I am not a spiritual person, except when it comes to March Madness. After many years of filling out brackets, I've reached the conclusion that the only way to succeed is to remove yourself from all rationality -- well, except for the idea that a Mo. 16 seed might ever beat a No. 1 seed -- and just select the first team that pops into your head.
There are many methods but only one true path. For example...
Pick the higher seeds in each case. This is the most rational thing to do, and yet it ensures that you will not win the pool. It guarantees that you will finish just a whisper above mediocrity. In this way the strategy is similar to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pick the blue state teams over the red state teams. This would mean, for example, that you would pick Oregon over Oklahoma State despite the fact that the latter is favored. I did it anyway. Take that, tea party extremists! This also makes Wisconsin an easy choice over Mississippi as both the seeding and the politics line up. But you can only take this so far. For example, what do you do if Bucknell (Pennsylvania) meets Marquette (Wisconsin) in the second round?
That gets us to the third strategy -- homer selections. This would mean that you would pick Marquette and Bucky and all the other Big Ten teams. But again, this will only get you so far. What happens if Michigan faces Minnesota in the Elite Eight? And do you seriously think we'll have a Big Ten-only Final Four?
Or, for two more strategies, pick the teams with the best mascots and names. I always picked Gonzaga, even before they were a really good team, just because the name of the school was named Gonzaga. Under this rule, I would always pick Bucky, even if I weren't an alum because, face it, Bucky Badger is the coolest mascot ever. But as much as I love the Badgers, I can't see them going all the way this year. And besides, I have them meeting Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Despite the homer rule, I'm going with Gonzaga.
Finally, pick the teams from cities that need a pick-me-up. Call this the Underdog City Rule. For example, when they were in the tournament, I always picked Wayne State. That school is in Detroit. Enough said.
So, my upsets in the opening round are Oregon over Oklahoma State (Blue State Rule), the Cincinnati Bearcats over the Creighton Blue Jays (Better Mascot Rule), Villanova over North Carolina (I Like the Name Rule, with Villanova sounds like a smooth and sweet pudding), Akron over VCU (Underdog City Rule), Minnesota over UCLA (Homer Rule), Oklahoma over San Diego State (Underdog City Rule trumps Blue State Rule), Bucknell over Butler (I Like the Name Rule) and Colorado over Illinois (I just don't like Illinois -- that orange, geez).
So, there it is. The best advice I can offer. You're welcome, and go Bucky!