According to Robert Deutsch of USA TODAY Sports, “The one inalienable truth about March Madness is that your bracket – and my bracket, and the overwhelming majority of brackets from coast to coast – will very likely implode by the end of the tournament’s first weekend.”
It’s a science, right? – March Madness Bracketology – and everybody’s got their own slant on picking a winning bracket.” Well, NETimeGambling.com has looked into suggestions for a successful bracket. Our disclaimer for these suggestions is “follow them at your own risk. While many are based on statistics, we all know that surprises are inevitable. Here are considerations to help beat the odds from various sources.
Considering data from 1985 since the tournament field was expanded to 64 teams and 32 first-round games Mike Benzie, from NCAA.com, says “…here are some things we learned:
- The world is not picking the 12 seed enough – No. 12 seeds win almost 36 percent of their games, but we pick them a little less than 23 percent of the time.
- The 8-9 game is a virtual lock. We’ve picked the 8 seed at a slightly higher clip, but it’s really close.
- You can go with the higher seeds in the first round, but you probably want a total of six upsets among teams seeded 10-15. History shows that’s about how many of those lower seeds actually win in the first round. That’s where the skill comes in – picking those six and trying not to knock out a potential Final Four team. Last year, 10 such double-digit seeds won.”
Dr. Tim Chartier, a professor of mathematics at Davidson College, has come closer than most in identifying the dynamics involved in March Madness. He says,
- Strength of schedule is the biggest factor of them all. Teams that are hardened by a tough path to March testing itself against the nation’s best are best positioned for a successful run
- Second to the strength of schedule is how a team fared in the weeks before Selection Sunday.
- Ignore winning percentage – If how a team fared down the stretch is vital, overall winning percentage during the regular season is not a good bracket barometer. “Winning percentage is really bad because the teams with the highest winning percentage are often not in the tournament because they were in weak divisions and they didn’t win their tournament and get an automatic bid. Sometimes, those larger winning percentages are because they played an easier schedule for a portion of the season.
Finally, considering tips for actually winning your NCAA Tournament pool, we turn to By Luke Morris, Staff Writer from Sports Day in Dallas Texas.
- Know your pool’s scoring system: This first step could dictate plenty of decisions throughout your bracket. By knowing whether a pool’s scoring system weights upset victories and whether correct pick values multiply with each successive round, you can determine how aggressively to play.
- Easy as 1, 2, 3 (usually): Only one champion in the past 15 years has been seeded lower than No. 3. (Go UConn, #7 in 2014!)
- Look back at nonconference play: Teams from lesser-regarded conferences are harder to evaluate. Look back at their non-conference games. Teams who keep contests close or hold opponents to low scores can have Cinderella makings.
- Advance all 4-seeds at your own risk.
- The second-round slip: Boot one of the #1 seeds and #2seeds out in the round of 32. At least one of each has dropped out in that round since 1996.
- Conferences to avoid: Here’s a warning for those tempted to pick a Big Ten or Pac-12 school as champ: Those two major conferences have not produced a national champion over the last 16 seasons.
One note – this is based on statistics for the Mens NCAA Bracket, not the Womens NCAA Bracket. While you still can’t forget undefeated UConn (even with only one McDonalds All-American in a down year?), the field in the women’s game is much more competitive this year. Baylor, South Carolina, Notre Dame & Mississippi St. are all capable of winning the whole thing. Tennessee, Washington and Stanford are all on a roll and should be watched as well.
Good Luck in your brackets.