March Madness 2017 Pick 'Em: Elite 8
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March Madness 2017 Pick 'Em: Elite 8

Who will see the third weekend of the Tournament?

(Update 3/25): After a exciting Sweet 16 round, there are only eight teams left to fight things out. The four winners head to Glendale for a chance to play for the title. Who do you think will be on of the final four teams standing?

Well, we're down to 16. After 48 games this weekend, there's only 15 left to decide who will be raising the trophy in Arizona next week.

How is your bracket doing thus far? If you're anything like me, it is probably in the dumpster, but that's ok. You can still have your voice heard by voting in this poll below.

Wondering how the public has been doing in picking the winners thusfar? Check out the infographic below.

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Pretending You Care About March Madness

It's not easy to look interested, ya know

It's finally here, someone's favorite time of the year: March Madness. For sports enthusiasts, this is the pinnacle of their entire sports-loving existence; for others, it's an excuse to yell about athletics and drink in copious amounts.

If you're like me, you probably fall into the latter, but since you're just so hip and cool you want the world to believe you can sport with the best of them. So I am here to give you some pointers (a sports pun, how fitting) on how to actually look like you care about the Madness that is March.

1. Make a Bracket:
I know this seems like a terrifying concept, especially when you can't name more than two teams that are playing at any given time, but hear me out. Making a bracket will force you to learn the teams and watch the games so you can, at least, pretend to know something when shouting along with everyone else. As an added bonus, you can also see how elite your guessing skills really are.

2. Pick a Favorite Team:
Once you have a favorite team you can start throwing their name around in sports conversations like a champion (the puns!!).

3. Frequent Sports Bars:
This is where the action is. Imagine a magical land with lots of high-strung men with too much testosterone, probably abandoning a lonely significant other somewhere, drinking together and yelling at a television in unison. Ah, America. If you can mingle amongst them and throw around a sporty phrase or two (try to stick to basketball) you'll fool everyone into thinking you not only know what you're talking about, but that you actually give a shit!

So this, my friends, is my fool-proof method on how to not just survive, but actually thrive in the glory and confusion that is March Madness. Now go forth, my sons/daughters, and sports talk like your life and future as a cool person depends on it.

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5 Tips For Your March Madness Bracket

Unpredictability is predictable here.

Hey college basketball fans!

The regular season is over, and conferences are about to begin (or have already begun in the case of a select few conferences) their postseason tournaments. You know what that means. Say it with me. It's almost March Madness!

March Madness brings such electricity and excitement for all college basketball fans, as 68 teams duke it out (see what I did there) in the single-elimination NCAA Tournament en route to crowning college basketball's champs. It also brings out the bracket predictions, with many people looking to win pools for money, or simply bragging rights among friends, co-workers and colleagues.

Picking a perfect bracket is just about impossible (with the NCAA going out to say the odds are as low as about 1-in-9.2 quintillion and as high as 1-in-128 billion). With odds like those, plus the unpredictability of the tournament through all the upsets and roll-of-the-dice close games, I can't guarantee you a perfect bracket. Just ask anyone who participated in bracket predictions last year, when no perfect brackets remained before the first round even ended.

But to give you some help, here are five things to look for when filling out your bracket.

1. Don't put all of the No. 1 seeds in the Final Four.
Okay, let's get this one out of the way first. For beginners, this is so tempting to do because it makes sense. "No. 1 means they're the best right? So, let's just play it safe and put all of them in the Final Four."

Well, one study at the University of Illinois shows just under 60-to-1 chances in that happening. So, if you put all of the four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four, good luck, and you better have good reasoning to do so.

On the other hand though, you might want to at least have your final four be all top four-seeded teams. While Syracuse, a No. 10 seed last year, pulled off quite the miracle run, it was only the 21st Final Four team not ranked No. 1-4 since 1985.

2. Look for upsets in early rounds.
A fifth seed vs. a 12th seed, a sixth seed vs. an 11th seed, a seventh seed vs. a 10th seed. All of these are games in the round of 64 that you should have an eye on.

Why? Because these are where upsets in the tournament commonly occur. In fact, every year since 2008 (with the exception of 2015) saw at least one No. 12 seed upset a No. 5.

Even the No. 3 vs. No. 14 match-ups have a bit of flavor on them, as 17 of the past 31 NCAA Tournaments have seen at least one No. 14 upset a No. 3, with this instance occurring the last four NCAA Tournaments in a row now.

But picking a No. 16 against a No. 1? Good luck. While it may happen one day, that has yet to happen.

3. Get more conservative with each passing round.
While you should be looking for more upsets early on, you should be more conservative with your picks with each new round. The teams seeded 1-4 in each of the four regions are placed there for a reason -- they truly are some of the best college basketball programs from this past season. So, while you masterfully and confidentially penciled in that No. 12 upset over a No. 5, don't go and have that No. 12 advance to the Elite Eight -- it's unlikely to happen.

In addition to the previous tips, only three teams ranked No. 14 or 15 have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 1985, and only one team ranked No. 4 or 5 -- the 1996-97 Arizona Wildcats -- has won the NCAA Tournament.

So, maybe two No. 1s and two No. 2s, or two No. 1s, a No. 2 and a No. 3 might be a good, safe Final Four combination.

4. Mind over matter (or in this case, your heart).
"My school made it to The Big Dance! We're only a No. 15, but I know we can go all the way!" Please, child.

As much as you have school spirit, and as much as it would mean the world for your team to pull off such a feat, be real here. It doesn't matter if you're a student at the school or just a fan, look at your school and then look at the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the same region of the bracket. Honestly answer this question, "Can my team hang with and beat those guys?"

If the answer is no, it's not likely going to happen. Play this smart, especially if your in a pool for money and prizes. And, hey, if you play it smart but your school does bust your bracket and advance farther than you would've thought realistically, at least you get some consolation from a busted bracket.

5. Don't overstress this too much.
Sure you may be playing for money, prizes and pride, but don't overanalyze anything too much. You can read into all the stats, all the schedules, and all the face-offs from earlier in the season or past NCAA Tournaments, but chillax here.

If you don't do as well as you thought, it happens. It's the NCAA Tournament, where anything can happen. And that's the beauty of March Madness.

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The First Annual NCAA Tournament Sneak-Peak

Finally, the NCAA does something right.

The NCAA Selection Committee announced today that they will reveal their top 16 NCAA Tournament seeds in mid-February as sort of a Selection Sunday tease. Obviously, these seeds aren't set in stone, and teams will jump up and down during the last few weeks of conference play and eventually conference tournaments.

I know, Roy! I love the move too.

As it stands now, college basketball undoubtedly owns the sports landscape during the month of March. This February 11th reveal is an NCAA attempt to grab the sports world right after the Super Bowl, rather than waiting for conference tournaments to roll around in early March.

Sure, maybe this is "unnecessary," but what's the downside? Worst case scenario is it's a failed attempt to create more buzz around the tournament and then life goes on as if they hadn't done anything at all. Success would mean much higher ratings during the stretch run of conference play and an eventual increased interest in the Tournament itself.

At the absolute very least, the early reveal serves as an argument baseline for sports nerds (me) who love to banter about potential tournament seedings. It's no different than the College Football Playoff releasing their top-four teams every week for the last month of the season.

There's no way this goes poorly for the sport, and I for one am excited to get a sneak-peek at where the committee's head is at immediately after football comes to a close.

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The Continuation of an Incredible Ride

None of this seemed possible a few months ago.

Any story can be considered incredible. A really good one will take over your emotions in a way that's never happened before. It will bring you on the cusp of tears while simultaneously creating a deep-seated anxiety deep in the pit of your stomach.

But it's not always the case that a story contains real human beings being thrown into the fire and expected to survive-and thrive-in front of millions of people.This particular story may not be that original. In fact, you've probably seen it before.

These preceding paragraphs not only describe my experience watching the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers miraculously upset the No. 2 Xavier Musketeers to advance to the Sweet 16, but really the past entire year following Wisconsin Basketball.

It all started around this exact time last year, as I had recently committed to attending UW-Madison, all while the Badgers were on their run to the Final Four and a chance of redemption against Kentucky. In a miraculous upset, Bo Ryan finally won the game he dreamed about his entire life, beating an undefeated Kentucky team that had a supposed date with perfection.

Unfortunately, last year wasn't the Badgers to own, and heading into this season, expectations were remarkably low. Especially after the sudden resignation of Ryan on Dec. 15 and a 7-5 record to go along with it, things looked incredibly bleak.

There were players who had no chemistry, top recruits being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, and an assistant coach in Greg Gard suddenly owning the keys to our once-shiny car that now seemed to be all covered in mud.

And all of a sudden, I didn't believe in this program. I was angered with the admissions office for refusing to let in Diamond Stone because of his reportedly low grades.

I had lost all confidence in Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, the preseason All-Americans who were trying to lead their own team, but didn't have the necessary support to succeed at first. And I doubted that Gard could truly take over this team and somehow sneak them into the tournament.

But everything came together in the end. Gard was the perfect man for the job, even if us fans wanted to believe that it always belonged to Tony Bennett or Archie Miller. He pushed all of the right buttons with the players and never seemed to doubt his ability to lead in a time of adversity.

He was his own man all while standing in Bo's shadow. He was going to run Ryan's swing offense but in his own distinct way. He believed in the team, and in return, the city of Madison believed in Gard.

The belief is what made the victory over Xavier Sunday night so sweet for us all. It was the idea that a group of young kids and a middle-aged man discovering his youth again could achieve all that was possible, regardless of all the doubts surrounding the team. It didn't matter.

They were going to win, all while taking you along for a ride filled with incredible defensive stands, clutch threes from guys who weren't considered shooters, and a buzzer beater by Bronson Koenig over the outstretched arms of Remy Abell that will most likely be his own one shining moment.

I don't know where this team will end up, which is exactly why I love everything about these guys. They're not stars. They're survivors. Human beings who faced the same challenges as many of us students, but still at the same time chasing a goal that seemed so far-fetched from the beginning: making it back to the championship game.

This team's theme all year has been about moving away from the shadows that have been haunting them. Whether it was Gard trying to create his own success without his mentor Ryan, Hayes trying to replace the great star forward Sam Dekker, or Ethan Happ transforming from a practice squad opponent of Frank Kaminsky into the Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year.

They did it all; regardless of how this season ends. They taught us all a lesson about resilience, as clich? as it sounds. They overcame challenge after challenge, and now Gard can rev up his engine, because he's driving straight into Philadelphia with a team that will not quit until their story is complete.

And so now I must reward this team that has given me so much joy over the past few weeks. I will make sure that I am there in person to watch them play Notre Dame Friday night in what will probably be an even matchup between two very similar programs.

So yes, you may be able to predict the ending to this tale. Or maybe we will see something so special this weekend that defies all logic. A team filled with gaping holes and inexperienced underclassman going back to the Final Four.

Survive and advance...

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The Best of What's Left: Mascot Edition

The ACC is dominating, and so are its mascots.

March Madness is in full swing and the Atlantic Coast Conference is dominating. Of the 16 teams left in the field, six of them hail from the ACC. Throughout the regular season many college basketball experts and pundits spoke of the prowess of other major conferences such as the Big 10 and Big 12, but down the stretch it's the ACC that is turning heads.

Although the ACC's elite play on the court is unquestioned, all of the remaining mascots need a revamp. The six remaining ACC teams in the tournament: North Carolina Tar Heels, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Cavaliers, Miami Hurricanes, Syracuse Orange, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish all need to rethink their mascots. Here are the mascots ranked from bad to worst.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Anyone who has seen the Irish play knows that they don't even have a real mascot. Unlike traditional mascots, Notre Dame's mascot is just a man dressed in a green and gold suit. There is no big-padded costume with animated features. Until the Irish get a real mascot they are going to stay at the bottom of this list.

5. Duke Blue Devils.
Sure, everybody hates Duke. From the assholes of the past, Christian Laettner, to the assholes of today, Grayson Allen, Duke has bad image on the court. But what is a Blue Devil? Almost every depiction of the Devil shows him as red. Give Duke credit for creativity, but they will stay toward the bottom of this list as long as their mascot exists solely in the fields of imagination.

4. UNC Tar Heels.
A trip to the UNC website shows that not even the university itself knows exactly why the schools Mascot is. There are two different myths as to how the school got the name. As for the physical mascot, the UNC ram does look pretty dope, which bumps the Tar Heels to the middle tier of this list.

3. Syracuse Orange.
To be honest, this is one of the coolest names in the country. Nobody else gets to be a fruit. No other school in the country gets to be color. But what hurts the Orange is the physical representation of their mascot. There are so many awesome possibilities, but the university settled on making their mascot an unimpressive, small, boring ball of orange. Syracuse had the potential to land the number one spot on this list but, often like 'Cuse's basketball team, it failed to live up to its potential.

2. UVA Cavaliers.
UVA's mascot may be the cavaliers, but their fans most often refer to them as the Wahoos. Turns out a Wahoo is someone who drink an excessive amount of alcohol. Well that is a pretty awesome mascot, thus earning them the two-spot on this list.

1. Miami Hurricanes.
Well the Hurricanes are pretty awesome. (I may be a little biased). Hurricanes are damaging storms that most Americans are in awe of. This is a perfect representation of the Miami sports program, as Miami sports have a notorious reputation, i.e. Catholics vs. Convicts, that most sports fans respect.

But what keeps Miami on this list of schools with mascots that are in need of change is the mere fact that South Florida is one of the hardest hit areas in America by hurricanes. Why would a program support a natural disaster that impacts them the most? Kind of ironic if you ask me.