Sure, predicting the first- and second-round upsets is always fun--and we've got a handful of sleepers to consider this year--but if you're going to win your NCAA tournament bracket pool, you're going to need to nail your Final Four picks.
It certainly depends on the format and scoring system of your particular pool, but if you correctly predict even two or three teams in the national semifinals--especially if one of those isn't a chalk pick--then you'll likely be in excellent position in your pool. Before we get to this year's picks, let's take a little look at recent history and how it may assist you in filling out your bracket.
You should include at least one No. 1 seed in your Final Four. Over the last 11 tournaments, only twice have all four seeds failed to make it out of their region (2006: No. 3 Florida, No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 LSU and No. 11 George Mason; and 2011: No. 3 UConn, No. 8 Butler, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 11 VCU).
At the same time, you probably don't want to have any more than two No. 1 seeds making it to Phoenix. Over that same 11-year span, only four times (two in 2007, four in 2008, two in 2009, two in 2012) have two or more top seeds advanced to the Final Four in the same tournament. Five tournaments in the last 11 years--and four tournaments in the last five years--have featured exactly one No. 1 seed.
Also, don't be afraid to be bold. In the last four tournaments, there have been five teams seeded No. 7 or worse who have advanced to the Final Four. It's not a trend that will likely continue every year, but it's a sign of the growing parity in college basketball.
With all of that in mind, you can click through the gallery for my 2017 Final Four predictions. (Getty)
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