It’s called March Madness for a reason.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament always brings with it a roller-coaster of emotions — not only for the players on the court, but for bettors putting money down on eams to go all the way.
While casual college fans may spend 10 minutes or so jotting down their picks, serious bettors will allocate days and sometimes even weeks to put in the proper research prior to the opening tipoff of March Madness.
Of course there are things that can’t be controlled, including a No. 11 or 12 seed who takes out one of the most highly ranked schools. That was the case in 2016 when Yale shocked the college basketball world by eliminating NCAA men’s tournament regulars and fifth-seeded Baylor in the first round. Then there were newcomers Little Rock — also a 12th seed — who knocked out fifth-ranked Purdue in the opening round.
Before you fill out a March Madness bracket, there are three simple rules to keep in mind.
First, stay away from the thought of thinking any 16th seed will upset a top-ranked school, regardless of the region.
In the 78-year history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, never has a 16th seed knocked out a No. 1 seed. In fact, only six percent of No. 15 seeds have knocked out a second-ranked program. Just know if you’re considering such a wager, the odds are heavily stacked against you.
Instead, low-to-mid-seeded schools are usually the right bets, especially if they’re entering the tournament on a hot streak. In 2014, we witnessed the seventh-ranked UConn Huskies defeat the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the championship. In 2015, Michigan State reached the Final Four before falling to eventual champion Duke Blue Devils.
Secondly, don’t bet on the defending March Madness champions, as only three times in the history of the tournament has a team won back-to-back crowns. UCLA won the tournament seven straight times in the late 60s and early 70s, while Duke and Florida are the only other schools to win back-to-back titles.
Finally, don’t break your bank account when betting on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s all about being less wrong than everyone else when filling out your bracket. Entering multiple brackets won’t increase your chances and will only add confusion when making your selections. If you’re in a league that includes 100 entries overall, a $10 bet would pay out $1,000 if your bracket comes out on top. Not bad for a tenner.
Don’t bank on predicting a perfect bracket. It just doesn’t happen. Some believe putting together a unblemished NCAA Tournament bracket is actually 1 in 9.2 quintillion.
You have a better shot at winning the lottery.