Breaking down the Madness this March

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - You'll hear about it at school, at work, even at home; it seems like everyone is talking about March Madness and their brackets. March is the most eventful time of the year for college basketball, but you don't have to know anything about it to participate.

There is no method to the madness. Your chances of filling out a bracket is 1 in 9 quintillion, that with 18 zeros. While there is no set rule, there are some guidelines that will help you win your office pool.

"It just takes over everything," said Steve Mikkelson, race and sports book manager at the Atlantis. "It is 12-13 hours of pure entertainment."

March always seems to bring the madness out of the most unlikely fan and this year is no different.

"I would love to see the Indiana Hoosiers win it," said Mark Hult from Indiana.

"Let's go Huskies; let's do it again one more time," said Frank Stangarone from Reno.

Everyone has their own method to filling out a bracket.

"I play with my heart. When the hair on the back of my neck stands up, that's my team," said Hult.

This year is an open field. There's no clear winner, so the chances of your bracket winning is much higher."

"There's a lot of parity, lot of good teams, you can look at it and there could be 12 or 14 different teams that could have a case in the national championship," said Mikkelson.

Some basic logic of filling out a bracket:

1. A 16 seed has never won in the first round.
2. It's rare to have a 14 or 15 seed advance into the Sweet 16.
3. At least one number 1 seed always makes it to the Elite 8.
4. There's always a Cinderella team.

"The first two days, everyone is rooting for the upsets to the Sweet 16, the Butlers the Gonzagas," said Mikkelson.

It's estimated that 40 million Americans fill out more than 70 million brackets this year, generating about $9 billion.

Whichever team you root for, remember there is no science to it, so go with your gut and don't over-think.

"When you're a die-hard IU fan, you take them all the way," said Hult. "It usually doesn't work out for me."

Brackets need to be filled in before the first game, which starts on March 17, at 9:15 a.m.

Good luck!