Bracket Tips That Should Have Won Your Pool

After Kansas was upset in the second round by Northern Iowa, Matt’s bracket as well as the majority of other’s was busted. Photo by Nina Sasson/Foghorn

Who’s ready for March Madness? I’ve been waiting for the Madness since the college basketball season started in November. March Madness is the most exciting and entertaining tournament in all of sports. What separates March Madness from all other sporting events is the bracket pools that seemingly everyone joins whether it’s at work or with a group of friends. According to, a website that solves complicated mathematical problems, the odds of picking a perfect bracket is 9.2 quintillion to 1; in other words, impossible. No one is going to pick a perfect bracket but if you want a chance to win your pool, there are a few tips to follow.

Before making these picks make sure to do all the research you can to familiarize yourself with teams that don’t get national coverage. Every year a team comes out of nowhere to pull off huge upsets and the only way you can correctly pick that team is by researching all the under the radar tea Getting familiar with the teams will make it easier to fill out your bracket, and will give you a leg up on the competition. Here are a few must know tips to follow when filling out your bracket:

NEVER pick a #1,2 or 3 seed to lose its first round match up:

Since the Big Dance started in 1939 a 16 seed has never defeated a 1 seed, a 15 seed has beaten a 2 seed only four times and a 14 seed has defeated a 3 seed only 15 times. The odds of a low seed defeating a top seed in the opening round are too small to justify a pick. Higher seeds also have a greater probability of advancing to the sweet sixteen and beyond, so an upset pick in round one that doesn’t happen can cripple your bracket. Don’t be ballsy, play it safe with the top three seeds in each region.

Beware of the 5 v. 12, 6 v. 11 and 7 v. 10 match ups:

Every year there is at least one 12 seed that upsets a 5 seed. Since the tournament started 12 seeds have won 34% of the time, which is a high probability when you consider how this can change a bracket. The key is finding the right match up to pick the upset. 11 seeds have a lower success rate as they have won 31% of their match ups. But it seems that every year there is at least one 11 seed that pulls off an upset. Again the key is picking the right match up because picking the wrong one can do a lot of damage to your bracket. The 7 v. 10 games are as close to a toss-up as there is in the first round. 10 seeds have won 39% of their first round upsets. Depending on the match up, it would be wise to pick two 10 seeds to win their opening round games. Pay attention to these match ups because correct upset picks will give you a valuable advantage over your competition.

The 8 v. 9 toss-ups:

These games can go either way but pick the wrong winners and your bracket won’t stand a chance. The strange thing about these match ups is that 9 seeds actually win a majority of these games (54%). When filling out your bracket make sure to pick at least two 9 seeds to win. Identify the match ups that could go either way and advance those 9 seeds and don’t look back. Picking the right 9 seeds could be the factor in where you finish in your pool.

Don’t chalk it up:

It seems that the number one seeds are the best teams and because of this the Final Four will consist of all the number one seeds. But that is far from how March Madness plays out every year. Only once in the 70 years of March Madness has the Final Four consisted of all the number one seeds. Even though these teams may have been the best during the regular season, it is idiotic to pick all the one seeds to advance to the Final Four. But make sure you pick at least one number 1 seed to make it to the Final Four because a one seed has made it to the Final Four every year except for two years, in 1980 and 2006.

Find a Cinderella:

There isn’t a formula for picking a Cinderella team, even though that would be extremely helpful. But every year there is a team that comes out of no where, pulls a few upsets and wrecks everyone’s brackets that didn’t pick the right Cinderella team. Picking the right Cinderella is the difference between a winning and a losing bracket. When I pick a Cinderella team I want a team that is experienced, can score a lot of points and that has great guard play. If you don’t have good guards in March Madness then you won’t advance very far. An experienced team always has a shot at beating a more talented team because they have been tested before and know what it takes to win on the big stage. Also, your Cinderella should be a good road team since all games during March Madness are played in unfamiliar arenas. These factors can help pick a Cinderella team but there is no guarantee that it will help you pick the right Cinderella team. When picking a Cinderella make sure to hold a four-leaf clover and a horseshoe, because you will need the good luck.

After following these tips, it’s time to pick a National Champion. This year may be the hardest year to pick a champion because there is no team that is clearly better than everyone else. Kentucky is the most talented team in the country, they have played well all season and have a knack for winning close games but they are very inexperienced as their best players are Freshmen (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe) and they have only one Junior (Patrick Patterson) playing major minutes.

Kansas is experienced and has been the most consistent team all year but will they be able to win again after winning two years ago? Syracuse plays the best defense out of anybody and they are experienced but they have looked bad in some of their loses. There are many other teams that have what it takes to win it all including Duke, Kansas St., Ohio St, Villanova and West Virginia.

I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these teams are able to win the Championship, which makes this year so hard to choose a winner. With that said my pick is Kansas because of their experience and talent but I don’t feel good about my pick given the uncertainty this year. Kansas is the safe pick, which is why I’m going with them to cut down the nets once again as the crowd cheers “rock chalk Jayhawk”.


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