Opinion: Don’t take expert advice on your bracket

Michael Moses

Michael Moses

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].

By the time March Madness rolls around, everyone is all of a sudden an “expert” at something.

Everywhere you look, whether it’s in magazines, newspapers, on ESPN or your local paper (even right here in the Daily Kent Stater), people’s “expert picks” are advertised.

Year in and year out, these experts prove to be no better than the girl sitting next to you in Basket Weaving 101.

Nobody is an expert when it comes to predicting the NCAA Tournament bracket.

I used to spend hours on Selection Sunday, watching ESPN and filling out handfuls of brackets. I used to study the past records of IUPUI and Wichita State. Checking out if there was a chance that little-known George Mason could pull off an opening-round upset. Then contemplating if they could go past that. “No way,” I thought. And so did the rest of the nation.

Yep, I considered myself an expert.

The fact of the matter is, this is pure entertainment.

These ESPN anchors can say that they have been to every game in the Big East this season, watched every Pac-10 game on television and have a subscription to DIRECTV’s Full Court.

Still, they will barely get half of their tournament picks right.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s take a look at the numbers behind the so-called “experts” and their predictions for last year’s NCAA Tournament:

Jay Bilas, the world’s dorkiest Blue Devil, predicted just three of last year’s Elite Eight teams. Only one of his teams advanced to the Final Four. As for the national championship game, he failed to pick his own alma mater (a No. 1 seed?) and obviously missed penciling in the Butler Bulldogs.

Not too impressive, Bilas.

Or what about Hubert Davis, ESPN college basketball analyst? He went a respectable 5/8 with his Elite Eight picks. By the time the national championship ended, though, he was tied with Bilas at just one correct team within the final two rounds.

Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps have been around the game long enough to know a thing or two about talent. But they sure didn’t know anything about it last year. Both ESPN analysts went 0-for-4 with their Final Four picks, and 0-for-2 with their national championship picks.

Not too awesome, baby!

And finally, who could forget about the one and only Joe Lunardi, the mastermind behind ESPN’s “Bracketology” Selection Sunday special. He may be able to predict the correct seeds for the tournament itself, but dear lord, I hope you didn’t go with his predictions last year. Lunardi correctly selected just eight of the Sweet Sixteen teams, three of the Elite Eight teams, and went 0-for-6 the rest of the way through the tournament.

As you can see, if these guys are considered experts, you probably are, too.

When you’re filling out your brackets this Sunday, make it fun. Don’t kill yourself over selecting an 8-9 seeded matchup — just pick a strategy and stick with it. Go with who has the stronger team mascot (would a boilermaker crush a buckeye?), or pick by the alphabetical order (Kent State beats Michigan State). Whoever has the older coach, or which school has the larger enrollment — maybe the smaller enrollment?

You’ll be surprised how it turns out. I did it last year and my numbers were around the ballpark of the ESPN “experts.”

The bottom line is that no one could ever know who will beat whom. No expert will predict a perfect bracket.

You always hear about the girl winning your office poll who knew nothing about basketball. You never hear about the victorious ex-jock who took it seriously and studied film leading up to tipoff of the first game.

If you want my expert analysis, it’s simple: Don’t take expert advice.