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15 March Madness Bracket 2018 Expert Tips

15 March Madness Bracket 2018 Expert Tips

If you’re thinking about jumping on the March Madness bracket bandwagon, then here are a few expert tips to help you make the most of your predictions.

Before you read the tips, here is the tournament schedule:

ROUND                             SITE                     DATE(S)

Selection Sunday              N/A                       March 11

First Four                           Dayton                 March 13-14

First/Second                      Pittsburgh            March 15 & 17

First/Second                      Wichita                 March 15 & 17

First/Second                      Dallas                   March 15 & 17

First/Second                      Boise                    March 15 & 17

First/Second                      Charlotte              March 16 & 18

First/Second                      Detroit                  March 16 & 18

First/Second                      Nashville              March 16 & 18

First/Second                      San Diego            March 16 & 18

Midwest Regional             Omaha                 March 23 & 25

West Regional                   Los Angeles        March 22 & 24

South Regional                  Atlanta                 March 22 & 24

East Regional                    Boston                 March 23 & 25

Final Four                          San Antonio        March 31, April 2

March Madness Tips To Fill In Your Bracket

  1. Following your heart instead of the data

Let’s be honest folks, picking winners in a March Madness bracket is very, very hard; if not, people like Warren Buffett wouldn’t put millions of his dollars as prize money for his own March Madness contest.

So, if you’re having fairytale dreams about your favorite team winning the national championship when the data suggests otherwise, it’s time to give yourself a rude awakening.

Slap yourself in the face if you have to; because picking your favorite team to win against all rational thinking to the contrary, is a fool’s errand.

Are you a fool? We didn’t think so, act accordingly.

  1. Be a trends watcher

Though the selection committee takes into consideration much more than a team’s recent performance to invite a team to the Big Dance, you should be well aware of a team’s performance over the last month of the season.

Even top-seeded teams that have done sub-par late in the season are more likely to continue to struggle in the NCAA tournament.

If a team is slipping heading into March Madness, it’s likely they’ll keep on sliding on that slope.  

  1. Avoid picking an obvious loser

We’re sure you’ve thought it out when you picked that No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, have you?

If you didn’t, then maybe the fact that excluding the play-in games, a 15-seed has never won a game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The closest a 16-seed team has come to an upset was within two points.  If you need more to chew on, considering that in over 132 games played between No. 1 and No. 16 seeds, not once has a 16-seeded team won, not once, should give you more than enough reason to stay away from making this selection. 

  1. If you do want to pick an upset, look at a team's offense

The adage goes, “defense wins championships,” right? Not quite.

While it stands to argue a case for great defenses, a team won’t get far into the tournament without scoring points. And, that means having a great offense.

A team can head into the tournament with a great defensive ranking, but without an offense that can score major points, they won’t get far.

Conversely, teams with great offenses tend to overwhelm mid-major teams with good defensive ratings.

  1. Don’t pick a 15 or 16 seed to make the Sweet 16

Since 1985, only three teams seeded 14th or 16th have reached the Sweet 16. That’s right, three.

In fact, of teams with a 10 or higher seed, only three teams have won four games in the NCAA tournament. Not one of these teams was higher than a 12 seed.

All the luck to you if you want to go this route, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

  1. Beware of paying too much attention to conference tournaments

Conference tournaments don’t really paint an accurate picture. When teams play on 3 or 4 consecutive days, the best team might not always win.

Three past national champions in the last four years, in fact, didn’t win their conference tournaments.

All sorts of weird things have happened, as well, like 2016 Big Ten champion Michigan State going home early when they lost to a 15-seed team in the first round so don’t put too much credence to conference championship results.

  1. Don’t get cute with your picks

You may have fantasized about having the bragging right to having picked a shocker upset on your bracket, but do yourself a favor and don’t get cute with your picks.

This means not choosing Cinderella to go all the way, this is college basketball’s most prestigious tournament, not a fairytale.

There is a time and place for picking upset winners and it doesn’t involve fairy dust.

  1. Keep conference strength in mind for big leagues

If you think anything can happen in the early rounds, you’re right.

But, you might want to take a gander of what history tells us about winning a national championship, such as the fact the Big Ten hasn’t won a national championship since 2000 or that the Big 12 hasn’t won a national title since 2008.

There are quite a few lessons we can all learn from history, as the saying goes, “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

  1. Think twice about picking a No. 4 or No. 5 seed to win the national title

Only one team, Arizona in 1997, is the only No. 4 or 5 team to win a national championship but, you’re more likely to find a needle in a haystack than this happening again.

The Wildcats lost nine regular-season games; two of those losses came three days before Selection Sunday.

Anything can happen, just don’t bet on it.

  1. Pay attention to things that matter

Uncle Joe’s gut feeling doesn’t matter. Your mama’s opinion, throw it out the door. When it comes to making selections, you should only pay attention to what’s relevant such as a team’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI) which can give you information that’s actually helpful.

RPI takes into account things like a team’s schedule and the competitiveness of a conference, and it tells you how efficient teams are through the games they’ve played.

These are the types of things you should pour over while you block everything else out that won’t make a difference.

  1. Does a team have home team advantage?

The committee does its best to try to keep teams close to home for first and second round games.

Playing on their home court gives a team a distinct advantage that cannot be ignored. If you don’t believe this, then maybe the fact that of the 10 teams that traveled the furthest from their home court in the 2016 NCAA tournament, only Maryland made it out of the second round.  

It’s hard to keep discipline and focus for a team that’s on the road, especially with all the hype surrounding this competition.

  1. 12-5 – Memorize that number

More than three-quarters of upsets are by 10, 11, or 12 seeds (more than 25% by 12 seeds alone).

If you’re picking an upset, then look at 12 vs 5 matchups because they’ll give you the highest probability of panning out.

Since 1985, 12-seeds account for 27% of all upsets. Overall, 12-seeds sport a .359 winning percentage over first-round opponents which means that at least one of these teams are likely to pass through to the second round.

  1. Think thrice about only picking No. 1 seed in your Final Four

The odds are against you if you’re considering to only pick the No. 1 seeds to make it to the Final Four.

It happened in 2008 – with UCLA, UNC, Kansas, and Memphis – but that probably won’t happen again.

Since 2000, only 37.5 percent of No. 1 seeds have made up the Final Four, it’s something to think about when you’re making your selections.

  1. It’s likely Cinderella will not go to the ball

There is likely going to be some upsets in the early rounds. Take a close look at the 6 vs 11 or 5 vs 13 which is where you’ll probably find some opportunities.

But, as the tournament progresses, it may be a good idea to make conservative selections. Performance and discipline usually win out and this is when you should separate the wheat from the chaff.

Only three No. 11 seeds have reached the Final Four, and only one No. 12 seed has gone all the way to the Elite 8, so stick to teams that have proved their grit and not a Cinderella team that will probably not make it to the ball.

  1. Getting analysis paralysis

We’re all just a click away from mountains of information; every stat, result, and trend is literally at your fingertips.

But, that doesn’t mean you should drown yourself in information. While doing research is critical, it shouldn’t stop you from making a decision when the time comes to fill out your bracket.

Read the available information and then do a gut check to make a choice. Does it feel right? Then follow your instinct and get on with it.

These 15 March Madness bracket tips should help you with your selections. When you’re ready, the Sweet 16 Bracket Contest is waiting for you.  

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