BRACKET STRATEGY #1: Straight from the Gut

Risk: Medium

Results: 2005 – 94th percentile in ESPN Tourney Challenge; 2006 – 63rd percentile; 2007 – 88th percentile; 2008 – 49th percentile; 2009 – 55th percentile. 2010 – 48th percentile; 2011 – 61st percentile. OVERALL AVERAGE – 65.4 percentile

Strategy: In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller “Blink,” he advises “…on straight-forward choices, deliberate analysis is best. When questions of analysis and personal choice start to get complicated—when we have to juggle many different variables—then our unconscious thought processes may be superior.” This is the strategy in which I take Gladwell’s advice. As soon as the bracket is set, I take all of five minutes to fill it out without checking any of my numbers or second-guessing myself. Pure from-the-gut instinct. ‘Nuf said.

Outlook: I’ve done just okay with this “strategy” over the last seven years, but my gut has been less trustworthy the last four years. I had a brief moment of glory in 2009, when this Guts strategy went 16 for 16 on the opening night…then things started to crumble. Last year’s results might look bad, but my gut picks were the third best out of 12 models. It goes to show how much 2011 defied stats-based strategies.

This year, I'm going with--surprise, surprise--Kentucky. I've got a few upsets scattered through the bracket, including VCU, Long Beach State, North Carolina State, and South Florida. But the Final Four is reasonably tame: two one seeds (Kentucky and Syracuse) and two two seeds (Missouri and Kansas).