Saturday, January 29

2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket Advice: Four Best Strategy Tips for Winning March Madness Groups

During March Madness, one thing is for sure. You’re going to hear a lot of really bad strategy advice and tips for making NCAA tournament bracket picks. Some will even come from the most respected names in the college basketball world.

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate signal from noise when it comes to support strategy. Still, the difference is worth knowing. Much of the conventional wisdom about group selection is simply wrong, and following it will torpedo your chances of winning your March Madness group.

After analyzing public selection trends in past NCAA tournaments and running millions of group group computer simulations, we know what the data says about the group group’s winning strategy. Here are four things you need to do to get an edge in your March Madness bracket contest this year.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from, a site that has provided expert advice on group selection since 2004. Since 2017, its subscribers have reported more than $ 1.7 million in group prize earnings. groups using their NCAA support picks.


NCAA Tournament Draw Tips: Top Strategy Tips for Winning March Madness Groups

Consider how your opponents are likely to choose

In group groups, there is no prize for hitting a certain number of selections. You are competing against other people and the only way to win is to finish with a higher score than all your opponents. You can only get a higher score if you correctly choose to have your opponents go wrong. (Of course, it helps if that selection is worth a lot of points.)

This dynamic has great implications for your media selection strategy because it means that the choices your opponents make have a great influence on your chances of winning your group. If you just pick the same teams that everyone else is picking, you won’t have a great chance of winning. Consequently, you should never complete your parenthesis without taking into account your best guesses of what your opponents are likely to do.

For example, if you are in a group of NCAA groups full of Michigan graduates, you should assume that Michigan will be a very popular pick in your group and think about how you can build a smart group that does not include Michigan as a critical pick. .

Thinking more broadly, you should also refer to the national bracket selection trend data published by major bracket contest sites like ESPN and Yahoo to get a general understanding of the teams that the public is highly focused on. (To obtain a balanced image, consolidate bracketing trend data from multiple sites.)

Ideally, you are looking to identify teams that have a solid shot at winning the tournament, or at least making a deep run, that are also being underrated by the public. To do this, you will need an objective and reliable source of tournament predictions, such as betting odds or our algorithmic projections, that you can compare to public selection trends.

For example, if a team has an 18 percent chance of winning the tournament, but only 10 percent of the public chooses it to do so, you have come across an unpopular team that deserves your consideration.

Still, there are limits to this logic. Should you avoid picking all the overrated outfits? No. Very popular teams tend to be popular for a good reason: because they are strong teams. And having a lot of strong teams losing early in their group is often too risky a strategy. However, in many groups, making an educated gamble on one or two underrated (but solid) teams for a deeper run than most people believe can significantly help their cause.


Don’t pick too many alterations on your stand

Picking up too many dislikes is the poison that condemns many parentheses. We know, it’s March Madness, and we all fondly remember Cinderella’s past stories. Everyone dreams of picking the next Loyola-Chicago, who captured the nation’s attention by making an unlikely run to the Final Four as the No. 11 seed in 2018.

However, the hindsight is 20/20. It’s one thing to notice that a risky team (say, a No. 5 seed or worse) makes the Final Four quite often; Correctly predicting a specific team of risky chances to reach the Final Four in a given year is an entirely different beast. Your chances of doing so are not good and the stakes are high. If a relatively popular selection makes it to the Final Four instead of the more remote selection, you will yield a lot of points to many of your opponents.

In fact, one of the main reasons our algorithmic picks consistently outperform the crowd is because many key pool players take too much risk with their picks in earlier rounds. When hitting the picks in the later round is worth far more points in most group pool scoring systems, having a highly seeded team lose early can significantly lower the expected score.

However, don’t just take our word for it. In 2009, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a study on NCAA tournament predictions. The professors who studied the crowd’s picks came to a similar conclusion, specifically that simply picking the top-ranked team in each matchup would have surpassed the national average score on ESPN.

Fortunately, there are more effective selection strategies than simply picking the most seeded team, but you get the point. There is a lot of evidence to refute the narrative that you need to pick a bunch of surprises and correct them to do well in your NCAA group.

That said, there are a few exceptions, like if your group awards bonus points for hitting the pesky picks. Which brings us to the next tip …


Adjust your selection strategy for the size of your pool

The advice not to make too many annoying selections applies to most group groups. This is an especially smart strategy for groups that use the most common scoring format (1-2-4-8-16-32 points per correct selection, per round) and have no more than 100 innings.

However, if you are in a much larger NCAA group, or one that uses a non-traditional scoring system, such as pesky pick bonuses, the optimal pick strategy is likely to change. In terms of group size, the larger your group, the more risk you will have to take with your selections to maximize your chances of winning. Let’s examine why.

In a small group (say 20 innings or less), there may only be a few other groups with the same championship selection as you. As a result, if you get your championship pick correct and have followed a smart (i.e. more conservative) pick strategy in the early rounds, you have a great chance of winning the group. There is little chance that one of your opponents will get the correct choice of champion. Y outperform yourself in previous rounds.

However, when you compete against 500, 1000 or 10,000 people, that is no longer the case. In large groups, the odds are much higher that one or a few innings will catch the NCAA champion pick. Y some crazy and annoying picks in previous rounds (like a seventh seed to the Final Four because he was his alma mater), just by sheer luck. In the worst case, if a popular champion selection wins the tournament, it will be extremely difficult to beat each of the hundreds of entries in a large group that chose them.

As a result, increasing your odds of winning a large group often requires taking some major risks, such as picking a very unpopular 4-seeded to win the entire tournament. The chances of that happening are also low, but at the end of the day, our data-driven bracket research has shown that it is often a smarter bet than picking a more popular champion. If your unpopular team wins, even in a large group, there are likely only a few people in a position to win the group along with you.


Adjust your selection strategy to your group’s scoring system

The most common group group scoring system awards 1-2-4-8-16-32 points per round. However, there are many variations and non-standard scoring systems may require a very different selection strategy.

For example, if you are in a group that awards points based on the difference in the number of seeds between the winning team and the losing team, you will get eight points for choosing one of the 12 seeds to beat one of the 5 seeded in the first round compared to the score. only one point for choosing the fifth favorite to win. It turns out that most of the 12 seeds are likely to win much more than 12.5 percent (one divided by eight) and are therefore good values ​​to choose from in this scoring system from a points perspective. expected won.

We even see some groups where the score is based on the round number multiplied by the seed number. In that type of group, correctly choosing a 10 seed to make the Sweet 16 yields a whopping 30 points, while correctly choosing a 1 seed to win the national title gives you only 21 points in comparison. In that system, collecting a lot of double-digit seeds to make Sweet 16 is a very smart risk. Even if only a couple of them end up doing it, you will still earn a ton of points.

This is why it is so important to take the time to understand the implications of your pool rules. While most players detect too many surprises in the standard support pool scoring system, they often do not detect enough surprises in the hassle bonus systems. Year after year, we see optimal brackets for standard scoring systems being chastised by the public for being too conservative, while optimal brackets for pesky bonus systems are ridiculed for looking too crazy.

Winning an NCAA key group isn’t easy, but if you keep these four strategic tips in mind, you’ll avoid some of the common mistakes that uninformed key-selectors fall prey to. As we like to say, the smarter your strategy, the less luck you’ll need to win.

Finally, if you are interested in outsourcing all of this strategy formulation and number processing to the professionals and only get the support that gives you the best chance of winning your group, be sure to check out our Product 2021 NCAA Bracket Picks.


In 2019, 71 percent of TeamRankings subscribers reported winning an award in their group of NCAA groups.

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