How to fill out an NCAA tourney bracket without the Arizona Wildcats

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It feels really weird that the Arizona Wildcats aren't part of postseason play in the NCAA Tournament and are instead relegated to the NIT.

Honestly, I don't pay attention to the NIT. This year, of course we all will, but how to judge, enjoy and feel good about it is probably confusing. In the end, it's probably a consolation prize for most Wildcat fans. And in the end, the NCAA Tournament will still be where our eyes and ears are when we're thinking March Madness.

But how do you fill out a bracket?

1) Cut the fat

Between every No. 1 or No. 2 seed, I bet you don't like about half of the squads on that list very much. Now, that dislike has to come for basketball reasons and not personal, so being honest in why you hate a certain team (ex. Duke fan who hates UNC because they're good) goes a long way.

But in the end, we're rarely left with all four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. If you're a safe better, choose one or two top seeds that you think are sure-fire locks to make the Final Four. If you want to go out on more limbs, stick with No. 3 or No. 4 seeds you think are undervalued.

Cutting the fat -- the delicious tasting, but not good for you picks -- will help narrow down what upsets to pick later on.

2) Careful with the upsets

Having one major upset in every Regional to start the second round of 64 teams is probably a good idea. Generally, we find those upsets to be in the 5-12 seed match-ups and the 6-11 seed match-ups, but go with your gut.

Of course, don't go overboard. Picking mid-majors is only a good idea if you have some degree of knowledge about them.

For example, Arizona fans might know a little something about Iona if they've followed former Wildcat Momo Jones' career this year. And considering they're playing a BYU team that also doesn't play defense, maybe go with the former Wildcat, who starts alongside one of the most underrated point guards in the country in Scott Machado.

Also, don't put me on blast if Iona gets smoked.

3) Determine who's hot

If you remember correctly, Arizona wasn't supposed to be all that good last year, even as a 5 seed. Charles Barkley was really the only believer. But you also must know that they peaked during the Pac-12 tournament, and even in losing to the Washington Huskies in the championship game, showed they weren't close to the same team they were in the regular season.

The same is true for the UConn Huskies, who won the NCAA Tournament.

Remember, that team wasn't ranked in the preseason and wasn't even a lock for the NCAA Tourney going into the Big East Tournament. They were 9-9 in the Big East and 21-9 at one point, then won their last 10 games through the conference tournament and the NCAA to take the championship.

Point is this: Go with the teams that are peaking late.

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