Before you get around to trying your hand at a NCAA Bracket contest, you’re probably wondering how best to increase your odds. Which NCAA teams are most likely to march on during March Madness could be construed as the easy part. It’s the tournament teams which fall to surprising upsets that often ruin a bracket.
Are there ways to predict the obviously successful teams and the most likely surprises? Can anyone be perfect? It turns out that the short answer is yes. It is indeed possible to pick the perfect bracket. However, the tips and information put forward may make you feel it’s better to guess and hope for the best. If you are VERY dedicated to that possible perfection, then here is how you get that perfect bracket.
First, know your odds and select accordingly. A Washington Post article suggested that the odds of picking a perfect NCAA tournament bracket are 1 in 9 quintillion. That means if you were to fill out nine quintillion brackets of various combinations, it would be pretty much IMPOSSIBLE not to have one of them be perfect. If you aren’t willing to go this route (which is completely understandable), there are less time-consuming tips around.
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) March 16, 2015
Next, do your research. Why a seemingly invincible team crumbled against an underdog could be explained by things like injuries to key players, a sudden losing streak, or the team’s post-season history. According to Howcast knowing this information when NCAA brackets are announced could give you an edge over someone picking teams based on their reputations alone.
Where are upsets most likely? Howcast says to pay attention to numbers five through twelve, as these are reportedly where they are more likely to occur. The tipsters also recommend that the seeding of the “elite eight” get tossed out completely as the last three rounds are statistical toss-ups. One last tidbit of note from Howcast is to pay attention to which teams can “play both a zone and man-to-man defense”. The reason is that these teams are most likely to advance based on strategies that can handle the variety of potential opponents.
— Kodi Gibson (@learnfinanceyyj) March 17, 2014
If you’ve given up on a perfect bracket and simply want a “winning” bracket”, His & Hers has advice to help you out. The duo recommend that you use common sense. If a team is extremely low ranked and obscure, then it’s not necessarily the best idea to assume that they’ll “upset” the top-ranked team in the country. They emphasized the 5-12 upset possibility (while recommending you pick a 12th ranked team) and pointed out that those ranked 11th tend to win their opening games one-third of the time. Meanwhile, teams ranked 10th have one 40 percent of their opening games.
Although the 2014 final game featured the No. 7 Connecticut besting the No. 8 Kentucky, it was only the THIRD time in history that one of the Top 4 seeded teams didn’t feature in this stage of the tournament.
If you’re not a stat hound who closely monitors statistics or that one person who is filling out 9 quintillion brackets, there is one other option for a perfect bracket: Luck. When it comes to odds of a perfect NCAA tournament bracket, there is only the highly improbable, not the utterly impossible. Yes, there is a chance that by trusting your gut and randomly plugging in teams to advance, you could inadvertently have selected the perfect bracket. However tiny that chance is according to all the naysayers, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s there.
Good luck to everyone filling out NCAA tournament brackets for 2015. If you’re chasing a winning (or perfect) bracket, these tips will hopefully help bring you closer to your goal!
If you have tried and true tips that you’re generous enough to share with the masses, feel free to comment below!
[Image Credit: Justin Sewell]