With the exception of the Super Bowl, there may not be a bigger sporting event in America than the NCAA basketball tournament (aka March Madness). 72 teams playing 67 games over 7 rounds spanning nearly a month certainly brews the potential for madness. It has been a tough year for college basketball in the Pacific Northwest. Only Oregon and Gonzaga are projected as tournament teams by ESPN, but more important than the teams are, of course, the brackets!

Over 50 million Americans are expected to fill out a bracket and participate in a pool this year, so here are a few helpful (and some not so helpful) strategies to get you started on your bracket this year:

1. History Repeats Itself

Four programs, UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Indiana (5), and North Carolina (5) have combined to win 29 national championships. This year, North Carolina, a projected #2 seed, is your best bet when picking from college basketball’s royalty.

2. The Coin Flip

Assuming you flipped a coin to pick each tournament game, you would have a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of picking a perfect bracket. For those of us who aren’t math expects that’s a quintillion, which makes those Powerball odds look pretty good.

3. Chalk

There’s nothing wrong with taking the favorites, they are favored for a reason. But, a word of warning, only once in tournament history have all four #1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. That was in 2008 when Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Memphis all advanced.

4. Cinderella

It’s called March Madness for a reason, if there is one thing that can be said for sure about the NCAA tournament it is that somewhere along the way a Cinderella team will appear.

While a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed, seven #15 seeds have beaten #2 seeds, twenty #14 seeds have beaten #3 seeds, and twenty-five #13 seeds have beaten #4 seeds. Most surprisingly perhaps is the fact that #12 seeds win almost half their matchups with #5 seeds (46%)! The lowest seed to ever win the National Championship was Villanova, who did it as a #8 seed in 1985.

5. Mascot Face-Off

There are of course alternative strategies to picking the winners. Have you ever considered who would win a fight between a Blue Devil and a Spartan? Or a Friar and a Duck? Here’s to hoping the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs make a tournament appearance this year.

6. Two Birds With One Stone

Did you know the first Thursday/Friday of March Madness are the number one days for American men to schedule elective surgeries? Some surgeons go as far as offering specials on vasectomies to men hoping to be able to spend the weekend on the couch watching hoops.

Regardless of the bracket strategy you employ or the team you root for, March Madness is a great time of year for sports fans. Will you be among the estimated 6% of American workers to call in sick to enjoy the first round of games? Here at Juniper we will be in the office working hard to produce top private money loans, but the conference room TV will certainly be tuned to what will be undoubtedly entertaining basketball.