Tips to bust the bracket
March 10, 2017
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With the conclusion of February, the most joyous time of year is upon us once again. The chirping birds, the melting snow, the long, warm days and emerging greenery, it can all only mean one thing: March Madness. The month-long spectacle provides non-stop heart-pounding, dream-crushing, and bracket-busting event provides the thrill of gambling without any financial consequences. Unless, of course, you’re one of those gambling types who enjoys financial consequences, because that is an option as well. Regardless of which type you are, here are some tips to avoid the embarrassment and shame of finishing dead last in a game of chance.
Step one: Don’t pick a 16 seed to beat a 1 seed. Seriously, you aren’t being clever, you aren’t outsmarting anyone. This has never happened. The 16 seed has existed as a part of the tournament for 32 years, and against 1 seeds they are a combined 0-128. So please, just take this freebie and move on to more difficult choice.
Chapter two: 8-9 games are tossups. 8 seeds hold a slight advantage all time, winning 52.9% of matchups, but overall there really isn’t any pattern to these games. Last year was one by all 9 seeds. Any one of these teams could easily win or lose, but be careful having them advance any further, as they’ll be paired against the 1 seed that you most definitely had beating their 16 seed.
Part three: 12 seeds beat 5 seeds. Not all the time, and not exponentially, but it happens at least once a season and no one really knows why. While 4 seeds win their opening round game 80.3% of the time, 5 seeds see a significant drop off, falling down to 66.9%. In the past five tournaments, that percentage drops to 50%, as the two seeds are dead even at 10-10. It is a mysterious voodoo magic surrounding 12 seeds, but they almost always seem to pull more upsets than their 11 seed counterparts, only being 2% behind them historically. So it is more than likely a safe bet to fine a nice, juicy 12 seed or two to have doing some damage this season.
Numero quarto: Use common sense. This may seem self-explanatory, but don’t just pick upsets willy-nilly. While it is fun to be right on these, and every seed except 16 seeds have won multiple games in the past decade, it isn’t a sound strategy. While you may not like a particular 2 seed, 15 seeds do only win 6.2% of games, and haven’t nabbed one since 2013. Overall, the higher seeds are usually higher for a reason.
And in last place: Have fun with it. Some people only care to participate in events they think they can win, but the great thing about March Madness is that we all end up losers! There has never been a perfect bracket, and it is extremely possible that there never will be, given that the pure statistical odds of it happening are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or 1 in 9.2 quintillion. So if you want to pick based off of mascots, or personal attachment, or whichever team your pet fish seems to favor, go right ahead. Given the nature of the beast, you’ll probably luck your way past a few serious brackets anyway.