Tomorrow, Americans will collectively second guess their brackets approximately 3,879,592,082 times before March Madness officially tips off and makes at least half of those people almost immediately regret the decisions they made.
Thankfully, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, which means those people will at least have an excuse to ease the pain of being mathematically eliminated from their office pool by drinking heavily.
I'm not sure if I'll count myself among those ranks tomorrow night, but judging by how little I know about college basketball, I wouldn't be shocked if I'm using my bracket to justify chugging Jameson from the bottle for longer than any person should.
I barely watched any college basketball this year because my alma mater's athletic program is one of the saddest in the country, and even though I might be entirely clueless about the teams in this year's tournament, I'd still like to gamble on them.
If you're in the same boat, here are a few tips to follow if you want to avoid being laughed at by your friends and co-workers. You're probably not going to win if you follow this advice, but at least it'll look like you tried.
Pick a couple of 12 seeds in the first round.
Since 2008, 12 seeds have won more than half of their first round matchups, so if you want people to think you know about college basketball, I strongly suggest picking at least two first round upsets.
I'd personally go with Yale and Little Rock for no real reason in particular, but the truth is it doesn't really matter which teams you go with because they'll probably end up losing to whoever they end up playing in the second round.
Find one school you've never heard of and predict they'll go farther than they should.
The Cinderella story is a staple of March Madness, and even though there's no guarantee that a ragtag bunch of underdogs will manage to overcome improbable odds, you'll look like a genius if you manage to hitch your wagon to the right horse.
You can skip this step if you're scared that your boldness will be confused with ignorance by friends and co-workers, but if you decide to take the plunge, there are a couple guidelines you'll want to follow.
You're going to want to limit your selection to a team seeded between 8 and 14 (depending on how conservative you're feeling), and I've found it's best to back a school with a geographical location you aren't entirely sure of.
If you keep that in mind, you could be the genius responsible for predicting the next George Mason.
On a related note: Have Wichita State going way too far into the tournament.
I've read a number of articles in the past week by analysts who are convinced that Wichita State is going to make it deep into the tournament this year, including a few that suggested the team might defy the odds and make their way into the Elite Eight.
Historically speaking, these self-proclaimed experts tend to make bold predictions at the start of the tournament that they promptly forget ever making when they've failed to hold true, so I'm hesitant to hop on the bandwagon.
With that said, Wichita State is one of those random schools that always seems to go farther than they should in the tournament -- colleges with "State" in their name that don't have an actual state in their name always seem to do better than they should.
If your prediction doesn't come true, you can just blame the experts, but if you really need to explain yourself, just say you went with the Shockers because their name never stops being funny.
Throw a three seed into your Final Four.
My annual bracket selection process normally goes like this: After following all of the rules I've listed above, I fill out my bracket and realize my Elite Eight consists entirely of one and two seeds.
As tempting as it can be to have blind faith in the selection committee, it's important to remember that upsets are virtually guaranteed in the tournament: 2008 was the first (and last) year when every team in the Final Four was ranked number one in their respective region.
You can use that as proof that a Final Four filled with one seeds isn't out of the realm of possibility, but if you don't want to be that person, I suggest picking whatever three seed you dislike the least and giving them a path to the semifinals.
If you're really desperate, just copy Barack Obama's bracket.
Considering the current political climate in the country, I'm almost positive the President has a team of advisers he consults with each year before giving his detractors even more meaningless issues they can use to criticize his competency.
Even though you might not end up winning, you can rest easy knowing your bracket will likely be based on the insights of people who presumably know more about college basketball than you do.
Remember: Your tax dollars basically paid for it in the first place.