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Dance lessons for 2014 bracket

Examining tourney patterns for the dos and don'ts of filling out your bracket

Updated: March 19, 2014, 10:02 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

By now I trust you've gone over the NCAA tournament field thoroughly, and maybe you're even starting to feel a little pressure because it's almost time to turn in your picks. I understand you're working on a deadline, but before you slip your bracket in under the wire, you'll definitely want to heed the lessons of history.

The NCAA has been running a tournament with 60-some seeded teams since 1985, and in all those years we've seen some clear patterns emerge in terms of results. As outlined below, I've taken the liberty of listing some pertinent trends that have emerged.


Go ahead and pick a No. 12 seed to upset a No. 5 seed ...

You know that 12-over-5 upset that the self-appointed "expert" in your office is talking about? It actually has a basis in fact. There have been just three tournaments over the past 29 years where the No. 5 seeds have recorded a perfect 4-0 record in the round of 64. The other 90 percent of the time at least one team seeded on the 5 line has gone home after the first game.

Best 2014 12-over-5 pick: Harvard over Cincinnati. The Bearcats will still be the favorites, mind you, but the Crimson have a better shot at pulling the upset than any of the other No. 12 seeds. Mick Cronin's team is outstanding on defense but susceptible to dry spells on offense, and the Crimson are pretty fair on D in their own right. Wesley Saunders and Brandyn Curry can both force turnovers, and with the notable exception of Kyle Casey this is a team that for the most part stays out of foul trouble. Look for a close, low-scoring game.

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