Tips to Filling out a March Madness Bracket

March is the beginning of spring for most of the United States. It also signifies the most exciting part of the college basketball season. The NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament takes place during this month, and it is colloquially referred to as March Madness. Let’s take a look at how you can fill out your bracket and be smarter than your friends.

Don’t Take the 16 Seeds

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first 16 seed to win an NCAA basketball tournament game when it upset Virginia 76-56 in 2018. However, they were a combined 0-132 entering this year’s tournament, and they are still 1-135 overall. These games generally feature teams that have legitimate title hopes going up against teams that made it because they won their conference tournament. 

Past Performance Is Not an Indicator of Current Success

Perhaps the bigger point about the 16 seed finally winning a tournament game is that no two tournaments are the same. Therefore, you can’t pick a team to go far simply because it did so last year. Conversely, you shouldn’t pick against a team because it did poorly last year. For example, Syracuse went to the Final Four in 2016 while it missed the tournament altogether last year. In 2018, it will meet Duke in the Sweet 16 despite being the last team picked for this year’s tournament.

How Should You Pick Teams?

Picking teams to win tournament games is part art and part science. Generally speaking, you want to choose teamsthat have either won their conference tournament or that have won more games than they have lost over their past 10 outings. Teams generally don’t play games against conference opponents in the first two rounds, which means that a squad that plays a 2-3 zone may be able to catch a superior opponent flat-footed. It may also mean that a team that likes a slow pace may frustrate a team that comes from a conference that is built to win games by scoring a lot of points.

Make Sure That Your Bracket Is Filled Out on Time

Going to sites such as can make it easy to get a bracket to fill out. Usually, you have until the first main bracket games tip-off on Thursday afternoon to get your bracket in if you are participating in an office pool or competing against your friends. 

The field is selected on the second Sunday in March, and play begins the Thursday of that week. Therefore, you have roughly three days to get your picks in. While there are games on Tuesday and Wednesday night, most office pools or other bracket games don’t make you pick those winners. 

If you are going to participate in a March Madness pool, be sure to have fun and not risk more money than you can afford to lose. This is because upsets happen every year, so your picks are just as likely to be wrong as they are to be right.

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