Make it or “Bracket”

Aleks Headshotby Aleks Mihailovic
Sports Writer



For most people March is another month closer to summer and weeks away from spring break. However, for sports fans, March is all about their brackets.

Every year Selection Sunday sets in, drawing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 basketball fans to pull closer at the teams that will secure a first place slot in their bracket.

March 15 was the official Selection Sunday where 68 men’s NCAA D1 college teams were entered into the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Seeds and brackets are now open to the public to start creating their brackets.

Relationships may be torn apart, frustration will set in, and luck will carry one’s bracket toward perfection; you never know what could happen.

The LHS Tom-Tom sat down with senior Mario Aguinaga, a three time March Madness Champion, to talk about his bracketology tips.

Tom-Tom (TT): What are your tactics behind making your brackets every year?

Aguinaga: I would have to say picking a lot of upsets and not picking the favorite to win at all. March Madness is a crazy time of year and honestly no one could ever predict what will happen in the tournament. But one thing I know for sure is that upsets will happen and they will happen often.

TT: Do you ever second-guess yourself while writing down teams in your brackets?

Aguinaga: Of course! There is no guarantee to win in March Madness. There is always a chance for an upset and you will become the Cinderella team of the tournament.

TT: What are three tips you have for making brackets?

Aguinaga: One: always pick a 12 seed over a 5 seed, it is the most common upset in the first round. Two: always pick a lower seed team to go to the Sweet 16 and become the Cinderella team of the tournament, such as 10 seed or lower. And my final tip is to actually do some research on the teams before you pick them. Look at the strength of the schedule, their top wins and even their bad losses. Don’t just go by what you hear from other people.

TT: What was the most amount of money you have won from the March Madness Bracket Challenge?

Aguinaga: Last year I won $500. I put my brackets in two tournaments and won both of them, one winning $300 and the other $200.

TT: What are some negatives being in a bracket challenge?

Aguinaga: A bracket challenge is not all skill, there is some luck added to it. So one of your teams that you might have picked to go all the way can get an upset and you can lose all hope in your bracket on day one. Also, I would have to say if you put more money on your bracket, of course a negative would be that you lose all of it.

TT: Do you have to watch all the basketball games before March Madness to have a better looking bracket?

Aguinaga: I wouldn’t necessarily say that you have to watch all the games before making a better looking bracket because there are always those people that know nothing about college basketball and make brackets that do well. I do think the more games you watch, the more you will know the teams in the tournament which will guarantee you a better chance of creating a better bracket.

TT: Do you believe that the number one seeded team will make it far every year? If not, why would you say so?

Aguinaga: No I don’t think the number one seeded team will make it far every year because there is always the possibility of an upset. But this year number one being Kentucky, I would put them going pretty far. I just believe that they’re too dominant of a team to leave this tournament via an upset.

TT: Do you believe rankings mean anything once March Madness begins?

Aguinaga: Nope, not at all. Rankings from the season are done and over with. I believe anyone has a chance at winning the tournament. March Madness isn’t all about skill; it also depends on the team’s passion for the game. And year after year you see upset after upset, so how could you believe that rankings matter?

TT: What drives your bracket decisions?

Aguinaga: I would have to say I just go on my gut instinct. I don’t second-guess myself; I choose the team that I believe has the better chance of winning, not who the experts and other people say are the favorites.

TT: What team has caught your eye before Selection Sunday?

Aguinaga: I would have to say the Duke Blue Devils. Even though they did lose in the semifinal game of their conference tournament to Notre Dame, they still have a lot of young talent. They showed they’re a dominant team by having multiple wins against top 25 teams at home and on the road. With Duke’s backcourt and Jahil Oakfor down low, I have no doubt that they will go far into the tourney.
With upsets prone to happen, and Cinderella Stories making history, the tournament challenge is a crazy competition. Luck can over-ride knowledge when it comes to March Madness. Good luck to all the students making your brackets and happy bracket making!

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