Let the contest madness begin!

By: Jimmy Yang | Monday, March 15, 2010

Is there a Notre Dame, Villanova matchup looming in the South Region?

The start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is upon us, and we are all wondering what excitement is in store this year.  The tournament always brings back fond memories and reminds me why we love to watch how it unfolds.  From the players playing their hearts out, to the Cinderella teams that emerge out of nowhere - as well as the furious finishes - this is world-class sports at its best.

My fondest memories of the NCAA men's basketball tournament include Bryce Drew of Valparaiso nailing a buzzer beating three-pointer in '98 to upset Ole Miss. How about Tyus Edney of UCLA going coast to coast to beat Missouri in '95?

More recently in '08, Stephen Curry spearheaded 10th-seeded Davidson's improbable run to the Elite Eight, losing by only two points to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks.

This time of year also means free contests at Don Best Sports, and we’ve got two free and unique contests for you to join.  Our March Mania Round By Round Contest has simple rules. For each of the tounament's six rounds, simply pick the teams you think are going to win each individual matchup.

The three top players with the most points in the overall contest standings will win $300, $200, and $100 respectively along with a Don Best Real-Time Odds three-month Subscription valued at $1,500.  Players finishing in fourth though sixth place will also receive Don Best Subscriptions.  Players picking the most winners in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 will win $100 each.  Whoever picks the most winners in the rounds four through six combined will win $200.

We also have the March Mania Survivor Contest where you pick a single team to win its game in each round.  As with most survivor-type contests, the catch is that if you advance to the next round, you are not allowed to pick any of your previously chosen teams.  If you are the last player standing, you will win $500 cash plus a Don Best Real-Time Odds three-month Subscription valued at $1,500!

If you are new to contests, or just need a little refresher, some tips to help you make your picks appear below.

Round by Round Contest Strategy

The general strategy is to pick the favored teams in the early rounds.  In the later rounds, start to pick some lower-seeded teams that are playing hot, matched up against a higher-seeded team that had a tough game in the previous round and is not playing so well.  If you are trying to figure out the teams most likely to pull off a first-round upset, a good bet would be to pick either a ninth- or 12th-seeded team. Why? Well it always seems that every year one or two 12th-seeded teams knock off a No. 5 seed in the first round.  The ninth-seeded teams have a winning percentage of 54% playing eighth-seeded teams in the first round.

Survivor Contest Strategy

A good strategy is to pick a third- or fourth-seeded team in the opening rounds and then a second-seeded team in the rounds after, saving your top seeds for the Final Four and National Championship Game rounds.  When in doubt, teams that have a solid upperclass backcourt with tournament experience and play excellent defense are always a good pick. Teams like Kansas and Duke fall into this category.

If you are still unsure about your selections, or still on the fence about a team, you can view the consensus picks to see who everyone else is picking. Good luck in your contests and here's looking forward to this year's memorable tournament moments!

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