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Bracketology: Step by Step

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So many choices, so little time. CBSSports.com makes it easy for you with this step by step primer for filling out your brackets.

First, keep in mind that when we say we are making it easy, we're speaking relatively. There is no exact science to filling out a bracket. So much ends up being a result of gut feeling, intuition (male or female) and good, old fashioned luck. So what we have here are tips to the novice bracket filler-outter.

1. No No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1, so just forget about those games altogether and advance the No. 1s on to the second round.

2. Don't go putting all your No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. They might be the best teams on paper, but since 1979, it's only happened once -- last season. At least one No. 2 seed has reached the Final Four in six of the last eight seasons.

3. Pick your upsets carefully. It's inevitable that a No. 12, 13 or 14 seed will win in the first two days, but trying to pick which one is almost impossible. Look for a team that has a veteran starting five. A No. 12 seed with four seniors and one junior will be more likely to reach the Sweet 16 than one that has a bunch of sophomores starting.

4. There is no such thing as "Team X is due." Just because Xavier or Gonzaga have never won the NCAA Tournament, it doesn't mean they are going to run through the bracket and win it all.

5. Watch out for injuries. If a team's star has a serious injury, it would be wise to keep that team out of the Final Four. In 2000, Cincinnati didn't have Kenyon Martin but was still awarded a No. 2 seed. The result? The Bearcats lost to Tulsa in the second round. Marquette is a perfect example of that this season. Dominic James is hurt and will almost definitely hurt Marquette's chances of running deep into the tournament.

6. OK, we know you are a big Cleveland State fan. You love your Vikings and are excited they are in the NCAA Tournament. That's great. Now, don't be a homer and have them facing North Carolina in the final. Be objective.

7. Don't underestimate the familiarity factor. If two teams already played this year, take a look at what happened between those two teams in the regular season and whether or not they faced off in their conference tournament. It's rare that a team can beat another three times in the same season.

8. Have fun. This is the NCAA Tournament! The greatest sporting event in the history of sports!

And if all that fails, close your eyes and pick a team -- you never know, you might end up with the two that end up squaring off the championship game.

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