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How to try and win the $1 billion bracket challenge for 2014 NCAA Tournament

How to try and win the $1 billion bracket challenge for 2014 NCAA Tournament
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The following is a list of tips fans can use if they choose to in order to try and win the $1 billion bracket challenge for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The $1 billion bracket challenge is sponsored by billionaire Warren Buffet, along with Quicken Loans, and is being run by Yahoo.

Before I get to the list, everyone who enters the $1 billion bracket challenge should understand that no one is going to win the $1 billion. Warren Buffet is not one of the richest men on the planet because he is stupid. Buffet, who built his wealth in large part by taking advantage of big tax breaks, knows that it is virtually a statistical impossibility for anyone to pick every NCAA Tournament game correctly.

The $1 billion bracket challenge for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, though, is also offering 20 prizes of $100,000 each in mortgage or home remodeling credits. So at least 20 people are going to win big from the $1 billion bracket challenge.

I won an online NCAA Tournament bracket challenge back in 2000 (my prize was a $500 online shopping spree at a big sporting goods company), and have won consolation prizes a couple of other times. Despite that, I do not claim to be an expert and readily admit I got lucky in 2000, but I also put myself in a position to be lucky.

Good luck with your brackets for the 2014 NCAA Tournament!

How to try and win the $1 billion bracket challenge for 2014 NCAA Tournament

  • Start by picking a winner and Final Four teams

Most people fill out NCAA Tournament brackets by starting with the first games and concluding with the Final Four and championship game. A better plan is to work backwards by deciding on a winner and Final Four teams first.

Then you can plug in your winner and Final Four teams and work backwards on your bracket sheets. The reality of a NCAA Tournament bracket challenge is that if you do not have the winner, and probably all of the Final Four teams, you will not win. This is especially true in the $1 billion bracket challenge because up to 15 million people are participating.

I cannot stress this point enough. You must have the winner and Final Four teams to win. Pay far more attention to your winner and Final Four teams than worrying about picking a first or second round upset in a bracket challenge of this size.

  • Avoid teams that go through scoring droughts

Avoid teams that have trouble scoring and are subject to scoring droughts. One scoring drought in a one-and-done basketball tournament will likely spell doom for most teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Some teams in college basketball just have real trouble scoring at times. Picking a team that often suffers scoring droughts to go far is a recipe for disaster in the NCAA Tournament.

  • Go with the best coaches with proven NCAA Tournament success

Some coaches historically do much better in the NCAA Tournament than other coaches do. Put the odds in your favor by going with the best tournament coaches if you are undecided about a match-up.

  • Go with the best players

Here are some names for you, Mateen Cleaves, Carmelo Anthony, and Kemba Walker. All three players carried their teams to NCAA Tournament championships. Who will carry a team to the championship in 2014?

If you can identify such a player ahead of time, you have a chance to win the $1 billion bracket challenge for the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

  • Understand that luck plays a huge role

Playing fantasy sports since 1997 has taught me that luck plays a huge role in winning. In addition to winning a NCAA Tournament bracket challenge in 2000, I've also won eight fantasy football championships, including four in a big money league.

Luck played a big role in each championship. I'd say in fantasy sports you can only control about 50% of things, and lucks decides the other 50%.

In the NCAA Tournament, you really need luck to be on your side to win a bracket challenge too. You might have the best team picked out for this year's tournament, and then they play another team that shoots lights out from three-point land and your bracket challenge is over.

That is going to happen to many people, but not to the winners of the $1 billion bracket challenge for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Do the best with what you can control and then hope for luck for the rest.

  • Ignore the prognosticators and make your own picks

If any of the so-called experts in college basketball knew what they were talking about they would win the $1 billion bracket challenge for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. I guarantee you none of them will win.

I will give you an example of how bad most of the prognosticators are. Last year, Mike Francesa, who used to be a studio analyst for CBS coverage of the NCAA Tournament, went on and on about how Indiana and its coach would be prepared for the 2-3 match-up zone Syracuse plays in the NCAA Tournament.

Francesa went on incessantly telling his WFAN radio listeners that with plenty of time to prepare, Indiana would be ready for Syracuse and its zone. If you watched the Indiana vs Syracuse game in last year's NCAA Tournament you saw right from the start that Indiana, despite having two top five first round NBA draft picks in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller on the team, had no answer for the zone.

Syracuse never had an anxious moment in the game, as the Orange beat Indiana, 61-50. Forget the experts and make your own picks, and try not to get frustrated when some grandmother from Iowa wins because she picked the teams with the nicknames she liked best.