One day and counting ...
The NCAA Tournament kicks off in earnest Thursday and you know what that means: Brackets are due.
If you are looking for some way to choose besides mascots, team colors and logos, here are a few nuggets to digest, courtesy of our esteemed research department:
• Never pick all four No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four. It hasn't happened, so don't think you're going to be the first one to think it will occur.
• The eventual national champ has never faced the highest possible seed in each round, including the title game.
• Because they have won the title in 13 of the last 15 seasons, go with a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The only exceptions were Arizona (No. 4) in 1997 and Syracuse (No. 3) in 2003.
• All of the Nos. 1-4 seeds have survived the first round only three times since the field was expanded to 64 in 1985.
• A No. 12 has beaten a No. 5 26 times since the field expanded and no No. 5 has won the national title. A 12 has won at least one game in 15 of the last 16 tournaments.
• A No. 7 has never reached the national title game, but a No. 11 (LSU) made it to the Final Four in 1986.
• Run screaming from the No. 14 seeds. They've gone winless in five straight tournaments.
• Look cautiously optimistic at No. 13 seeds, as they've won at least one game in five of the last seven tournaments.
• Go with the ACC (not just because we picked an all-ACC final in Wake Forest-North Carolina). The conference has had at least two teams in the Sweet 16 every year since 1980.
And now for some team- and league-specific nuggets:
• Don't get too excited about Utah and New Mexico. The MWC is 3-12 over the last four seasons.
• No team has won the title after losing the first game in its conference tournament. We take exception to this (having chosen Wake Forest) because Chris Paul, the Demon Deacons' best player, didn't play against NC State in the ACC quarterfinals.
• Only one C-USA team has ever reached the Final Four (hear that Louisville) and that was Marquette in 2003.
• As dominant as Kentucky is in the regular season, Florida is the last SEC team to reach the Final Four (2000).
• The Big 12 is the hot league for the Final Four, placing a team in the event the last three years (think Oklahoma State and Kansas here).
• If you like Syracuse or Connecticut (or even BC) to win the title, it would be historic. The last conference to produce three straight national champs was the ACC in 1991-93 (Duke twice and North Carolina).
• Keep an eye on Ohio against Florida. The MAC has a win in three of the last four years.
• We love Vermont but the Catamounts would have to alter history America East is 1-15 in the last 16 tournaments.
• Run away from the Southland Conference (SE Louisiana playing Oklahoma State) because that league has lost 20 of 21 NCAA games.
• Montana doesn't have history on its side against Washington, considering a 16 has never beaten a 1 and the Big Sky has lost 23 of its last 25 games. The last win? Weber State's stunner over North Carolina in 1999.
• The Patriot League is the only league never to win a tournament game (0-13), which means Bucknell has no shot against Kansas.
• The Big South and the Northeast have won only opening-round games, which for some odd reason really does count as an NCAA Tournament win.
• Make sure you select at least one Cinderella to reach the Elite Eight and the definition is sixth or worse. This has happened in 17 of the past 20 years.
OK, now go fill out those brackets. You'll probably do just as well selecting the team with the cutest mascot, the best colors and the team name that you love to hear.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.