If the NCAA tournament always played out like the experts predicted, they would probably call it "March Boring As Hell." But they don't. It's March Madness. The reason for this is that many of the results are so improbable that no person who actually spent the past few months watching college basketball could have possibly predicted them.
Now, if you're planning on filling out a nonsensical bracket this year, you're probably not somebody who spent the past few months watching college basketball. There are plenty of statistical geniuses who will provide you with sound bracket analysis, but that's just not your style, and I respect that.
Where most people see "potential upset" you see "two schools I didn't know existed, what's a Wofford?" While this may seem on the surface to be a disadvantage, it is in fact your greatest asset. That absence of bias puts you in prime position to not count out teams that you absolutely should, thereby guaranteeing that you'll soon be infuriating co-workers as you race up the standings of your office pool.
So if you are planning on filling out a last minute nonsensical bracket, I recommend the following methods:
U.S. News And World Reports Rankings
One completely nonsensical way to pick your bracket is to strictly choose schools based on which one is rated higher according to U.S. News and World Report's academic rankings.
You most assuredly won't win, but it'll be interesting to see if people notice your Harvard vs. Stanford Final Four match up.
Choosing Based on Colors Isn't the Best Strategy. It Also Isn't the Worst
YouTube channel Smarter Every Day and designer Emily Weddle created this great infographic to help those who are planning to pick a bracket based strictly on team colors. Blue and white are the easy favorites, but if you're especially bold, I recommend picking brown to go far.
A fast, simple, and suitably nonsensical exercise is to choose which school will win based the number of syllables in its name. If such a system determined the college basketball national champion, American University would be thrilled, and we wouldn't have to bother playing games.
Stick to Football
If you're an avid football fan but don't care much for college basketball, you're probably from Alabama. You also might find enjoyment in following the lead of Reddit user wyschnei, who chose their bracket based on which school they felt had the superior football team. And really, Oklahoma vs. Michigan State isn't that far-fetched of a championship match up.
Copying Obama's Bracket Is Played Out. 2014 Is The Year Of The Van Der Beek
As most know, every year Obama fills out a March Madness bracket, sometimes with great success. While many people will follow along with the president's whims, I say you should go in a different direction. This is the year to tune in to the gospel of West Canaan high school superstar James Van Der Beek.
Fellow nerds: I know nothing about college bball so I filled out my bracket w/ a code I made up. Prize if u crack it http://t.co/aEdRkoD46u
— James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames) March 18, 2014
He may not want (pause) your life, but you should probably kind of want his nonsensical bracket.
If you're not a Van Der Beek fan, weird, but also: CBS has other celebrity brackets to peruse.
If You Plan to Pick Based on Mascots, At Least Choose the Best Ones
Picking bracket based on a team's mascot is a time-honored strategy among basketball non-aficionados. If you're going to use this system, at least make sure you're truly picking the most superior mascots.
SI.com's Martin Rickman has created a fantastic compilation of the best mascots in the NCAA tournament. A quick review should save you literally minutes of research time. This wasn't Martin's top pick, but I think the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks are the team to beat.
Picking Based on the Best Players Names
SB Nation compiled this wonderfully nonsensical bracket that chooses winners based on the best named player on each team. They have N.C. State taking home the title on the strength of the name of freshman guard Cat Barber, but I happen to be partial to San Diego State's consonant-challenged Parker U'u:
Just Get Super Weird
If you're truly committed to creating a nonsensical bracket and are willing to put in the time, just try to get super weird. Maybe pick based on the second-to-last letter of the town that the coaches of the teams were born in. Bust out the old Ouija board and consult the ghost of nonsensical brackets past. Call up relatives that know even less about college basketball than you and shout "TEXAS OR ARIZONA STATE!" then go with their confused and likely panicked response.
There is no right way to pick a March Madness bracket, but there are plenty of wrong ways that are a lot more fun.
BONUS: How To Respond To People Who Question You About An Absurd Upset You Correctly Picked
"Well, they played a lot of good teams tough early in the year."
Saying that one team played another team "tough" is a vague sports term that could really mean anything, and thus people will probably just nod along if you use this as a rationalization for picking an upset.
"I just really love their coach."
If they follow up by asking you the name of the coach, fake a violent illness and run away.
"I watched their point guard play in high school and he really lit it up."
Once again, this doesn't really mean anything but it sounds provocative. But realistically you should probably just go with:
"I've been guessing this whole time. You've been bested by someone who has no idea what they're doing. Truly no idea. You should feel great shame." I wish you the best of luck.