Rarely is Miss Wingman rendered speechless – after all, people share some dicey things when you have a site like this. But this morning, I found my notable exception. Whilst trolling the web, I came across this story. And I just…I mean, I can’t…There are. no. words.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to click the link (seriously, it may be Monday, but how lazy can you be?), here’s the gist: A couple of software engineers in Iceland just designed an award-winning dating app that, when you bump phones…wait for it…tells you whether the person you’re trying to, um, bump in other ways, is a blood relative.

That’s right, boys. If you’re worried about incest – there’s an app for that.

And why the f**k would any guy trying to take that smoke show home from the bar be concerned about such a thing, you ask? Good question. Because apparently, in Iceland – a country with a population of only 320,000 – virtually all of them “can trace their ancestry to the island’s 9th century settlers.” Many of whom, presumably, resemble Bjork. Either that or Ivan Drago’s wife in Rocky IV, with better hair.

Newsflash, gentlemen: If you live in a country that’s so inbred that you can’t even take a chick home without worrying that she may be your cousin, it’s time to move.

I don’t care how hot those viking women are, abort mission and start packing immediately. In fact, one of the most common questions men use in Iceland when they roll up on potential girlfriends isn’t, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” (ironic in and of itself, actually.) It’s “Hverra manna ert þú?” or, literally translated, “Who are your people?” Like, your ancestor people. Like, that’s a real thing. That they really have to ask.

No but seriously, dudes. That’s your cue to leave.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering how the app works, it taps into Iceland’s central genealogical database, which most Icelanders use to trace their lineage. Then, if the nearest ancestor is too closely related, your phone sets off an “incest-prevention alarm,” and sends you a text message.

Which, I’d imagine, says something like “Congratulations, your grandparents just c**k-blocked you.”

Anyway, sorry to disappoint all you curious types, but in order to download the app, you must have an Icelandic social security number. Guess you’ll just have to take your chances that you won’t run into your latest conquest at the family reunion. And for those of you in states like West Virginia, good luck with that.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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When it comes to approaching someone you’re interested in – whether it be at a bar, the gym, the supermarket, whatever – all I have to say is, “I’m so glad I’m not a dude.”

Yes, the art of the approach is a delicate one, gentlemen, and plainly put – it sucks to be you. True, Miss Wingman has schooled you more than once on how to execute this maneuver within certain situations, but it wouldn’t hurt to clue you in to what’s going on in our heads while you’re sweating it out. Consider it a play-by-play analysis, boys – though I suppose I should apologize for the title. It’s not that we’re judging you, per say, it’s more like dissecting. Or…no, wait, info gathering. No…

Oh hell, fine. We’re judging you. And if you’re smart, you’ll beat us at our own game.

The zero hour (i.e. the moment we realize you’re beelining in our direction): There’s an initial second of panic on our end. “Sh*t, is he looking at me? Do I want him to be? How do I look? Do I have anything in my teeth?” and a host of other female neuroses. So don’t worry, you’re not the only one holding your breath. Incidentally, we’re also probably checking to see if your friends are hotter than you, so you might want to leave the Bradley Cooper types at home, bro.

Then we size you up, from the top down. I know it’s harsh, but hey – no one ever said broads weren’t superficial.

Before you even start speaking: We’re looking at your hair – is it combed? Your shirt – is it tucked in and belted? Does it have a wrestling logo on it? (No Tap Out, please.) Is it shiny and tight? Revealing too much chest hair? Hopefully none of the above. Next is your shoes – are they regulation guy footwear? Or something offensive, like Crocs, white dress shoes, mandals (Merrells are the devil), or (gasp!) SWIMS? It might seem ridiculous that girls pay attention to such things, but we do.

When it comes to your appearance, we’re really just looking for clues into who you are, it’s as simple as that. And we’re hoping that who you are isn’t a guy who just robbed an Old Navy.

We’re also checking out your physique (hey, if you can do it so can we), your smile (it’s disarming, and way better than looking nervous), and what you have in your hand – a man’s drink says a lot about him, after all.

In the first 30 seconds: We’re listening to what you say. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: no pick up lines, guys. A simple “Hi, I’m _____” will do. Don’t ask us if we know you from somewhere, just tell us who you are and that you wanted to come introduce yourself. A simple “I noticed you” is enough to flatter us – leave the Barney Stinson game at home.

But you still have to have a follow up move, right? So use your resources. If you’re at a bar, offer to buy us a drink (um, not if we have a full one in our hands though, so pay attention.) If you’re at a party, ask how she knows the host. In the park? See if she wants to join your game of frisbee, or use your dog (or hers) to break the ice.

Don’t over-think this part, fellas. You talk to dozens of people every day, just be yourself. And if you’re really struggling, ask us questions – it keeps the pressure to be interesting off of you, and it tells you whether or not you even want to continue talking to this girl anyway.

In the first five minutes: We’re watching your body language. Are you respecting our personal space? Engaging our friends in the conversation? Making eye contact? All of these are a huge thumbs up. If you seem uptight, or worse – check out girls over our shoulder – don’t be surprised if things go south. Another thing we’re praying to avoid? Standing downwind of bad breath, or hearing you any egregious grammatical errors. We’re not expecting you to be Hemingway, but we’re hoping you have at least an 8th grade education.

In the first 10 minutes: If you get that far, and that’s a big “if,” you’re doing well. At this point, if she hasn’t run you off or suddenly had to pee (read: escape to the ladies room or “find her friends”), then you’ve got a solid chance. Remember, women know within the first 10 minutes of meeting you whether or not we’d sleep with you. It’s hardly scientific, but it’s true.

From this point on, the game is yours to lose – meaning, you can really only eff it up if you do something rude or socially awkward. And like I said, if you’ve made it that far without bungling it, chances are strong that you won’t. So it’s a safe bet that we’re wondering when you’re going to ask us for our digits, and hoping that you do. Now is the time to ask when you can see us again. And if you’ve read the tea leaves right, she’ll probably oblige.

Whether you choose to stick it out beyond this point, or make a tasteful exit is up to you, gentlemen. It’s not a bad thing to leave us wanting more. Just remember that even though we may be sizing you up, doesn’t mean we’re not hoping you like what you see, too. And if you have a rough take off or a bumpy landing, no worries. Just call for back up – that’s what wingmen are for.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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They say only two things in life are guaranteed. No, not that every Kardashian will get their own reality spinoff and that Miley Cyrus will end up working the pole – but those are strong bets, too. Nay! Death and taxes, gentlemen. That’s what you have to look forward to (incidentally, I probably won’t drink to that).

But now that your tax return has been filed (or at least it should’ve been, slacker), you may be asking yourself, “What should I do with all of that cheddar Uncle Sam will be tossing my way?”

Wait, what’s that you say? You owe the government money? Ha, well then sucks to be you. All the rest of us poverty-stricken kids get rewarded for our beggared lives by being handed back a portion of our meager pittance wages. Income? What’s that?

But even if your tax return was in the negative this year, you can still partake in the fun suggested below. It’ll just have to be out of pocket. Um, and feel free to spot the rest of us a couple bucks, while you’re at it.

I give you The Top 5 Ways To Blow Your Tax Return Dollars… (other than hookers and blow, obvi). Because saving is for suckers, y’all.

5) Take her to dinner. The Federal Treasury doesn’t need to have coughed up a boatload of cash for you to wine and dine your dame du jour on the government’s dime. I’ll bet that here are plenty of moderately priced little gems hidden throughout your city. If you happen to live in NYC, one such place is west village standout Buvette. From the oh-my-god-you-have-to-taste-this dishes (mostly small plates, but still) to the cozy decor (a garden space, score!), this French-inspired gastroteque will leave you swooning. And, more importantly, her.

4) Treat yourself to tickets. Sporting events and live music are Miss Wingman’s favorite  luxury indulgences. Well, that and Chanel…but we’ll keep it simple, boys. Whether you prefer just behind the dugout, or floor seats for your favorite band, nothing breaks up your usual routine like skipping the bar scene for a night. Or three. It is festival season, after all. Plus, you might get lucky and score seats next to a stunner – you never know.

If you live in NYC, artists like Fun., Bon Jovi, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake will be playing outdoor shows this summer. Plus there’s always a Yankee game (or that other team, what’s their name again?) And if you live in another city, like Boston, check your local Time Out listings.

3) Score some new clothes. Some what? You know, that sh*t that you pull on over your limbs every day? That stuff’s supposed to be coordinated in a stylish, deliberate way, just in case no one told you. I know, guys hate shopping. But you just have to find your one vice to make it fun (sneakers? Italian suits? accessories? it all works – except brocelets). If you’re looking for a new go-to spot in lower Manhattan, check out Soho’s Carson Street Clothiers.

Sartorially savvy dudes know that this uber-hip (but not hipster d-bag) menswear boutique is where guy’s guys can go to find everything from on-site tailoring, to Blind Barber grooming products (not to mention kicks and shades in every style). Boasting their own private label as well as designers like Michael Bastian, Ian Velardi, Inis Meain, Mark McNairy and Ovadia & Sons (seriously, learn those names, please), Carson Street Clothiers should be on every man’s radar – and Amex statement.

2) Get outta town. Summer Friday’s are so close we can almost taste them. So why not plan a quickie getaway while the weather’s warm? Spots like Shelter Island’s Rams Head Inn and Rhinebeck’s quaint and historic Beekman Arms provide the perfect reasonably priced change of scenery within a manageable drive of the city. That’s New York City – the only one that matters, duh.

And finally…

1) Give back. But not to the government! OK fine, so I’ve already emphasized the importance (not to mention sexiness factor) of dudes who volunteer and give to charity, but just hear me out. If you find yourself with a small cash infusion (and some equally resourceful friends), you can channel something you’re interested in into something that helps the greater good.

Case in point? Beastie Boys badass Mike D and his Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck project. Launched in response to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Diamond and his hospitality industry buddies decided to pay homage to this beloved surf spot by feeding hot food to those who were out there helping to fix it up.

All it took was some initial paper (that’s where your tax return comes in, fellas), a good idea (seriously, who doesn’t love food trucks?!) and a desire to better the situation of those volunteers and residents left powerless and hungry while digging the beach – and their homes – out of the wreckage. Not to mention donations of food, time and manpower by Diamond and his restauranteur crew.

They’ve served up more than 19,000 free meals since the storm to appreciative, determined people. And since Mike D is who he is (read: my favorite), he can’t stop – won’t stop – and neither will they. Now if that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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If I see one more guy walking around carrying a navy blue canvas duffel bag, I’ll vomit.

Do me a favor, boys, and set down your corporate logo-emblazoned, work-issued, blue and green douche-tastic man purse and back away slowly…That’s it, yeah, just like that. Arms above your head and step away from the object in question. Why?

Because it makes you look like a Grade A, 100%, Certified A**hole, that’s why.

    Image Courtesy of www.Bankerbags.com (ugh, yes, that actually exists)

If you’re lucky enough to not know what I’m referring to, you either don’t live in a major metropolitan city like NYC, or you don’t hang out with anyone who works for a private investment firm or a bank. Either way, this carryall of the masses is the ubiquitous uniform of finance dudes everywhere. And it’s an accessory that needs to die.

Now hear this, gentlemen: I’m not saying that if you work in investment banking, private equity, for a hedge fund, what have you, that it automatically makes you an insufferable prick. There are plenty of good ones who get lumped in with the riffraff, it’s true.

I’m just saying that all of the men I’ve come across who fit that description happen to work in those industries. I don’t meet many school teachers, journalists or bartenders who exude a similar sense of entitlement, do you?

So is it a coincidence? Maybe. Am I a jerk for stereotyping? Probably. But I’m a jerk who wouldn’t sleep with you if you were carrying that rubbish, so you might want to listen up.

I know that these bags are work-issued, and that you use them to tote your gym clothes around. But guess what? Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you should use it. It’s like wearing a sign around your neck that says, “I may or may not be a horrible person, care to play the odds?” Um, no thanks. Vault that sh*t, boys. For real.

It’s statements like this, which I’m saddened to admit that I found on a beloved blog, that only reinforce my contention that people who drink the banker bag Kool-Aid are woefully misguided: “The Goldman Sachs bag is obviously the most coveted and respected of all the investment bank options — not only for its classic navy and green design — but also because of the bank’s prowess in the cutthroat world of finance. That also raises the question of how you are treated when you carry an investment bank duffel? Are the salespeople at Bergdorf more helpful? Are women more interested in you?”

Here’s the answer (in between gagging): Perhaps, sales people might be more attentive to you, God help us all. But any woman who likes you because you carry this classic prepster staple probably isn’t into you for your charming personality (and some of us are straight up repelled by it). So what’s your recourse, boys? Find an alternative.

Hudson Sutler, a company run by a couple of reformed finance-types, has created a more tasteful alternative. Equally disgusted by the poor quality, stigmatized accessories carried by their brethren, they launched their own line of commuter bags and weekenders a few years ago and the rest, as they say, is history.

Their bags, which range from $95-$130, come in a variety of colors and feature stick-proof resin zippers and customized, patterned linings, like plaids, pointer dogs and anchors. The two-tone color palette is still guy-friendly – think grays, reds and browns – but doesn’t scream “I’m a Master of the Universe!” like it’s Wall Street-worn predecessor.

And, for the truly proud alumnus, they’ve even discussed the possibility of incorporating university colors or logos, but only for large orders, so hit up your buddies if you’re into it, bro.

So carry your stuff in a Sutler, carry it in a backpack, hell carry it in a grocery cart if you’d like. But ditch the banker bag if you care to shirk the D-bag stigma, and raise the bar while you’re at it, boys. Chicks will thank you for it, Miss Wingman applauds you for it, and as for upping your style points? Consider it in the bag.DAPPER WINGMAN

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It’s that time of year again, Wingman faithful. No, not the baseball home openers time of year – that ended badly for my Yanks – but the onset of wedding season, boys.

That’s right, the nuptial onslaught has commenced. There go your weekends from now until the fall, lucky you. But in event that you’re not just an attendee at the festivities, but rather a participant, then this post, my friends, is for you.

Yes, who doesn’t love the best man/rehearsal dinner/graduation/anniversary party speech? That time-honored tradition where people who have no business speaking in front of large groups do so anyway. This usually involves tedious monologues about so-and-so’s bad haircuts as a child, the time they peed their pants in little league, or a litany of their post-college romantic failures.

Well, until somebody cries out for mercy and hijacks the mic, that is.

So just in case that person causing everyone to facepalm is you, here’s a list of my top ten do’s and don’ts that should keep your oratory skills at the height of their game. Ignore my suggestions at your own risk, fellas, but if you do, don’t be surprised if you crash harder than Kevin Ware on an elevated court. Ouch.

What…too soon?

I give you The Art Of Giving A Gentleman’s Toast. May you use it in good health, good measure and in good company.

Do: Be aware of your stance. People have a tendency to either be too rigid, or too spastic, depending on comfort level. Scared to death equals white-knuckling the mic and refusing to turn your head. Too casual equals knocking grandma’s chardonnay onto her lap while you gesticulate for dramatic emphasis. Try holding the mic with one hand, and putting the other in your pocket. The relaxed stance should help you…well, relax.

Don’t: Forget to be authentic. If you’re the austere one of the family (read: the serious, boring one), don’t suddenly aim for Dave Chappelle standup routine status. Likewise, if you’re known for being colorful (that’s the nice way of saying The Family Dumbass), keep your sentiments lighthearted. Remembering to be yourself is the key to a successful toast.

Do: Salute the occasion. Are you there for your big brother’s wedding? His (yikes) second wedding? Your parents’ 35th wedding anniversary? Sister’s law school graduation? Whatever the reason you’ve assembled, remember to call attention to it in a polite way. That is, “I’m so happy my brother finally found a woman who can keep up with him and compliments him well,” rather than, “We NEVER thought Kevin would make it down the aisle in a million years. Good luck with that, Cathy.”

Don’t: Bring up any exes. I repeat: DO NOT BRING UP ANY FORMER FLAMES, unless you’re certain that the bride has a good sense of humor. Nothing says “welcome to the family” like reminding her how many women took the groom for a test drive before she drove him off of the lot. As tempting as it may be to put together a catchy little number commemorating their conquests, avoid at all costs.

Do: Keep an eye on the clock. Assuming you’ve done a trial run of your speech before (and you have rehearsed it, haven’t you?), you should aim to keep the toast under five minutes long. Sure, you should speak slowly and allow pauses for laughter, but still – brevity, bro.

Don’t: Read. For the love of God, man, look up. Staring at a paper you’re clutching or reciting your toast verbatim will cause people to zone out in the first 30 seconds. Eye contact is key in engaging your audience, as is knowing your material. You should be able to execute solely from index card talking points. Training wheels are for babies, don’t be that guy.

Do: Put your best foot forward. Whether you lead with a joke, (“Someone once told me that the best man’s speech shouldn’t last any longer than it takes the groom to make love. Well, goodnight, everybody!”) or with an anecdote, start with your strongest material. Personally, I favor telling a story that captures the essence of the couple, or demonstrates perfectly the character of the person you’re toasting. Kicking things off with a “That’s so them” moment is a winner.

Don’t: Forget who your audience is, please. If you retain nothing else from this article, remember this – keep it classy. Sure, a well-placed expletive is sometimes in order (so long as it’s not in the vein of “wedded matrimony, motherf***ers!”), but not when table linens and grandparents are involved. Please refrain from re-telling any sexual stories, anything that involves body fluids, or anything that starts with the words, “One time, at our frat mixer…”

Do: Stick to a timeline. Touching upon something from the toasted parties’ past, followed by something about them now, and ending with a wish for the future is a nice way to tie it all together. Just don’t let the future part involve outing the bride for being knocked up.

Don’t: Confuse “toast” with “roast.” There’s a playful way to take jabs at people (“This marriage really is for better or for worse. John, you couldn’t have done any better, and Beth, you really couldn’t have done much worse”), and then there’s the wrong way to do it. Recounting the time the groom was nearly kicked out of college, or how the bride was once arrested in the Bahamas falls into the latter, FYI. Ain’t nothin’ funny about prison, y’all.

Well there you have it. The civilized way to address a room with charm, class and, most importantly, booze. So raise your glasses, if you would, to the words of Jonathan Swift. There is simply no occasion, that I’ve found at least, for which they’re not befitting:

“May you live every day of your life.”

I don’t know about you gentlemen, but I’ll drink to that.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

I leave you with this example of a well-executed wedding toast. The best man’s words strike a nice balance between wit and sentimentality. View the entirety or just the beginning. But either way, it’s worth the watch.

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Happy Monday, Wingman faithful. And since I’m a Georgetown fan, I use the word “happy” loosely.

I don’t care how many people are writing about the next big Cinderella story today, I still say “Suck it, FGCU.”

If you’re like me, you spent the weekend watching the tourney elevate men to kings, and then dash those empires to the ground almost as quickly as they rose. It’s been an emotional few days and frankly, I’m exhausted. But it got me to thinking…

Are guys usually graceful losers? Is there really a way to take the art of rejection like a man?

Eh, it depends on who the unlucky party is, but I suspect that some of you need a lesson on losing with class. From striking out with the ladies, to losing your job, to sports upsets of all kinds, failure can be a fickle beast. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain your dignity (and your composure). So pull up a chair, boys, because class is now in session. And this time, the only grade on your report card that matters is an F.

I give you How To Lose Like A Man:

*Assess the situation. How bad is it? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being getting brushed off by that blonde at the bar, and 10 being a game 7 upset in the 2004 World Series (from the perspective of a Yankees fan, obviously), where does it fall? If it’s above a 6, the requisite pouting-slash-bitter grumbling is allowed, sulk away my friend. Only for a little while, though. But if it’s just a minor ego bruise, put it in perspective and walk it off, man.

I understand that in matters of financial ruin, impending legal action or jilted love – being left at the altar must suck, I’ll give you that – the stakes are a bit higher. But try to remember that there will always be an upswing. Turn to your friends, faith, vodka, whatever. Just do what you have to in order to white-knuckle through it, and I promise you’ll make it out alive.

*Know when to take “No” for an answer. If we’re talking about your garden variety date proposition or failure to get a woman’s digits, sometimes persistence is key. I’ve known couples who started out as a relentless guy and a girl who eventually gave him a chance once he wore her down. And yes, those happy endings are possible, so long as you stay on the right side of the law.

But there are also times when you should bow out gracefully. Did you get passed over for a promotion? Ouch. But throwing a hissy fit will only ensure that you lose the job you do have. Has she moved on to someone else and told you that she’s finally happy? Brutal, but give her the courtesy of closure.

There’s a fine line between fighting for what you want, and disregarding someone else’s wishes (Steubenville, anyone?) And no, silence should never be confused with compliance. D*cks.

*Be a class act. As much as it might kill you, being the bigger man is always key. Even if you were a stand up guy for 99% of the time, if you punk out in the home stretch, whatever legacy you created for yourself will likely be ruined. And who wants to taint their own reputation? Resorting to cheap shots, cutting remarks or tantrums of any kind is never the answer.

Plus, recognize that your setback could be someone else’s moment for glory. And even if it is, that doesn’t mean you won’t get your turn one day, too. Would it suck to be John Stockton to Jordan’s game 6? Absolutely. (Or Eisley, for that matter, and suck is an understatement). But should you begrudge somebody their moment in the sun? No. Because A) It’ll make your own accomplishment that much sweeter and more appreciated one day and B) You know what they say about karma.

And finally…

*Crying Is not an option. I’ve made my beliefs on the Man Cry clear before, but just in case you need a reminder… Allow me to extol the virtues of just sucking it up once more. Sure, the relationship between chicks and your waterworks is a tricky one, boys, but in regards to sports? No such ambiguity. I leave you with the sore loser gospel according to Tom Hanks, even though I’m making a one-time exception and repeating a clip I’ve previously posted. Why? Because it’s a classic. And also, because the man has a point.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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Face it – your NCAA bracket is not going to win. Probably. No, not probably. Likely. In fact, even if you made every single one of your selections based on choosing the better-seeded team, the likelihood of that bracket being perfect is still 35 billion to one odds.That’s billion with a “B.”

In other words, you’re about seven times more likely to be killed by falling debris from space than you are of beating those bracket odds. Feel better now that the pressure’s off?

Good. But even though March Madness is Miss Wingman’s favorite time of the year, better even than my birthday, the beginning of summer or the days leading up to Christmas, that doesn’t mean I fill out a bracket with any reasonable expectation of winning. But damn if watching teams vie for glory in the tourney doesn’t make losing a hell of a lot of fun.

That said, there is an obvious link between the process of filling out your bracket and how you should approach dating. Yes, the bracketology-to-broads parallel is a strong one, and one that can be used for your educational purposes, gentlemen. And if there’s one thing Miss Wingman prides herself upon (other than being an unabashed smartass), it’s schooling dudes on how to navigate through our crazy and land the woman of your dreams.

So, even though I thought it wasn’t possible to beat last year’s “Selection Wingman” posting, I will try to elevate my game. I give you The Top 5 Ways Bracketology is Like Dating. Ready, set, go…

#5 Do Your Homework: From figuring out what Florida’s 3 pt shooting percentage is, to nailing down who Louisville has beaten out of conference, to analyzing the kind of defense Minnesota runs, it’s all about the research, boys. Stats and figures are your best friend. Just as, if you meet a girl you might be interested in, you should e-stalk the bejesus out of her like you’re recruiting a player. Hey, in fairness, we Google you, too.

There’s a reason Facebook is so useful, and it doesn’t involve being subjected to your high school friends’ baby’s photo shoot, engagement announcements or viral videos of the Harlem Shake. Incidentally, if you post any of that shizz, I’ve definitely blocked you from my news feed.

Do a little digging, find out what she’s into, and try to handicap the likelihood of your compatibility. And if it doesn’t look good, you can always scope out her friends.

#4 Use Common Sense/Instincts: If it seems like a long shot that a 16 seed will win, it is (and incidentally, it’s never happened). If she seems too high maintenance or over-dramatic for your liking, listen to your gut and cut your losses.

I know it’s better to check your emotions at the door when fill out your bracket, like ignoring your love for your Alma mater in favor of their actual hoop skills, but try to get a clear picture of their prowess free of bias. It’ll eliminate misleading distractions. Unless, of course, you’re me and your team just dominates (Hoya Saxa, b*tches).

But seriously, listen to the logical voice inside of your head. If you have a history of dating girls with dependency issues, or if she’s never been able to sustain a relationship long term, this is telling you something. Past performance is a powerful predictor of the future, so don’t forget to factor that in. Um, that said, ignore what I just said as an air-tight rule and…

#3 Don’t Ignore The Dark Horse: Sure, the numbers usually don’t lie. I’d love to imagine that UAlbany will take down Duke, because the only thing stronger than my hometown pride is my full-on hatred of the the Blue Devils. But it’ll never happen.

Back to my point, though – there are exceptions. Every year there’s always that long shot that achieves an upset none of us saw coming (Butler, anyone?). Those Cinderella stories that make us love the Madness, rip up our brackets, and ask, “Where the hell is Liberty University, anyway?”

You should approach the unlikely dating candidate the same way. Does she seem a little nerdy or serious for you? Maybe she’ll end up being fascinating. Physically not your type? She might make you laugh so hard she wins your heart. All I’m saying is, she may not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but entertain the possibility that she could be the Lehigh to your 2012 Duke team. Just as long as you stay open-minded.

Sorry, another Duke cheap shot. Like I said, aversion.

#2 The “WTF?!” Factor: Some things in life (and basketball) are unexplainable. Why does the clueless girl who picks teams based on cutest uniforms or favorite mascots win the office pool every year? Why do your douchiest friends always seem to land amazing girls and yet you’re single? You know what I’m talking about here, guys.

I wish I could explain it, but I’m a writer, not an effing magician. Just accept that there are going to be outliers, and that you should ignore what everyone else is doing and just focus on yourself. Process of elimination can be a crazy thing.

#1 Enjoy The Dance: In college hoops and in life, truer words have never been spoken (Thanks, MB). If the name of the bracket-slash-romance game is surviving and advancing to the next level, the only way to do that is to roll with the punches and leave it all out on the court.

Because in the end, dating is a lot like the tourney – everyone’s full of advice, but ultimately you just have to go with it. Things just have a way of coming together, so try not to forget that it should be fun. A lot, a lot, of fun. Good luck, gentlemen, keep your eyes on the prize, and as I’ve said before but it bears repeating – remember, it’s anybody’s game. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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