Written By, Brian Beltran
So maybe you’ve never heard of March Madness. Of course, if that’s the case, the rock you’re living under is the least of your worries. This is March. Legends are born and millions are clambering to see the stars of tomorrow make a name for themselves as amateurs.
In the 80 year history of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we have grown accustomed to hearing terms like “Cinderella” and “David vs Goliath.” Why? Watch this year’s Round of 64 and you’ll find out. No one is safe in the one-game knock out system of the tournament.
Historically, teams that advance furthest in the tournament are the ones that enter with the most momentum. This isn’t always the team with the most five-star recruits or the best coach. Sometimes it’s the mid major college that has no household names to bolster. This is March.
Alright, enough with the history. You know what this is all about. All of your peers and your social media feed won’t stop talking about this March Madness thing. You just want to know how you can surprise them all with your eerily accurate bracket. Here are some tips for who to pick and how to win your family pool.
- Don’t pick a 16 seed to beat a 1 seed.
- March Madness is all about the upsets, but only once in the tournament’s exhilarating history has a bottom seed upset a Goliath (ironically, it happened in last year’s first round.)
- Pick your Final Four teams first
- If you know even a little bit about college hoops, you should have a general idea of who the best teams are (P.S. Duke and North Carolina are your safest bets.)
- If you don’t know much, picking top-three seeded teams is generally safe too (ducks.)
- Working your way backwards from the Final Four is easier because despite the chaos of the first few rounds, we usually see who we expect to be in the semifinals advancing.
- If you’re looking for upsets, the 5-12 and 8-9 matchups are a good place to start
- In the last 19 tournaments, at least one 12 seed beat a five seed, and 12 seeds are 47-89 overall in these matchups (the best record of a lower seeded matchup)
- 8s and 9s are generally considered evenly matched so taking a nine seed is usually a popular choice
- Don’t pick a Cinderella to advance past the Sweet 16
- We all love the underdog, but a bottom half seeded team has never won the tournament, and the lowest seed to ever make a Final Four was an 11 seed.
- If you feel good about a team like UC Irvine because they’re close by, don’t expect them to win more than one or two games (if any)
- Pick Duke to win it all
- Duke is the undisputed favorite to win the national championship. They have the most talented group of players that Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever lead into March.
- The last time they entered the madness as the first overall seed, they coasted to the school’s fifth national championship in 2015
- With three supremely talented freshman that will most likely go one-two-three in the NBA’s upcoming draft, Duke is poised to demolish the field in the early rounds, and they’ve already proven they can focus in against actual adversity
There is no perfect formula for this kind of thing. You’d have better odds of winning the PowerBall lottery than you do of getting a perfect bracket. Make as many brackets as you want, you’ll be shredding them by the first weekend, guaranteed. This is March, afterall.