By Jeff Riger

I like to think of myself as a guy who watches a lot of college basketball, which is precisely why I will not win this year’s tournament brackets. In fact I never have won, EVER! But, yet I still play, pay and get depressed when my bracket is busted after the first weekend. It always amazes me when the office secretary, non-sports watching school girl or local Grandmother wins it all and then immediately says afterwards “I only picked North Carolina because I once visited there back in 1999.” It all drives me crazy. But it’s my own damn fault.

I recently sat down to fill out this year’s brackets and I suddenly realized that I always make the same mistakes. Flawed logic always does me in.

Let me explain…

Every year, while mulling over a 7-10 matchup or 4-13 game, I find myself always reverting back to the past. It never fails. I think about these games way too much. For instance, 6 seed Cincinnati is playing 11 seed Texas in the second round this year. I’m torn about this game. So some default switch in me turns on and all of a sudden I’m reminded of how good Kevin Durant was back in the day for the Longhorns, or how TJ Ford beat Michigan State on a Sunday in a game to get to the Final Four in 2003. Both those guys no longer play for Texas and what they did in the past has absolutely nothing to do with what will transpire this weekend, however I let it affect the way I pick games. I always use the past to decide games that I am undecided about, thus I am awful at brackets.

So below, in hopes of helping people like myself, I have decided to list my 3 biggest downfalls when it comes to the NCAA tournament.

3. The Rick Pitino factor
It never fails, I pick Pitino. Every year, no matter where Pitino is coaching, I pick his team. I don’t know what it is? It could be the Armani’s or the barely noticeable hair piece or even the ability to pull off the Colonel Sanders white suit, but I always pick the guys team. Of course there are worst horses to back in the NCAA tournament, and Pitino has been to a total of 5 Final Fours with 3 different teams so maybe you think you have a chance, but you don’t! Trust me! If a decision comes up this tournament with a Pitino team or another team, choose the other team and you can thank me later.

2. The Conference Tournament Team That Makes a Deep Run
Every year I watch different conference tournaments and every year I fall in love with a team that I normally would never pick to win anything. I remember when Lamar Odom was playing for Rhode Island; the Rams with Khloe Kardashian’s future husband’s help won the A-10 tournament title. Odom hit a buzzer beater 3 to beat Temple and I was convinced. I was sure that Rhode Island would make a deep run in the Big Dance. Oh how wrong I was, as Rhode Island lost early and my bracket was busted.
Beware of teams that get red hot in conference tournaments, they will always hurt you. Unless that team is UCONN last season, who of course won the Big East tournament and then won the National Title. That must have been a fluke! This year beware of Louisville, they won the Big East tournament and Pitino coaches them, so they have no chance of winning it all. You might want to pick them, but steer clear.

1. John Calipari
This guy will never win it all. He can’t coach. Sure he will recruit and have amazing regular seasons, but when the must win games come around, Calipari cannot be trusted. If you look at this year’s Wildcat team, you will notice the best player in the country in Anthony Davis along with other budding soon to be NBA stars. Davis is worth the price of admission and will no doubt be the 1st overall pick of the draft in the summer. However, Kentucky’s teams are always too young; they along with Calipari can never win a high pressure game.
This year will be no different, Calipari will lose. Don’t be fooled!

Other things that always kill me in the Big Dance as well are…

-Kansas State. I pick the Wildcats every year because I fear Frank Martin. I know he will never win it all, but I’m afraid not to pick him. I will predict however that Kansas state knocks off Syracuse this year.

-Stay away from the Tree, Stanford will never win anything and they have the worst mascot known to man. Of course this year they are not even in the tournament so staying away from them will not be a problem.

-Don’t pick an upset just because everybody else is. Everybody wants to pick a 12 seed or a 13 seed to advance just because it always happens. The problem is you have no idea which underdog will be the team to advance. Think for yourself; don’t trust others that are trying to throw you off.
These are the things that kill me about the NCAA tournament; hopefully they don’t kill you as well!


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