if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
100% hot nerd action
This hurt. [Fuller]
Longtime readers will know the MGoBlog policy on sacking: sacks and sack yardage should be counted as passing, because they are pass plays, not rushing, as the NCAA and thus everybody else is wont to do. Counting sacks as passing leads to a better understanding of success and where yards come from, and prevents problems like the computer in the NCAA videogames passing every play because the sacks that generates keep making the rushing numbers look progressively more awful.
For the Hail to the Victors preview books (kickstarter coming soon) each year we put these "At-a-Glance" boxes into the opponent previews, complete with offensive and defensive stats that we've adjusted for this. Having done the calculations for that, I thought I'd share them with you.
First, the difference it makes to passing stats:
|Team||Pass Att||Pass Yds||YPA||Rk||Sacks||Sack Yds||YPA||Rk|
By counting sacks as passing Michigan drops from 8.15 yards per attempt (good for the best passing team in the conference last year) to a more realistic 6.85 YPA, dropping them to fourth. Minnesota's passing game dropped from middling to awful, Iowa's climbed from the bottom to the middle.
And the difference to running stats:
|Team||Rushes||Rush Yds||YPC||Rk||Sacks||Sack Yds||YPA||Rk|
Michigan's awful running game is still awful, but it no longer looks like the Scheelhaase option-running game was a disaster. Ohio State's 7.27 YPC isn't just first among the conference; OSU and Wisconsin were the #1 and #2 rushing offenses in the country. Michigan: 115th out of 125 teams.
This isn't perfect since quarterback scrambles still can't be pulled out of rushing stats, but that's not so big of a deal considering a running QB should be contributing to your rushing success.
[Jump for Devin Garder's passing season and profiles of next year's opponents]
That is 2,728 pounds—1.24 metric tons—in the box for those weighing at home.
On 1st and 10. MANBRAAAHHHLLL!!!
Before the Minnesota game I tweeted that I'd be perfectly content if Borges debuted a completely new package and used it to beat up on the Gophers at home a la 2011. So here I am, being content.
The unbalanced stuff I'm sure Brian will picture page and Space Coyote and Burgeoning Wolverine Star will peel it apart as well; since they know more about that stuff I'll leave it to them. What I would like to do is look at the heavy formations in the macro: how Big did Michigan actually go, how effective it was on a yards-per-play basis, and whether it matches the personnel.
By "big" I mean fewer receivers in the formation. The lower that number, the more backs and TEs, and thus the "heavier" the formation. How big?
Average Receivers in Formation:
|2013 games 1-4||2.30||2.29|
|2013 Minnesota||1.83 (!)||1.79 (!)|
That is big—like we should all have pronounced brow ridges and live in caves and the equipment sponsor is Mousterian big. I counted Funchess as a WR when he was in a 2-point stance; if you file him as a half tight end (you shouldn't) it gets even heavier. A lot of the three-wide was on the time-sensitive last drive of the 1st half—that you should count.
Did it work? Did it work better than the stuff Michigan has been doing until now? Did they always run to the side they unbalanced? We see after the jump.
Taylor on an island [Upchurch]
Brian forwarded me a mailbag question regarding where Michigan's defense is getting attacked through the air, i.e. are there certain coverage areas that have been particularly weak? It took me most of a day to chart every passing play; the resulting post is rather straightforward. Consider this your bye week from my logorrhea.
Data are here.
What I tracked:
1) Where the ball starts (hash or center). If the tackles lined up inside the hash it was "center"
2) Which zone it was thrown to, on a telephone keypad grid. 1, 4, and 7 are around the numbers to the sideline; 2, 5, and 8 are the area around the opposite hash to the wide side only, and 3, 6, and 9 are down the middle.
If a ball was on the line I always erred to the zone closest to the quarterback. This makes sense if you imagine a player covering Zone 6 will be responsible for carrying a player through that zone, and would be in better position to defend that pass than a guy over him.
3) Which side (strong or weak) of the defense. I noted "Strong" as wherever the SAM lined up in 4-3 sets and where Countess lined up in nickel sets. Once or twice this conflicted with the offense but it's better this way for identifying which players are being targeted.
Weakside/boundary players, usually: R.Taylor, Wilson, Ross/Bolden, Beyer (as WDE) on nickel, Clark on 4-3.
Strongside/field players, usually: Countess, C.Gordon, Beyer (as SAM) on 4-3, Clark on nickel, T.Gordon, Morgan/Bolden, Stribling/Hollowell/Lewis/Avery.
Sacks, throwaways, scrambles, and other such events that took the emphasis on coverage were excised. I couldn't reward those things which occurred because coverage was good enough to make them happen so keep that in mind as you read.
hi bennie! /Upchurch
It's an annual rite of fan dorkiness each year to try to be the first to guess which numbers the incoming freshmen will be given by obsessively google stalking them. Sometimes I have some inside knowledge from a recruit who was promised his digit, or tweeted his preferences or something. Here's how I did last year:
|Name||Pos.||# in HS||2012 Guess||Actual|
|Allen Gant||S||7 and 14||14||12|
|Chris Wormley||DE||47||84 or 68||43|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB/KR||21||21 if available, or 31||26|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5 and 15||85||19|
|Drake Johnson||RB||2 and 18||32 or 6 or 23||29|
|Sione Houma||FB||35||41 or 32||39|
|Terry Richardson||CB||3 and 6 and 9||9||13|
|Tom Strobel||DE||36||63 or 93 or 86||50|
|Willie Henry||DT||74||74 or 68||69|
Four out of 22 ain't…well yes it is. It was bad. This article is useless. Let's continue it anyway; I swear to do better.
Getting to know you. Each coach has his own tendencies with this so we'll get better at it in time. With Hoke, he seems to like having consecutive numbers in the same position group, perhaps for mentoring purposes because they sit next to each other in the locker room. It's far from a rule, but it's a trend. Carr rarely let a player share a specialist's digit, but Hoke doesn't seem to have a problem with it, for example Wormley and Hagerup share a number, and walk-on tight end Alex Mitropoulus-Rundus (I'm gonna just start calling him "Alex M-R") has the same digit as backup punter Kenny Allen. Rich Rodriguez was far more apt to share numbers, and the single digits were nearly always doubled up; Hoke has said in the past that he doesn't like doing that, and the practice has been limited—as of spring just 5, 12 and 34 had scholarship recruits in both numbers, adding 54 and 56 to those double-occupied by players on the two-deep.
The roster lies. The official MGoBlue.com roster still doesn't have DeAnthony Hardison, that nifty RB you saw in the Spring Game. He's #18. Also a practice insider told me Anthony Capatina is playing slot receiver, not "DB" as he's listed on the depth chart. Also weirdly missing from that roster is #79 right tackle Dan Gibbs (a Seaholm Mape!!!), a 2012 preferred walk-on whose twitter profile pic is him riding an oliphant:
Legends/Special #s: 1 because Braylon's scholarship killed the fun, unless Gallon gets it. It won't come as much of a surprise to you that 2 will probably be entering the Legends program this season. There will also be some push for 16, and I doubt it'll be assigned to an offensive player immediately. 11 for the Wisterts, 21 for Desmond, and 87 for Ron Kramer are currently open; it is likely they'll be assigned to veterans whose digits might then be made available if it happens before the season. Bennie's 47 and Jerry's 48 remain occupied by current players and there's no way a second guy will get them. And I've been told they're still working on the Harmon family with 98. Anyway they won't go to freshmen.
Already worn on both sides: 5 (Courtney Avery and Justice Hayes), 6 (Raymon Taylor and Brian Cleary), 12 (Gardner and Allen Gant), 13 (Terry Richardson and Alex Swieca), 15 (James Ross and Shaun Austin), 34 (Jeremy Clark and Brendan Gibbons), 43 (Chris Wormley and Will Hagerup), 54 (Richard Ash and Jareth Glanda), 56 (Ondre Pipkins and Joey Burzynski), 69 (Willie Henry and Erik Gunderson), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Michael Jocz).
Available on offense only: 4, 7, 14, 18, 22, 24, 25, 30, 33, 35, 40, 50, 52, 53, 55, 57, 59, 66, 76, 92, 96, 97, 99
Available on defense only: 3, 8, 9, 10, 17, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 38, 39, 42, 45, 46, 49, 51, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 67, 70, 71, 72, 75, 77, 78, 82, 84, 85, 86, 88, 94
Walk-ons with soft claims: Every year there's a Jon Keizer on the roster who thinks his number is safe, then some top running back recruit in the country (right: from Scout) runs him over with star power (dadada, didda-da diddadidda…). Scout teamers without scholarships often have their numbers taken, for example Charlie Zeller was 19 on the 2012 spring roster and Paul Gyarmati was sitting on 99, but Devin Funchess and Matt Godin nabbed those digits last fall. This year they are 15 (Shaun Austin—note that Ross has it on D), 18 (DeAnthony Hardison—note that Countess has it on D), 27 (Jon Keizer), 36 (AJ Pearson—note that Kerridge has it on O), 42 (Dylan Esterline), 46 (Clark Grace), 49 (Brad Anlauf), 51 (Bobby Henderson), 59 (Mark Lawson), 63 (Ben Pliska), 66 (Dan Liesman), 70 (Kris Mateus), 79 (Dan Gibbs), (91 (Alex M-R, though Kenny Allen wears it too), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Mike Jocz). The other walk-ons I didn't mention (Dever, Cleary, Glanda, Burzynski, Reynolds, Allen, Gunderson, Jocz and the Glasgows) are either on the two-deep already or in the mix.
Currently unused: 20, 23, 31, 32, 37, 41, 44, 64, 68, 73, 74, 80, 81, 83, 89, 90, 93, π
You just said Pi. We're Michigan fergodsakes. All the constants—φ, ζ(3), α and δ, Euler's e, γ, λ, K, r, and Ω—ought to be fair game, and if someone takes √-1 and uses the nickname "Impossible" he will be my favorite for ever and ever.
EVERYBODY LET'S ALL BE #7!!!
|Name||Pos.||HS #||Tea Leaves||Best Guess|
|David Dawson||OG||71||Wore 55 in Under Armour game, 33 in Army AA game.||55* - His Twitter acct is David Dawson 5⃣5⃣|
|Reon Dawson||BCB||1||Wore 13, 24 and 1 in high school.||31 - seems to fit.|
|Jaron Dukes||WR||8||Twitter handle is @Jaron_Dukes8||83*
|Chris Fox||OL||73||Wore #13 (?) at Army AA game and #33 at Rivals 5-star challenge||73* - Guy likes #3|
|Greg Froelich||OG||77||Wore that and 75 in high school (preferred walk-on)||76 - Not exactly Steve Hutchinson.|
|Ben Gedeon||MLB||15||James Ross is already James Ross.||45 - David Harris's # but precludes punt coverage.|
|Derrick Green||RB||27||Wore 27 in Army AA game.||27* - call it a hunch. Sorry Keizer.|
|Delano Hill||Nk/FS||11||Looks like he's 40.||32 (Kovacs's other #) or 23|
|Khalid Hill||FB/TE||32||Very Kevin Dudley of him.||32 or 23|
|Maurice Hurst||NT||50||Wore #11 in Semper Fi Bowl.||68 - Mike Martin's #|
|Da'Mario Jones||WR||11||Wore #7 in that photo of recruits in white M jerseys. #15 at MSU camp. Same school as Tony Boles, who wore 42 at Michigan but had 18 touchdowns so...||14*
|Patrick Kugler||OC||57||Wore 57 at UA game. Dad and bro wore 57.||57 - O'KUGLER RULES!|
|Jourdan Lewis||CB||1||Also wore #17 at Cass Tech, #27 at Army AA game.||17 or 3 or 37.|
|Mike McCray||SAM||9||Wore #9 at UA game. Father wore 99 at OSU||9* - He and Dileo both likely to be on special teams, but not the same groups.|
|J.J. McGrath||K||13||preferred walk-on||35 - Or some kicker number.|
|Shane Morris||QB||12||Gardner switched, so...||7 - he already tweeted it.|
|Henry Poggi||3T||7||Wore 17 at UA game. Was given #7 locker in May. Plays jazz flute.||70 - Ross Douglass already took 7.|
|Dan Samuelson||OG||74||Photo out there of him wearing a Nebraska 74 jersey. Twitter handle is @dansamuelson74.||74 - it's available.|
|Wyatt Shallman||FB||49||49 is available on defense.||33* for his DCC teammate who passed away.
|Deveon Smith||RB||4||Is a 4-star?||4 - It's open.|
|Blaise Stearns||WR||1||Townie: Can't find what he wore at Huron before transferred. Preferred walk-on||89 - Doesn't exactly get 1st pick.|
|Channing Stribling||FS||8||#22 commit to the class.||8* - It's open|
|Scott Sypniewski||LS||56||Wore #45 at his long-snapper camp.||41 - Who cares.|
|Jack Wangler||WR||21||Dad wore #5 at Mich (preferred walk-on)||16*
|Csont'e York||WR||1||Was #667 at NFTC||81 - With an eye toward dropping the 8.|
Go ahead and make your guesses. We'll have our answers in a few weeks.
* UPDATE: After I posted this Magnus alerted me to his post of numbers that have already been revealed. I had some good guesses. I crossed out my comments if the guess was wrong.
Yay recruits! I have no idea who these people are! /Upchurch
It's ours again, the title they don't give you for having the best recruiting class three months before the previous season begins. Yes, other classes are going to finish strong once a lot of five-stars make their decisions, you know, eight months from now. But like Notre Dame's September Heismans and OSU's November national champs, being in the top spot is better than not being there.
You know those Big Ten recruiting roundups Ace does? EGD did the same for our non-conference opponents in the years to come. Hello again Notre Dame…
|247 Rk||Team||Guys||5*||4*||3*||Scout Avg.||Rivals Avg.||ESPN Avg.||247 Avg.||Overall Avg.|
He's keeping it updated. Make it a weekly, guy with the Hail to the Thief logo. No Virginia Tech because even if the 2014 guys redshirt they won't be around for 2020. Good to see Bielema is still recruiting the Wisconsin way despite the move to the SEC.
Blueheron took a look at recruiting over the back end, in how many NFL draft picks Michigan contributed over X period. This was always going to be the case once we went to a spread offense but yeah 2009-'13 wasn't our best period. Relatedly Chris Brown of Smart Football asked for crowd-sourced data on conference contribution to NFL rosters and whether there's a difference for guys in the league less than 5 years. I responded with a chart (click it for full size)…
…and put the Excel doc in the public realm for anyone whose idea of a relaxing Memorial Day weekend is pivot tables. Meantime I saved the Big Ten comparison just for you:
So we've got more old dudes (even with Hutchinson and Backus retiring) left from the middle Carr years, but since Rich Rod we've had a Sparty-like contribution. I expect this will change with the NFL types now working their way up the roster, and in five years you'll look at this chart and see Michigan next to OSU (with maybe a residually small yellow portion). Really, Michigan is the difference between the B1G being just as much an NFL factory as the SEC, and being something between that and the Pac12.
In other people who probably love Pivot Tables, The Mathlete looked into the recruiting of Maryland and Rutgers to see where they get their players and if getting into those markets might help Michigan and co., kinda like how we went into Pennsylvania in the '90s and snatched up Rob Swett, Damon Denson, Will Peterson, Dave Armstrong, Marlin Jackson*, Scott McClintock, Tim Massaqoui, Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Chad Henne, Marques Slocum, and Marques Slocum's pet Fuck Lion.
*[Marlin could count for Ohio, since Sharon is just the Pennsylvania suburb of Youngstown, but then PSU still felt that one sharply. Speaking of PSU fans, if you know any tell them to get the Penn State version of HTTV (3 days left on the kickstarter).]
Getting Nebraska didn't come with the same windfall, rather the Huskers and their Ohioan of a coach are probably damaging Michigan State and Iowa and Illinois rather than opening up new territory. On the other hand D.C. and environs have a lot of talent which, unlike Nebraska, concentrates in a certain geographic area. Nudging Virginia Tech out of there would be nice. As a follow-up maizeonblueaction looked at how the SEC has fared in the Midlands since adding Texas and Missouri. Answer: very small uptick, but I disagree that you can tell from 2012 numbers since those kids were mostly at the "down to five schools" phase when A&M was announced. If there's an effect, it's probably the opportunity to play close to home sometimes, and to be on TV at home, which means kids in the Dallas region aren't going to go to Mississippi now because they'll get to travel to A&M, but Houston kids might.
And finally LSAClassof2000 downloaded the Rivals database and WENT. TO. TOWN. on charts of average star rating for B1G teams and comparisons to Michigan. I take two:
Arrested development. Speaking of recruits who didn't necessary pan out as well as we thought, hey did you see this year's hockey team? MGoBlueline did a comparison of the stats between the beloved 2011-'12 squad and the begrudged 2012-'13 guys. There's a mass exodus of defensemen from here and, guh, the streak. By the way his inspiration was Ron Utah's thing back in January that I know you didn't click on in January because I track those links – his does the same thing with the last two football teams.
And since the board's been pretty calm in these OT days, a quick…
Best of the Board
COMPANY CHEATS, GOOD GUY CHICKENS OUT, MUST BE TRESSEL-RELATED
yUP. mGrowOld had that dinner with Tressel he won for his company winning an award and him being a good employee who never posts pictures of his hot wife on the internet or spends time during the work day on message boards. But they pulled the bait 'n switch at the last minute and stuck the big sponsors instead of the promised winners at the keynote's table. GrowOld also chickened out about asking Tressel whether he was embarrassed, like at all, AND chickened out about the tie. Still a good read.
LIKE LITTLE YOU PEOPLE
MGoParents saw an opening when we didn't moderate an "OT: I Just had TWINS!" post and made an MGobaby thread, which became an all your kids thread. All the Aunt points in the world to julesh for crocheting a winged helmet for her brother's kid—you can tell your brother his laziness in not instantly getting a photo of the kid in the hat when duty called has cost his son a chance to be seen by thousands of strangers on the internet. Victor of the thread would still have gone to ems78, who produced* this:
Three weeks old and already has the song down.
* [Double entendre!]
ETC. Urban's secret: telling recruits he likes big butts, and he cannot lie—okay the other brothers are calling on the lying thing and say they deny—completely and utterly deny. And in the thread about the Penn State thing that SI was trying to make a thing but really wasn't a thing at all, this appeared and I wow'ed:
Origin? Previous thread? Did I miss a photoshop thread somewhere of Branch going on a destructive rampage of all sorts of famous photography? SIAP, but can we have one?
Your Moment of Zen:
Don't. Step. On. Our. Banner.
Site Notice: This Thursday we're planning a basketballgasm liveblog, culminating in the Michigan-South Dakota State game. Probably getting started with the afternoon games, so you've got from now until then to get your brackets filled out and get your work done before productivity goes to Bolivia. Viva March!
My new tradition. I'm not really the basketball guy around here, however I do seem to perform really well when it comes to March Madness brackets, getting back more than my pay-in every year since 2000 (won twice). The first six years of that was luck—since then I've just been working really hard at it so I don't lose the streak.
For those filling out their brackets today here's some helpful stuff. My favorite tool for clearing the biases is the Wall Street Journal's blind comparison. Also never miss the annual GARGANTUBRACKET by Czabe.com, the blog Bracket Science and the gloriously cheap calculator at Poologic, which lets you program how many upsets you want and find inefficiencies to exploit. Use SCIENCE! to take money from your friends and co-workers!
The last tool is my own (<<<<<grab it here>>>>>). It turns KenPom's ratings into a confidence %, and then automatically pulls up which venue the game will be at and whether there's any injuries you need to know about for either team. Who likes drop-down menus?
What I do is normalize the closest 16-1 matchup (Kansas vs. WKU at 22.6% difference in KenPom's "Pyth") as 100% for the 1 seed to win, and use the KenPom ratings to percentile everyone else's games into a confidence number. Then I roll through anything under 70% and decide if my knowledge of those teams might justify taking the under.
Here's the first round, where "Confidence" is a measure of how likely the top seed might be to win. The venue is listed so you can identify things like don't take Boise over K-State in KC, or how 12-seed Cal (a team worse than Virginia, Iowa, Denver, Baylor, Kentucky, Stanford, UConn, Maryland, and Sothern Miss according to Kenpom) is basically playing at home in San Jose.
[UPDATE: I had some errors in the below chart. Now fixed. The tool was fine but I've added an option to set your own chaos factor.]
|High Seed||Low Seed||Difference||Confidence||Venue|
|1 Louisville||16 North Carolina A&T||+62.6%||100.0%||Lexington, Ky.|
|--or--||16 Liberty||+68.8%||100.0%||Lexington, Ky.|
|8 Colorado St.||9 Missouri||-1.2%||48.8%||Lexington, Ky.|
|5 Oklahoma St.||12 Oregon||+5.4%||55.6%||San Jose, Calif.|
|4 St. Louis||13 New Mexico St.||+17.9%||68.6%||San Jose, Calif.|
|6 Memphis||11 St. Mary's||-3.2%||46.7%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|--or--||11 MTSU||-1.2%||48.8%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|3 Michigan St.||14 Valparaiso||+15.6%||66.3%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|7 Creighton||10 Cincinnati||-6.0%||56.2%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|2 Duke||15 Albany||+40.2%||91.8%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Los Angeles Regional|
|1 Gonzaga||16 Southern||+48.1%||100.0%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|8 Pittsburgh||9 Wichita St.||+8.1%||58.4%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|5 Wisconsin||12 Ole Miss||+7.7%||58.0%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|4 Kansas St.||13 La Salle||+3.9%||54.0%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|--or--||13 Boise St.||+6.1%||56.3%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|6 Arizona||11 Belmont||+6.2%||56.4%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|3 New Mexico||14 Harvard||+25.3%||76.3%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|7 Notre Dame||10 Iowa St.||+1.1%||51.1%||Dayton, Ohio|
|2 Ohio St.||15 Iona||+27.5%||78.6%||Dayton, Ohio|
|1 Kansas||16 Western Kentucky||+48.6%||100.00%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|8 North Carolina||9 Villanova||+4.0%||54.1%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|5 VCU||12 Akron||+8.1%||58.4%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|4 Michigan||13 South Dakota St.||+26.1%||77.1%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|6 UCLA||11 Minnesota||-5.0%||44.8%||Austin, Texas|
|3 Florida||14 Northwestern St.||+40.0%||91.6%||Austin, Texas|
|7 San Diego St.||10 Oklahoma||+5.7%||55.9%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|2 Georgetown||15 Florida Gulf Coast||+33.3%||84.6%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Washington D.C. Regional|
|1 Indiana||16 Long Island||+50.5%||100.00%||Dayton, Ohio|
|--or--||16 James Madison||+51.3%||100.00%||Dayton, Ohio|
|8 NC State||9 Temple||+9.0%||59.3%||Dayton, Ohio|
|5 UNLV||12 California||6.6%||56.9%||San Jose, Calif.|
|4 Syracuse||13 Montana||+37.4%||88.9%||San Jose, Calif.|
|6 Butler||11 Bucknell||+2.7%||52.8%||Lexington, Ky.|
|3 Marquette||14 Davidson||+8.8%||59.1%||Lexington, Ky.|
|7 Illinois||10 Colorado||+1.3%||51.4%||Austin, Texas|
|2 Miami FL||15 Pacific||+30.6%||81.8%||Austin, Texas|
If you're in a big pool, run multiple brackets, each with carefully selected upsets. There's no such thing as an NCAA tournament without lots of big upsets and at least one surprising run. The 1 seeds all made it to the Final Four just once. If you submit one milksop bracket you're up against every other milksop bracket and will get beat by the one crazy guy who had LSU going to the Elite 8 or something. Hitting on a carefully selected upset that rearranges a bracket and lets you ride a different high seed to the Final Four is the most typical route to a win.
If you're in a small pool, play conservative. One or two points won't usually make a difference in a small pool, but the likelihood of something crazy like that one guy's wife who picks based on the cuteness factor of mascots winning is cut down so you don't need to take risks to get ahead.
Pick the upsets the most carefully. I love picking 6-11 upsets because if you get it wrong they're bound to get wiped out by the 3 anyway. If you roll the dice on a 3-seed or lower losing early though, you'll feel like an idiot as the rest of your pool collects the easy points. A tournament without upsets never happens, but neither does a tournament with all the upsets. You can totally undo a great pick with a terrible one elsewhere.
Get value for your upsets. Know who's in your pool and the inefficiencies. Fans will generally take their favorite team to go two rounds later than they really belong and conference teams to go a round further. This is an inefficiency.
Be really really lucky. This is really the only rule.