played with Rhode Island’s leading scorer growing up and it’s been fun watching him play. It would be really cool if they made it pretty far.
Emily Littleton: I think Gonzaga is both my favorite team and my favorite underdog in this tournament. Everybody’s counting them out because they always choke before the final four, but you you know what? The Cubs won the world series this year. Anything is possible. Somebody’s got to believe in them.
Michael Chapman: Favorite team: Vanderbilt. I’ve been a Vandy fan for a long time, and I think they actually have a chance to make a deep run. 7’1″ Luke Kornet might be the most underrated big man in this draft. He’s hit 148 career 3’s, which is more than any 7-footer in history, and he is a very good rim-protector on defense. Also, Riely LaChance has quietly become one of the better shooters in the country, averaging 47% from deep on the year. Favorite underdog: FGCU. Two words: Dunk City!
Seth Horton: Virginia is my favorite team but is likely to be upset in the first round. My dark horse is definitely Wichita State Shockers, they have a history of upsetting Kentucky and have a chance to do it this year again.
Ted Kluck: My favorite team is Michigan because I’ve always liked their football team and also because the following names were meaningful to me in the mid-1990s: Chris Webber (most significant guy in the Fab Five), Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson (least significant guy in the Fab Five), Jimmy King (second-least significant guy in the Fab Five), Rumeal Robinson (coolest sounding name). Also my oldest son might kill me in my sleep if I don’t say Michigan in this space.
Caleb Lay: Kentucky is my favorite team, but for some reason I’m having a lot of trouble believing in them this year. I also want Butler to win all the games, but since they’re in the same (and hardest) region as Kentucky that’ll be tricky.
Ali Renckens: I’m picking Kansas to win because the jayhawk looks funny and kinda cute. I don’t even know enough about college basketball to know who’s an underdog in this thing, but can I say that I’m the underdog in this bracketology mess, and I’m rooting for myself?
Clark Hubbard: I still have some weird attachment to Duke, so I’ll probably be cheering for them. I have UNC winning it all, but that’s mostly due to the hype surrounding them. I’ll probably regret that decision. Xavier is an underdog to make it as far as I have them, but I’ve seen them play well in years past, so I’m hoping they do well.
5. Without googling or doing any research: What team is Lonzo Ball on? Do you know anything about him?
Emily Littleton: I have literally no clue.
Natalie Smith: Lonzo Ball–he averages 2 points a game and his dad says he’s better than Curry and MJ. I would hate to be him.
Michael Chapman: Lonzo plays for UCLA and his two little brothers, LiAngelo and LeMelo [Editors Note: It’s actually spelled LaMelo. This is proof Chapman didn’t Google it], are scheduled to play for the Bruins in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Ball is one of two or three candidates to be the NBA’s top draft pick in June. He also happens to be one of the best playmakers I’ve ever seen in college, and he broke Gary Payton’s all-time Pac-12 freshman assist record to prove it (I promise I didn’t use Google). Also, his father is exactly the kind of dad I hope I don’t become. If you don’t know who this guy is, just type in “LaVar Ball” to your nearest search engine. You will be disappointed.
Seth Horton: UCLA. He and Markelle Fultz are both equally likely to be drafted first in the NBA draft (by the Celtics!).
Ted Kluck: UCLA. What’s amazing about Lonzo Ball is that my oldest son’s middle name is also “Lonzo.” I’m just kidding. It isn’t.
Caleb Lay: UCLA. His great outside shot does this weird thing where he brings the ball across his body as he pulls up. If he doesn’t fix that at the next level it’s going to be super difficult for him to make shots in the NBA because he’ll need to use a step-back to create enough separation to get his shot off. He’s also one of my favorite players to watch in college basketball.