NCAA March Madness Bracket Strategies - Advice, Tips, Office Pools

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NCAA March Madness Bracket Strategies

Filling Out a March Madness BracketEvery year, over 100 million people fill out an NCAA March Madness Bracket and wager an estimated $3 billion playing online or in March Madness office pools. Even people that don’t watch a single NCAA college basketball game will take part in the "madness" that is filling out a bracket.

With most March Madness pools, people usually take less than 10 minutes to fill out a bracket and just toss their money in the pot without doing research or seeking advice from those who watch the games and study the sport. Often, poolies trust the tips and advice on the "preview show" on CBS or other sports outlets the weekend before the games start without much thought or reason. This is not the way to need a game plan.

Below, we list our proven NCAA March Madness bracket strategies as well as some important March Madness stats to help you fill out your winning bracket. These March Madness bracket tips have made us solid money over the past several years.

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Here is the best March Madness advice you will get before you fill out your bracket:

Let the Past show you the future

There is a reason why the top seeded teams in the tournament are the top-seeded teams…they are better than the others! Here are some facts: in 108 tries since 1985, no 16th seed has ever beaten a #1 seed. The 15th seed has only ever beaten the #2 seed six times in 108 attempts. We all love a big upset, but in reality, it rarely ever happens. Our March Madness bracket advice is to make sure you choose the #1 and #2 seeds to move past the 1st round.

There will be a Cinderella team...But who?

Every year a "few" lower seeded teams knock off a higher seed, the problem is...trying to pick these is like picking a needle in a haystack. If you are going to pick an upset, look at the 12th seed knocking off a #5 seed. Since 1985 the 12th seed has won 34.5% of the total games, and in 2012 there were 2 of these upsets. A 12 beating a 5 has become almost a given every year in the March Madness tournament. Make sure that the #12 seed you do pick though is hot going into the tourney.

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The clock eventually strikes midnight

Cinderella only stays in the tournament for so long. The lowest seed to ever reach a Final Four was an 11th seed. Just because you pick an underdog for the 1st round upset doesn’t make them a team of destiny. Our advice: make sure your Final Four doesn't include any #12, #13, #14, #15 or #16 seeds - it just won't happen.

Pay attention to Injuries or Suspensions

On occasion a player will get suspended for academic or other violations just as the NCAA tournament is about to start. If the player is an important piece, their team may be ripe for a 1st round knockout. Injuries can derail a March Madness bracket as well, so the best advice is to check out injury reports before filling out your bracket.

Know the Scoring system

Most NCAA March Madness Bracket pools have different scoring systems - some just give you points for wins, some give bonuses in later rounds and some give points based on the seeding of winning teams. Ultimately, if you can pick all the winners, the point system won’t matter. But knowing the scoring system is a strategy that may help you make some tough decisions easier when filling out your March Madness bracket.

The Odds Makers know Everything

Did you know that just because a team is a higher seed doesn’t mean they are favored to win. If a 10th seed is playing a 7th seed, but the sportsbooks have the 10th seed favored in the point spread, it may be a sign that the #10 seed is actually the better team at the moment. Cross-reference the odds from the sportsbooks against the matchups and check if there are any anomalies. This is a very, very important March Madness tip.

Don’t make the Classic Rookie Mistake

Many first timers filling out a bracket will simply pick all the high seeds to beat the low ones and will end up with all four #1 seeds in the Final Four. Only once since 1985 have all four #1 seeded teams made it to the Final Four, so the odds are that it won’t happen this year either. Look for some of the #2 or #3 seeds to make the Final Four with maybe one or two of the #1 seeds. Usually there is not a big difference between the top 3 seeds in a region in terms of talent and skill.


Remember, when you fill out a bracket for March Madness it can be a lot of fun, but you need to use some bracket strategies to get the job done. If you follow our advice and use our tips, the odds of you winning your March Madness office pool will go up dramatically!

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