Throwing darts. Overdosing on advanced statistics. Picking a team based on their mascot. There's no limit to the number of ways you can fill out your NCAA tournament bracket.
And the good news is they're all wrong. Bracket-filling is very democratic in the way it renders punishment upon all of us.
Whatever your system, nine years out of ten, you will be setting your bracket on fire (if it's paper) or yelling at your computer screen (if it's online) long before the Final Four is ever played.
Nonetheless, when it came time to roll out our own HLN Bracket Challenge we all managed to convince ourselves this would be that one year in ten. So here's a look at how our optimistic group of HLN personalities arrived at their picks and who they're taking this year to go all the way to New Orleans for the Final Four.
Carlos Diaz (click to view Carlos' bracket)
Strategy? Not all of the top seeds are going to make it through, so I just go by "feel" when it comes to picking upsets. The most hilarious thing about watching the "experts" pick the upsets is that they are right as often as your office buddy who knows NOTHING about basketball.
Final Four? Baylor, Missouri, Ohio State, North Carolina. I picked the Baylor Bears to win it all because I dig their new neon green jerseys.
Sleepers? Harvard, baby! Linsanity may be dying down in the NBA, but Jeremy Lin's alma mater will light up that magic once again!
Who's your team? I have my Indiana Hoosiers making it to the Elite 8. But that's where Baylor ends the run of my alma mater. Still, IU has had an amazing season! We're back, baby!!
Strategy? I am a hunch guy. I love to listen to all the analysis and pick and choose what teams I like. I also love that, after four hours in front of the tube watching college hoops, I can say to my wife, "This is research for work honey!"
Final Four? Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt. Kentucky wins it all!
Sleepers? Long Beach State, Cal, Belmont
Who's your team? UCLA. Maybe next year.
Strategy? I looked heavily at each team's ranking/seed. Thank gawd they have that right beside the name of the school on the bracket. Helps me a lot. But then I'd also let my heart strings pull when appropriate, depending on which school I felt favorable toward.
Final Four? Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas. Ohio State to win. For the national title game teams, it came down to logic and love: My logic went with Kentucky based on their seed, plus I have a lot of cousins who live in eastern Kentucky and would have my head if I didn't have Kentucky right up there. For their opponent I went with Ohio State, not only because they're a two-seed, but also because of home state allegiance.
Sleepers? I don’t think I had any. Did I? Heck if I know. Ha!
Strategy/Final Four? Syracuse, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas. I'm a Syracuse guy -- I'd feel like a jerk if I didn't pick them. Kentucky is just dominant, their center is going to be the #1 pick in the NBA draft (plus who wants to pick Duke? Kidding!) Missouri is just a guess. Kansas' regional final is in St. Louis, not far from Kansas -- home team advantage. Kentucky is my champ by a hair. It's a real toss-up this year.
Sleepers? Long Beach State (sounds like a fun place to hang out), Vanderbilt (they won the their conference tourney), Temple (I will regret this but I'm from Philly -- I HAVE to pick them)
Who's your team? GO ORANGE!!
Strategy? I've found "weather" I spend five hours or five minutes on my bracket, the result is usually the same: sub-par. So instead of staring at my choices with a blank expression that would put the cast of 'Jersey Shore' in a calculus class to shame, I do the latter. Look at the rankings, and done.
Final Four? Missouri, Kentucky, UNC and Syracuse. Syracuse winning. My second meteorologist job was in Syracuse, so I fell in love with the area and the team. I have them winning every year. I'm a fan of UNC as well, so I usually try to exit Duke in a hurry. This year was no different.
Sleepers? Detroit over Kansas! (Ed. note: HLN bears no responsibility for anyone foolish enough to take Bob up on this prediction)
Strategy? My husband picked them. I don’t know how to look at them. I think he picked Kentucky. (He did.)
Final Four? Kentucky, Michigan State, Florida State, Kansas. Kentucky for the win.