March Madness: Tips for a Good Bracket

The NCAA Tournament is here, let the madness that is March begin.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not Christmas, its mid-March. That means the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has arrived! Which also means we can now begin an age-old tradition, filling out a bracket. Whether it’s for fun, money, or just plain bragging rights over your bros, filling out a bracket has become as American as apple pie. Many of us, myself included, do struggle with filling out a bracket, and this year figures to be one of the most unpredictable tournaments we’ve had in a while. But have no fear, Bros Can’t Hang is here to help! Here are some tips to consider while filling out your bracket.

Don’t Have a “Chalk” Bracket… Until the End

A novice mistake when filling out a bracket for the tourney is picking only the favorites for every game, or a having a “chalk” bracket. Avoid this! Not every higher seeded team is going to win. It’s the NCAA tournament, upsets are going to occur. However, don’t avoid picking the higher seeds entirely. The teams with the 1-5 seeds are seeded this high for a reason, and they will ultimately be the teams playing in the later rounds of the tournament. Your bracket (*or brackets, depending on how into it you are*) should have plenty of higher seeds come the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and National Championship game.

Don’t Have All Number 1 Seeds Make it to the Final Four

Another rookie mistake is to pick all of the number 1 seeds to make it to the Final Four. Not only is it boring, but it could result in you losing your bracket pool, badly. Not every team can be a one seed, but the 2, 3, and 4 seeds are good teams too, and have favorable match-ups if they come to blows with the number 1 seeds. Have no more than two number 1 seeds in the Final Four, as none of the number 1 seeds this year are that dominant to the point that they will all meet come April 1st (*I’m looking at you Gonzaga*).

Pick Upsets Involving 5 and 12 Seeds

It’s a simple fact of life, a 12 seed always takes down a 5 seeds. Since 1985, a 5 seed has been upset by a 12 seed 49 times.  The actual rate a 5 seed wins these match-ups is 66.9%, the worst among the higher seeds. This year’s 5 v 12 seed match-ups include Virginia V UNC Wilmington, Notre Dame V Princeton, Iowa State V Nevada, and Minnesota V Middle Tennessee State. According to those odds, you should pick at least one 12 seed to beat a 5 seed.

Only Go Upset Heavy in The Early Rounds

The upsets occur in the early rounds of the tournament. If you’re one of those people who loves to pick the underdogs, do so in the first round. Other than the 5 and 12 seed match-ups I mentioned above, it’s perfectly fine to have a 3 lose to a 14 seed, a 4 lose to a 13 seed. If you want to be bold, go ahead and pick the first ever 16 seed to beat a number 1 seed. The first couple of rounds are primed for upsets.

Have 1 Team Seeded Higher than 4 go to the Elite 8

While I have said to stick with mostly “chalk” in the later rounds of the tournament, have at least one of the lower seeds go far. No, don’t pick the 16-10 seeds to go too far, but pick a 6 or 7 seed go to the Elite 8. This will be your “Cinderella”team, the one nobody expected to make it this far, but the one that could result in you winning in your bracket pool.

Follow these tips and you’ll have the bracket that all others in your pool will envy. You have been warned, however, as this year’s tournament seems like the most unpredictable one in years. Come back soon and I’ll have my late round picks!