If, in your mind, "Butler" is just a thing fancy British people have, and "Belmont" calls to mind horses before basketballs, you're probably experiencing some familiar anxiety all of a sudden.
Over the next few weeks, just like every year, you'll have to suffer through these senseless March Madness conversations. You'll have to politely decline invitations for the office pools and the family pools and the deep suburban cul-de-sac pools.
But this year, maybe you're fed up with being the party pooper. Maybe you actually sincerely want to participate but just can't summon the energy to face the bracket with all its complicated words and numbers. Advancing teams with (at best) tangential knowledge of the sport can make the whole thing feel like a ridiculous enterprise.
So what's a non-sporting, fun-loving fellow or lady to do?
Here are 10 possible options for creating your NCAA bracket if you don't care about basketball or really have no idea what the hell is going on.
1) Numerical: If you lack time and creativity, merely pick the higher ranked school in every contest. Once you've reached the Final Four, tie breaker should be reverse alphabetical order (or any of the methods below.)
2) Alphabetical (or Reverse Alphabetical). Akron's looking pretty good.
3) Jesuitical: Always go with the team with the higher seed unless a Jesuit school is playing, in which case you always advance the Jesuit school.
4) Geographical: In every contest, advance the team closest to your home. True adherents to this method should not shy away from Google Maps to calculate mileage. (Akron, once again, is probably looking pretty good.)
5) Individually Randomized: Literally do a coin-toss for every single game. Heads for school with highest seed.
6) By Length: Pick the school with the shortest name (fewest number of letters) in every contest.
7) By Pattern: Establish a strict pattern for upsets. (I.e. Upset every other game, Upset every third game, upset every fourth game, etc.) DO NOT STRAY FROM THE PATTERN.
8) Calculated/Random: Pick seeded teams #1-4 in the first two rounds. In match ups featuring #5-16 seeds, establish victor via coin toss.
9) Truly Elaborate & Time-Consuming Research Method: Pick an arbitrary statistical category related or unrelated to basketball and advance the team based on that category. My personal favorite is average weight. In other words, always advance the fattest team. (This can of course be done for more relevant categories, like assists or 3-point shooting percentage.)
10) U.S. News and World Report: Pull up the old annual college rankings and always advance the team with the lower ranking.
All of these methods can of course be modified and enhanced based on your preference. Sometimes, it's fun to change it up round by round. But remember that having a strategy in place can sometimes add some spice to a thing that you might consider stupid or boring otherwise.
Here's a printable bracket.
Happy picking! Comment below if you have unique or weirdly successful methods for filling out your bracket.