INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 01: A 165-foot tall NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket is seen on the JW Marriott Indianapolis leading up to the 2015 Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 1, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bracket is 44,000 square-feet. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

March Madness: 6 simple rules for picking the NCAA tournament this year

OK, the NCAA tournament bracket is out and you’re ready to dive in. 

Here are some general tips to follow for putting together a winning bracket. 

1. Someone from the First Four in Dayton will probably win another game. 

Many people make the mistake of automatically writing in the team that's already written on the bracket (instead of the blank awaiting the First Four winner), but that can come back to haunt you. 

Follow Lionel Cartwright’s advice and take a leap of faith! 

Beginning with VCU in 2011, a team has one a First Four game at UD Arena and gone on to win in the round of 64. The Rams famously went all the way to the Final Four that first year. 

RELATED: NCAA tournament central

2. Make sure you take at least one No. 12 seed. 

This is one of those things that has become a cliche because it’s true. A 12 seed has won 46 times, including two last year and three in ’13 and ’14. 

It might not hurt to throw in a 13, either. At least one 13 seed has won a game seven of the last nine years, including two in 2008. 

3. When in doubt, pick the underdog. 

It's just more fun to root for the little guy if you don't have a strong feeling about a particular game. 

4. Don't pick anyone who lost to Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes saw their win total decline for the sixth straight season, and they did so with a particularly uninspiring mix of low skill and poor effort. 

Come to think of it, think twice about picking anyone from the Big Ten just to be safe. 

5. At least consider picking your team's biggest rival to win a game or two. 

This is some insurance against feeling bad when said rival wins. 

And if they lose, well, they lost. Your bracket wasn’t going to be perfect anyway! 

Which leads us to our last suggestion… 

6. Don't take it too seriously. 

I haven't won a bracket challenge since I was a freshman in college, and lately it seems like I am getting worse every year! 

But I try not to sweat it because deep down we all know picking the perfect bracket is a crapshoot anyway… Unless I win this year, which of course means I finally figured it out. 

Happy picking!