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Jayhawks Tournament BracketEvery year I get another chance to make my picks for the NCAA Tournament, and every year I think my brackets are the best. And then every year (or at least last year) my champion gets knocked out in the 2nd round to a team nobody but my fellow Iowans have even ever heard of.

I’ve used a number of tactics through the years to make my picks. A few of my favorite include flipping a coin, throwing a dart, or picking the meaner mascot. The results are usually the same…by the end of the first weekend I’ve lost half my final four and by the end of the Elite 8 I’m mailing checks to all the bracket managers because (like the Royals on May 1) I’m already mathematically eliminated.

That being said I have experienced a sprinkling of success here and there, most notably in 2008 when I rode my Kansas Jayhawks to a Ruby’s Pub Bracket Challenge victory, ending a lifelong bought of literal madness in March.

Here are my top methods for guaranteeing success when making your picks in your bracket this year…

Where would you rather go on vacation?

This is usually a pretty easy decision unless you’re male and picking between Louisville and Morehead State. I don’t actually know where Morehead State is, but brains full of all the testosterone I’ve lost since I turned 20 will only be thinking one thing, and it won’t have anything to do with Kentucky. Saint Peter’s vs. Purdue falls into this category as well.

This year’s toughest pick using this criteria is the Southeast Region’s #2 vs. #15 game, Florida vs. UC Santa Barbara. Which is a better vacation spot…Gainesville, Florida or Santa Barbara, California? Being allergic to the sun as I am, I would choose neither, which leads us to my second method…

Which team has prettier uniforms?

For this method, I usually turn to my mom. She has been picking out my clothes almost every day for the last 31 years, and I have to say I usually look damn good. It’s tough to go wrong in a t-shirt and khaki shorts, right?

Joanie’s Lock of the Tournament? Don’t bet on orange. You see, Mom and I are both redheads (though I’m more like a dark strawberry blonde) so orange doesn’t really look good on us. Sorry Syracuse, Tennessee, and Illinois. Like the losers on The Amazing Race, you have been eliminated. Unless you’re this Syracuse fan. Then you can stay.

Which team would make a better drink?

Being a bar owner I’m legally obligated to include this rule, and one game stands out here: North Carolina vs. Long Island. I don’t care much for Long Island Iced Teas, but it’s a pretty good bang for your buck if you’re looking for a quick buzz. In this case ignore the fact that no #2 seed has lost in the first round for the last 9 years.

Vanderbilt comes in a distant second here because the recipe includes brandy, cherry brandy, and bitters. No thank you, I’ll pass.

Who is your team’s biggest rival?

This is also called the “Pick against Missouri” rule. Congratulations Cincinnati, you’re moving on to the next round!

Who has the hottest alumni?

Another easy call here…Kentucky wins hands down over Princeton. Ashley Judd vs anyone is no contest. Wisconsin makes a good case here but probably loses to Kansas State in the 2nd round because of this.

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There you have it. Your 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket is unbustable. Just make sure you have the Kansas Jayhawks cutting down the nets after the Final Four in Houston this year and you’ll be just fine.