Julie Jacobson, AP
Staff members for the NCAA place the names of the teams in the Sweet 16 on a bracket in the media work room before the start of practices, Thursday, March 23, 2017, at the East Regional of the NCAA college basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

I was invited to participate in this year's NCAA Tournament picks contest — that'll teach me for responding to inter-staff messages and making eye contact — with the promise that a raise will be headed my way if I select a perfect bracket.

With that in mind, please come back on April 3 when I reveal my perfect bracket.

(Dang. Just checked the message again, and it appears the lawyers are going to make me fill out a bracket before March Madness begins.)

If you check out my bracket — highly suggested if you need a good laugh — then you'll see that I might be the only person in the country who picked Creighton to win it all.

Several things contributed to that:

1. I watch more Studio C (blame my kids) than college basketball.

2. I'm supposed to meet my wife in a few minutes, so I was forced to do rapid-fire picking.

3. I'm focusing most of my efforts on my NJCAA tournament bracket.

4. I enjoyed covering Kyle Korver while he was in Utah and saw that Creighton shoots well from 3-point range so that somehow convinced me that the Bluejays would pull off an early upset — and then they just got on a roll in my bracket. It was an impressive run in my mind, really. Congrats to my pharmacist friends!

The fine DeseretNews.com staff put together a handy bracket breakdown with info on all 68 teams if you're into actually knowing a bit about teams you're selecting. You can use that knowledge to take down yours truly and fellow guest VIP picker Dick Harmon in our free NCAA Tournament picks contest. Along with those certain bragging rights, the top three winners of the Deseret News contest will receive $500, $250 and $150 Visa gift cards.

Here's some valuable picking insight from ESPN that you might consider using — well, if you want your chances to rest on a lovable coach, the best hair, a random celeb fan and awesome names:

For those who really want to craft a perfect bracket — hopefully you get a raise like me — here are some more things you may or may not want to consider before clicking save on your submission along with some random things that entertained me while I worked on this piece:

• There are seven mistakes you'll want to avoid making, according to this NCAA.com article. They include:

  • Following your heart
  • Picking a No. 16 seed
  • Sweet 16 for Nos. 14/15
  • Picking a No. 4 or No. 5 to win it all
  • Four No. 1 seeds in Final Four
  • Having Cinderellas dance too long
  • Overthinking
(The eighth mistake would be heeding any of my advice.)

• Even though higher seeds win 71 percent of the time, the Washington Post believes the future isn't bright for three of the top seeds. Consider yourself warned if you pick No. 1 Xavier, No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Cincinnati.

• It's almost a blessing to be given a No. 12 seed. Teams in the 12 spot have won at least one game in 29 of 33 years while posting a surprising and very respectable 47-85 record against No. 5 seeds. The two 12 seeds that have the best chance of advancing this year, according to CBSSports.com: Murray State (vs. West Virginia) and New Mexico State (vs. Clemson). That article lists two other intriguing Cinderellas: No. 14 Montana (vs. No. 3 Michigan) and No. 11 Loyola Chicago (vs. No. 6 Miami).

• If you're embarrassed to ask and/or too disinterested to Google the results, UMBC stands for University of Maryland-Baltimore County (they're the Retrievers, of course); Wright State is in Dayton, Ohio (they're somehow the Raiders instead of the Brothers); Lipscomb is a private Christian university, not a makeup company; NCCU is short for North Carolina Central University, LIU is the Long Island University in Brooklyn (not LIU-Post, which has a better basketball name), and losing to High Point was a low point this season for Virginia-based Radford.

• Best wishes if you're doing a Virtuous Bracket and plan on only picking teams who aren’t being investigated by the FBI and/or the NCAA.

• This set a new record for how quickly somebody's basketball bracket was ruined in March:

• If you're still feeling clueless — well, we're all clueless when it comes to this — you might consider simply playing the name game. Here's some insider info on which teams will prove their superiority based solely on how much I like their nickname (a scientific approach, I know):

EAST: Highlanders (there can only be one, so I’m going with Radford and its immortal mascot) > Shockers > Lumberjacks > Thundering Herd > Razorbacks > Gators > Titans > Wildcats > Bulldogs > Red Raiders > Racers > Boilermakers > Mountaineers > Crimson Tide > Bruins > Blackbirds > Bonnies > Hokies (even though the hokey-pokey is what it's all about in life, it’s just not intimidating on the basketball court #sorrynotsorry)

MIDWEST: Horned Frogs (mostly because the mascot name makes me laugh — not as much as TCU Horny Toads would — and did you know this animal is actually a lizard?) > Bison > Sun Devils > Pirates > Blue Devils > Spartans > Cougars > Auburn Tigers > Clemson Tigers (Aubie is cooler looking than Clemson’s mascot) > Wolfpack > Rams > Gaels (sorry, St. Mary's, but only one Gael per tournament — those are the rules) > Aggies > Orange > Sooners > Jayhawks > Quakers (this would be a different story if this was an oatmeal bracket)

SOUTH: Bearcats (they kind of look like a honey badger without the white swath on top, and you don’t want anything to do with those) > Panthers > Raiders > Wolf Pack > Hurricanes > Bulls > Cavaliers > Retrievers > Ramblers > Longhorns > Volunteers > Bluejays > Kentucky Wildcats > Davidson Wildcats > Kansas State Wildcats > Arizona Wildcats (Kentucky’s mascot has the better name — Scratch > Will E. > Willie > Wilbur — but they all get docked for being different kinds of cats: copycats)

WEST: Jackrabbits (if you’re able to endure teasing that goes along with this nickname, you’ve gotta be tough) > Wolverines > Grizzlies > Musketeers > Aztecs > Seminoles > Bisons > Central Eagles > Cougars > Missouri Tigers > Texas Southern Tigers > Spartans > Bulldogs > Aggies > Tar Heels > Friars > Buckeyes (they’re not going to instill fear into anyone, but the Food Network does have a tasty-looking recipe for buckeyes, a peanut butter trifle dipped in chocolate)

FINAL FOUR: Highlanders > Horned Frogs > Jackrabbits > Bearcats

Picking as a Utah fan: The NIT is where all the real action is for the Pac-12 supporters, as the Utes, Washington, Oregon, Stanford and USC are in the 32-team field. Arizona State and UCLA both have to win First Four games to advance to the NCAA tournament, meaning it’s possible Arizona could be the only Pac-12 program in the field of 64.

Picking as a BYU fan: The Cougars were defeated three times by Gonzaga so they helped the Zags get a No. 4 seed, got beat by ninth-seeded Alabama and they lost to UT-Arlington, which lost to Sun Belt tournament champion and No. 15 seed Georgia State, so there’s that. BYU fans should really be rooting for Texas Southern, which won the SWAC tournament despite a 15-19 record. The Cougars walloped the Tigers 73-52 in December, so they’ll have bragging rights if TSU wins it all.

• President Trump did not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket last year — perhaps because Trump University's basketball team was not invited — but a good number of U.S. citizens hope he takes on that task this week. A survey by VPN company ExpressVPN revealed that 38 percent of Americans want Trump to fill out a bracket. The top reasons why, according to the survey:

  • To keep Trump away from the nuclear button (16 percent)
  • To carry on the tradition (13 percent)
  • To lighten the mood in Washington (8 percent)
Bosses might hear some interesting excuses for absences and/or less-than-stellar productivity on Thursday and Friday, the survey indicates. Twenty percent of Americans say they'd miss work to watch games, and 65 percent are planning on watching at work.

• We'll post an extensive article on the NIT, CBI and CIT bracket tips as soon as we can figure out what those acronyms stand for. We're penciling SLCC in to win the NJCAA men's and women's tournaments, though.

• I'll take anybody who reads this far into the article out to lunch with my raise if my bracket indeed turns about to be perfect. That said ... GO CREIGHTON!

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com