For die hard sports fans, after the Super Bowl is over there is not a lot to do. Baseball has not started yet, both hockey and basketball are still in their regular seasons. However, March Madness is quickly approaching. If you are not a huge college basketball fan, but you still love to do a bracket, here are a few things that should help you against your friends or that work pool.

Non-Conference Games

For teams like Duke or North Carolina, it does not really matter who they play in the beginning of the season. But, for a majority of NCAA Basketball teams it does matter. When you are making your bracket, make it a point to look back and see some of the competition that the team played early. The Selection Committee has made out of conference opponents more of a point of emphasis.

What makes March Madness so much fun is all of the upsets. If you are looking for a team that could make a run, make sure you look and see some of their out of conference opponents. If you believe this team could be a sleeper, and they have a good out of conference schedule, then you will have a leg up against others. Many teams play in tons of early holiday tournaments and it’s a must to do research on these.

State Of The Current Team

This is something that is important no matter what sport we are talking about. For college basketball, it becomes even more relevant because of the amount of freshman that usually contribute to these teams. Obviously if a team is undefeated, you know that they have played well all season. But, have they been tested at all? What I like to do is look for teams who started the season out hot, then struggled, but then seemed to fix the problem and are now playing great. This seems to be the best formula for finding a team that is poised to make a run.

Strength of Schedule and RPI

This section goes hand in hand with the non-conference opponents of March Madness. For the Selection Committee, SOS and RPI are terms that you hear all the time. The reason for this is simple, the committee wants to put the best 68 teams in the tournament every single year.

Some of these statistics are important when looking at two teams that are close. But instead of getting into the nitty gritty with you, just know that SOS and RPI are good statistics to know about a team you are looking at. Obviously, the better the SOS and RPI, then the better the team has played. In theory, the SOS should set a team up for a longer run.

Superstar Factor

Anyone who has ever watched basketball, and college basketball knows that one player can actually carry a team. It is really the only sport where one guy could potentially win a game for the entire team. College basketball is also the only collegiate sport where the athletes only need to stay for one year. With this being the case, there are a ton of superstar-draft-ready players that can and will carry a team to the promise land in March.

My best advice to you would be to look and some of the guys who are projected to go in the top-10 for the NBA draft. Then look at where some of those guys are playing in college. After that, you can use the knowledge of SOS and RPI to help you find a team that is going to make a run. I just wouldn’t bank on Oklahoma to go that far!