Do's and Don'ts for picking the perfect NCAA Tournament bracket
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The field is finally set for the NCAA Tournament, meaning everyone can get deep into reading previews in order to build their bracket.

Before filling out what upsets will happen and which teams will make the Final Four, check out these do's and don'ts for picking your bracket and wow your work colleagues with your vast knowledge.

DO - Pick a 12-seed to upset a 5-seed

None of the 12-seeds pulled off the upset against the 5-seed last year, but history shows these are still games to target in your bracket picks. A 12-seed won a first-round matchup in 16 of the last 18 NCAA tourneys. This year's matchups are:

  • No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty (Mississippi State -10)
  • No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State (Marquette -6.5)
  • No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon (Wisconsin -3)
  • No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (Auburn -7.5)

DON'T - Pick that 12-seed to advance any further

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, less than 26 percent of 12-seeds that knocked off a 5-seed have followed that up with another victory. Missouri's run to the Elite Eight in 2002 remains the furthest a 12-seed's ever gotten, and the last time we saw a 12-seed get past the opening weekend was 2013, when Oregon lost to eventual champion Louisville.

DO - Pick a No. 1 seed to win the title

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It's fun to think outside the box and pick a wacky bracket, but there's a reason teams get a No. 1 seed - they're really freakin' good! A No. 1 seed captured the NCAA championship in 10 of the last 14 years and 22 times overall since 1985. Villanova won the title from the No. 1 spot last season, and this year's options are Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Gonzaga.

DON'T - Pick a team that lost early in its conference tournament

Many teams consider conference tournaments to be trivial exercises, but the tourneys do a fairly good job of predicting winners - or rather, predicting who won't win. In the last 27 years, no team that lost before the semifinals of its conference tournament won the NCAA championship. Among this March's top three seeds, that logic would eliminate LSU and Texas Tech, as both programs were eliminated in the quarterfinals of their respective conference tournaments.

DO - Pick ACC teams to go deep

The Big Ten led the way with eight teams selected for the tournament field, but the ACC pulled off quite the feat with three No. 1 seeds. That speaks to the quality of the league, with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia leading the way. The worst seed of the seven ACC programs to make the tourney is No. 8 Syracuse, but few people would be surprised if the Orange knocked off No. 1 Gonzaga in the second round.

DON'T - Pick every 2-seed to make the Sweet 16

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The four teams that snag the No. 2 seed are considered to be among the best in the country, but history suggests the distinction can be a curse. In each of the last nine tournaments, a 2-seed has failed to make it past the Round of 32, including both North Carolina and Cincinnati last year. While this year features a strong crop of 2-seeds that could buck that trend in Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Kentucky, don't be shocked if someone goes home early.

DO - Take a chance with an 11-seed

Of the 20 teams that got the No. 11 seed in the last five NCAA Tournaments, 12 of those programs won their first-round contest. Of those 12 teams, seven qualified for the Sweet 16 - including last season's Cinderella, Loyola Chicago. If you're looking to take some chances with a double-digit seed going deep, the No. 11 slot is the one to target.

DON'T - Pick against Syracuse early

Despite being seeded 10th and 11th in Syracuse's last two tournament appearances, Jim Boeheim's crew made it to the Sweet 16 both times. This year, Syracuse holds the 8-seed facing No. 9 Baylor. The ACC program opened as a slight 1.5-point favorite for that matchup, and the Orange would likely face No. 1 Gonzaga in the second round should they advance. While the Bulldogs are a strong outfit, picking Syracuse for the upset could provide you with a strong bracket - plus office bragging rights.

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Do's and Don'ts for picking the perfect NCAA Tournament bracket
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