Five steps to winning the Big Dance (from a kid who’s never won)


A look at the competitors in the big dance.

By now, the Big Dance, the bracket league that hundreds of Staples students compete in every year during the NCAA Tournament for the chance to receive over $1000 in winnings, is quite renowned. Part of the group’s appeal is that among all of the competitors, friends, and rivals, there is only one winner: first place. So with the tourney fast approaching, here are five steps toward winning it all, from a kid who has yet to win himself.

1. Watch conference tournament week

The average participant in the Big Dance is not a college basketball aficionado, and therefore hasn’t watched many games. Conference tournament week, however, is a great way to study up on every team, seeing as though every potential tournament squad will be on display. Conferences ranging from the mid-majors, like the Missouri Valley Conference, home to a probable 1-seed Wichita State, to the ACC, will be showcasing everything each team has to offer, in tournament-style fashion.

2. Don’t do too much extraneous research

Of course, within the Big Dance there will be those 10 or so kids that do an excess and unhealthy amount of research. I should know because last year that was me; I thought by looking up a team’s offensive rebounding efforts against teams with more than average height, I would have an advantage. I do recommend doing a bit of research, as in the past that has helped me call a lot of early round upsets, but I don’t remember a year in recent history where my champion pick has made it out of the Sweet 16. Plus, research will never factor in the most exciting aspect of March Madness: the Cinderella upsets. What statistic out there showed No. 15 seed Lehigh was going to upset No. 2 Duke in 2012? There isn’t one, so don’t look for it.

3. Don’t pick all the one seeds for the Final Four

It has happened one time. You have a better chance of being right by picking another 15 to beat a 2. President Obama, who famously picks all one seeds almost every year, is not the best bracketologist. Plus, plenty of the aforementioned Staples kids who don’t watch much hoops do that every year. Make yourself unique.

4. Forget your rooting interests

In a state where there is not a single Big 4 professional sports team, colleges like UConn and Fairfield U, when they’re in the tournament, tend to receive way too much support from biased Westporters. Fairfield has four conference wins this year, so it’s not possible to pick them for anything, but I’m speaking generally here. Keep rooting interests out of your selection process.

5. Watch the trash talk

Over the years it has not been uncommon for the administration to receive copies of the smack talk posted on the infamous group message board. So if a few guys go over the line with the banter, chances are you will end up in the office. Then kicked out of the group. And if you’re kicked out, you can’t win, so don’t get yourself eliminated before the first tip.