Every year, 68 collegiate teams earn the opportunity to play in a winner-take-all, single elimination basketball tournament. During that time, basketball fans and casual participators in culture alike become a bit more invested by participating in the March Madness bracket challenge.
Many are tempted to select the top seeds to go deep into the tournament, ‘sleeping’ on the lesser known programs. But each year, there’s at least one low-seeded teams that are destined for an improbable run. And it’s more fun to root for the underdog, anyways.
Knowing which teams are most likely to shock the world may seem like luck, but it can actually be a bit more calculated than that. And you don’t have to be a die-hard college hoops fan to set yourself up for success.
With just a little bit of research, and the knowledge of what to look for, you can feel confident in picking your sleepers and come out on top. Here’s how:
Study the conference tournaments
Prior to the main tournament, programs will face off in localized conference tournaments to give Cinderellas a chance to gain entry to the tournament through automatic bids. But for fans, it’s an opportunity to scout the field.
Take advantage of this time to educate yourself. Smaller, less well-known conferences have some really good teams that may go unnoticed throughout the year, but explode in the tournament — like Loyola University Chicago in 2018. Low-seeded teams that win at this stage are automatically qualified to play in the NCAA tournament and obviously have some momentum going into the Big Dance.
Add ESPN+ to your arsenal
The best way to keep track of the conference tournaments and the subsequent national tournament is to take advantage of the content on ESPN+. It delivers the most college sports coverage and will allow you to watch all the mid-major teams before your competition catches up.
Everyone knows about the top programs, but this is how you’ll find your sleeper. ESPN+ provide live video and up-to-date content directly to the consumer over the internet and you can also download an app to stay informed on-the-go.
Focus on three key areas
Year after year, the teams that to go deep against all odds have the same characteristics. What they usually lack in star power, they make up for in experience, defense, and depth.
Teams with upperclassmen guards are dangerous, as these players are more comfortable on the big stage and commit fewer turnovers. These teams also understand the importance of team defense, as many of them have to work together as a unit instead of relying on one or two stars to shoulder the load.
At the end of the day, the NCAA Tournament is all about the experience. Here are our favorite experience enhancers for March Madness:
Big screen TV: Nothing beats watching the intense competitive March Madness action on a easily viewable big screen TV. The Samsung 4k 7 Series Smart TV proves that bigger is definitely better. WIth this TV, you can access all your streaming services with a just click of the remote.
Guest chairs: Adding a few more seats to your viewing area doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. Check out the Essentials Leather Executive Guest Chair for a stylish and affordable seating solution.
Indoor grill: To make sure you’ve always got an endless supply of good eats during the game, try an indoor grill like the T-fal Optigrill. It’s got six automatic cooking programs and adapts its grilling cycles to the thickness of the foods.
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