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  • Seven tips for picking tourney brackets

  • You can throw a dart, ask your toddler for help or seek advice from your great-grandmother in South Dakota who only knows of a Tony Bennett who sings.
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  • You can throw a dart, ask your toddler for help or seek advice from your great-grandmother in South Dakota who only knows of a Tony Bennett who sings.
    In many years the evidence of shredded NCAA tournament brackets proves those methods are just as successful as so-called experts' approach of poring over efficiency ratings and trends.
    So what to do? Make informed decisions, or throw caution to the Wynn — I mean, winds?
    Picking all four No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four is the safest bet year after year. But what fun is that?
    If you truly want your bracket to stand out and stand the test of March, follow the guide to becoming a bracket genius with these seven lucky tips:
    1. Not the year to go blue blood: While Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina have rich histories, this would be the season to take a pass on those teams.
    No. 3 seed Duke has the best chance but would have to get past second-seeded Michigan to reach the Elite Eight in the deadly Midwest Region. No. 8 Kentucky's path in the Midwest is also too tough.
    No. 2 Kansas is full of questions without a healthy Joel Embiid. No. 6 North Carolina looks like Providence's next victim in a round-of-64 upset.
    2. Don't be Shocked: Wichita State will be the first No. 1 seed to pack its bags.
    The Shockers deserved a top seed and they're having another magical year. But the Midwest Region will shatter their dreams of a repeat Final Four appearance. If Kentucky doesn't knock them out in the round of 32, Louisville will take care of business in the Sweet 16.
    3. Figure out Cinderella: Harvard, Providence, St. Joseph's, North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin are all solid options. Surprise your friends by going all-in on the 12th-seeded Lumberjacks. Your buddies are going to pick VCU based on 2011.
    Stephen F. Austin (31-2) is on a roll. Forcing 16.4 turnovers per game, its defense can match the Rams' and can disrupt UCLA's smooth offense enough to advance to the Sweet 16.
    4. Know when midnight strikes: For Stephen F. Austin, that will be in the Sweet 16, where the Lumberjacks will be outmatched and worn down by No. 1 Florida's depth.
    5. Sneaky No. 3: Don't overlook Iowa State. The Cyclones have won eight of their last 10 games, including the Big 12 tournament championship. They would have to get by potential opponents Villanova, Michigan State and Connecticut. No easy task there.
    Ranked first nationally with 18.5 assists per game and sixth with 82.9 points per game, they're nearly impossible to stop behind DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim.
    Pencil Iowa State into your Final Four.
    6. Pick a winner: Going with the overall No. 1 seed isn't chic or risky, but it might just win you some office-pool money. Florida has veterans, a proven coach and depth. That usually pays off in the Final Four — as boring as it sounds.
    7. Non-No. 1 winner: OK, so you still want to take a leap with me?
    While No. 4 Michigan State seems to be everyone's favorite Final Four pick — even coach Tom Izzo compared the team to a surprise prom queen — Louisville is the better bet.
    Statistics guru Nate Silver agrees, giving the No. 4 Cardinals the best chance to win the tournament.
    Led by dynamic Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell, they have won 12 of their last 13. With many of the same players who won the national title a season ago, Louisville will know how to handle the spotlight.
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