The past few times I've filled out one of those bracket thingies, I've been pretty lucky through no fault of my own. Typically, I just go by the team records and guess, without any overriding methodology or interest. The method Chad Orzel employs to create the "Worst NCAA Pool Bracket Ever" is pretty admirable though: NCAA picks by physics graduate program ranking:
Winners determined by the rankings of the physics graduate programs of the competing schools. (If only one of the schools offers a Ph.D. program in physics, that school wins; if neither school has a graduate program, the higher seed wins.)It is hard to see in the above picture, but basically it has Cornell over Wisconsin, with UNC and UCLA rounding out the final four. The last two aren't far fetched, but Cornell is wonderfully bonkers (update: they are already out! oh well, there is always next year Ivy League.) In fact the rest of the, um, 'elite eight' are actually not so weird either: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Duke, but I mean, come on. [Full pdf in original post.]
It is worth noticing that the schools begin seeded as they are in the actual tournament, by basketball, not Physics. If there were organized by Physics to begin with (get on this NCAA!) you wouldn't have Stanford vs. Cornell in the first round. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But then again, neither does polluting academic institutions with recruited athletes.