Erin Andrews' tips for bracket success
Crazy about college basketball? Erin Andrews might have you beat.
When her beloved Florida Gators were struggling against Purdue in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2007, the current FOX Sports TV personality ripped the sheets, pillows and blankets off of her bed in a fit of anger. Surprisingly, the Gators’ fortunes changed. The team suddenly rallied to beat Purdue and went on to win a second straight national title.
Good news for her. Bad news for her bedding. Now every time Florida has a big game, Andrews superstitiously tears off her bedding and throws it in a wad on the floor. Just one more example of how maddening, and wonderful, college basketball can be. And this season is no exception.
"I think this has been the wildest and wackiest season in college basketball," Andrews said. "I think it’s going to be insane."
That’s not an exaggeration. Five different teams laid claim to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll this season, and teams have lost while ranked No. 1 seven times – compared to three last season. So how should fans deal with their brackets in a season that’s even more unpredictable than most? First off, Andrews suggests not settling with one.
"Do several," she said. "And do your research. Read about the sleeper teams and players that are injured. Watch them during the conference tournaments. I find it all – scores, photos, video, brackets and more – on FOXSports.com."
She also said fans should watch for teams who play noticeably different at home and on the road, and those who get extra rest between a conference tournament and the NCAA tournament.
One team Andrews is interested in watching is Missouri. The Tigers have struggled on the road this season (2-8 in true road games), but they’ve also shown flashes of being able to compete with anyone. Consider the Tigers as a sleeper to advance beyond what their No. 9 seed might suggest, Andrews says. She’s also eager to see how Gonzaga does with a No. 1 seed, how Ryan Kelly’s return helps Duke’s momentum going into the postseason, and whether or not Indiana can deliver on early-season promise.
Andrews has credibility even beyond her career in sports. She won a large bracket pool years ago in 2006 when Florida won it all. But she won’t fess up many details, other than to say "I just went with my heart."
Andrews’ love for sports goes back to her childhood when she spent time with her father watching the Celtics, Red Sox and Packers.
"I was the first born and our bonding was sitting on the couch and my dad introducing me to his teams," she said. "He told me, 'These are the Red Sox and they’ll break your heart.'"
FOX Sports has provided Andrews an opportunity to cover events in a way she never could before, like handing out the World Series trophy last fall, covering NASCAR at Daytona and the UEFA final in London. But this time of year it’s all about the Gators.
Florida finished the regular season ranked No. 13. That certainly leaves them in the conversation to contend in a season with few big-time favorites.
"We’ll see if they can pull off a surprise," Andrews said. "It’s up for grabs and that’s the best part."
Don’t just follow the basketball fever this year, be a part of it. Visit the Microsoft store nearest to you to give MSN for Windows 8 a try and see for yourself how FOX Sports on MSN loads seven times faster on average than other major online sports sites.