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How to Win Your March Madness Office Pool

Here at TheNest.com offices, March Madness has officially taken over as the number-one water-cooler chat topic. If you’re like us -- not exactly basketball experts, but still eager to dominate your office’s NCAA bracket pool and maybe gloat to your boss when it’s all over, read on. We tapped a secret source (Full disclosure: it’s a Nestie boyfriend who happens to be a sports stats fanatic) and got 5 expert tips on how to win.

Good luck -- but don’t blame us if you’re out the 10-buck buy-in!

1. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about college basketball. The odds of picking a perfect bracket are actually 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s one in 9 quintillion; in other words, it’s less likely than winning the lottery twice. So even if you had caught every college game this season, and taken perfect notes, there will still be the odd last-second buzzer beater or freak injury no one could have predicted, which throws the final score. Bottom line: Have fun with it.

2. Go crazy, but not too crazy. Everyone likes a Cinderella story, so it’s cool to choose the occasional underdog (say, Siena beating Purdue or Cornell taking down Temple). Just know that the theory only goes so far. Put it this way: If the Ivy League runs into Kentucky, things are gonna get ugly. And no fairy godmother will appear to bail them out.

3. Write your bracket in pen. The worst thing you can do while choosing your teams is to waffle. If your gut says Murray State will beat Vanderbilt -- stand by it! Picking in pen will prevent you from hedging your bets and becoming a stress case. Plus, if you change picks, no one will believe it when you say “I swear I originally chose Murray State!” Along these lines, once you choose a method, stick to it. Whether it’s picking names you like, the “smarter” school, the higher seed, or just a gut feeling, don’t deviate from the plan.

4. Don’t pick a school because you like someone who went there. So your brother went to Marquette or your best friend’s wife went to Duke? It doesn’t matter unless one of them played on the basketball team and funneled you lots of insider information. Stay unemotional.

5. Pick at least one upset in a 5-12 matchup. Since 1989, there have only been two seasons when a 12-seed didn’t beat a 5-seed (seeds are basically the team's overall season ranking). This year, the 5-12 pairings are Michigan State vs. New Mexico State, Butler vs. UTEP, Temple vs. Cornell, and Texas A&M vs. Utah State. While Michigan State probably isn’t going to lose to New Mexico State, the other three are ripe for the upset, so take a chance.

Have your own tips? Share them below.

-- Laura Schocker

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