NCAA Tournament 2012: How To Pick the National Champion

March 11th, 2012's Bracket Tactics will help you pick this year's national champion & finish at the top of your NCAA Bracket pool. These 8 tips are based on previous NCAA Tournament results. At the end, we will use the 8 tips to help narrow down your projected champion to a few odds-on favorites:

TIP #1: No team that lost its conference tournament opening game has never gone on to win the NCAA title the same year.


STRATEGY: The extra few days of rest have not proven helpful.

MEANING:  Avoid Marquette, Kansas St, and Iowa St before penciling them is as your champ.


TIP #2: All but 4 champs since 1985 have averaged 77+ PPG.


STRATEGY: Stellar offense usually leads the way (last year being an exception.)

MEANING: Consider North Carolina, Missouri, Duke, and Creighton. Be wary of Michigan St, Louisville, Michigan, Georgetown, and Wisconsin.


TIP #3: All but 1 champ since 2006 won their conference tournament before winning the national title.


STRATEGY: There is something to be said for late season momentum.

MEANING: Avoid Syracuse, Kansas, Duke, UNLV, Indiana, Wisconsin to win it all.


TIP #4:  Since 1979, the only national champion without a McDonald's All-American on the roster was Maryland in 2002.


STRATEGY: Talent rises to the top in national tournaments.

MEANING: Avoid Cincinnati, Murray St, San Diego St to win it all.


TIP #5: Since UNLV won the title in 1990, each of the past 21 champs has been from a power-conference: ACC (8), SEC (5), Big East (4), Pac-12 (2), Big 12 (1), Big 10 (1).


STRATEGY: You might want to think twice before picking a mid-major team to win it all

MEANING:  Avoid Creighton, Memphis, Murray St, New Mexico, San Diego St, Temple, UNLV


TIP #6:  The last champ with only 1 loss was Texas Western in 1966, and the last 2 teams entering the NCAA tournament with only 1 loss ended up losing in the title game (2005 IL & 2008 Memphis).


STRATEGY: The pressure of winning so many teams in a row can wear on teams.

MEANING:  Kentucky might make the title game, but might not win it all.


TIP #7:  Only 2 coaches with 0 to 4 prior tournament appearances have won the title since 1985. (Izzo & Fisher)


STRATEGY: Focus on teams with veteran coaches to win it all.

MEANING:  Avoid Baylor (Scott Drew: 2 prior appearances), Marquette (Buzz Williams: 3rd appearance), Murray St (Steve Prohm: 1st appearance), and Virginia (Tony Bennett: 2 prior appearances)


TIP #8:  Each champ since 2002 has had a Top 75 strength of schedule.

STRATEGY: Stay away from teams that played soft schedules. You have to play the best to know how to beat the best.


MEANING:  Avoid Missouri (SOS 86), Creighton (SOS 102), Gonzaga (SOS 78), Saint Mary's (SOS 104) and Murray St (SOS 157)




The team with the most strikes against it is Murray St. Other teams to seriously avoid winning it all include Creighton, Marquette, San Diego St, and Wisconsin. Despite high seeds, be wary of picking Syracuse, Kansas, Michigan St, and Baylor to go all the way. Duke and Missouri have pros and cons, while Kentucky has a better shot. North Carolina and Ohio St might be the best choices.