Tip Drill: Invitations, advice, and the usual general randomness

When anyone invites you to be in a league or pool in March, it's un-American to say no. This is a mandate. We are a nation built on side action.

Here's your latest invitation to humble the Yahoo! experts (come on, you know you want to) with your sublime college basketball knowledge:

The Dagger - 2009 Tourney Pick'Em

Group ID: 175998

I could end this blog post right then and there, but I have some more homespun advice to offer from the Random Pianow Files. Keep the thread alive and offer your own tips in the comments.

Never get on a plane without music and headphones.

Don't overreact to veteran players who have crummy springs (I'm looking at you, Cliff Lee). With younger players it's a totally different story; they might be playing themselves out of a job or even off the roster.

Be gracious and overtip when you get outstanding restaurant service. They deserve it.

Stay through the end of the credits. There's good stuff there if you know what to look for.

No one likes a seven-hour draft. Keep the process moving. A bad pick here and there, that happens; a day filled with slow selections, that's a virus.

Screen your phone calls. It's an invitation to talk, it's not a mandate.

If your travel plans are flexible, don't fly on a Monday or a Friday.

It's the 40th anniversary of the Ball Four season; give it another read. It's not so much a book on baseball as it is a book on people who happen to be baseball players; Psychology students should be studying the group dynamics at play.

The best free-agent pickups always come in the first quarter of the season. Be vigilant, be aggressive. B-E-aggressive.

When it comes down to cashing in NCAA Tournament pools, the biggest key is finding the best teams that aren't trampled in play. Try to identify the Top 10 school that's least trusted in the court of public opinion. I've won a handful of pools on this principle alone over the last 20 years.

Never eat at a chain restaurant when you're in a big city. Seek out the hidden gems, the one-of-a-kind stops.

Get in one casual fantasy draft every spring where you just take guys you like. No strict strategy, no ADP overhead, no hardcore mandates - just play it loose and take 24 players you'll enjoy rooting for.

Never pass on a game that's being called by Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas. I don't care if they're at a badminton match in the Sudan, sit down and listen. This is the best three-man booth in the history of broadcast sports.

Podcasts make for a great travel companion; load some up as you finish packing.

Dominic James went to Marquette for eight years. You will never be able to convince me otherwise.

Flowery language is vastly overrated. The simplest way to describe something is often the best.

The truest test of any relationship (or friendship) is a day trip in the car. If things go smoothly, that's a keeper. If it's a day of hell, you've got cracks in the foundation.

Let's keep this ticket open; I'd say more now, but I'm late for a draft.

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