How to pick a winning NCAA Tournament bracket.

It is the ultimate activity for bragging rights, the NCAA Tourney.  Whether you are male or female, young or old, spend hours picking your brackets or chose your teams by who would win a fight between the mascots, if so don’t pick the Eagles from ORU, anyone can fill out a bracket and have a chance to win.  In fact, a couple of years ago the winner who predicted George Mason to go to the Final Four did so because he thought they were George Washington.  So it is not rocket science.  It actually cannot be reduced down to a science, but there are some general principles that will help you win your bracket pool.  This is last year’s version, to read this year’s version click here.

1. Don’t trust Dick Vitale or Bob Knight for that matter.

2. Never, ever, ever has all four no. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four, so please don’t ever do that.

3. A 16 has never beaten a 1.  There is a reason they are a 16 seed.

4. A 15 rarely beats a 2.  Don’t pick this unless you feel lucky or went to that school.

5. A 14 or a 13 beats a 3 or a 4 seed practically ever year.  Take a shot with one of these, because if you get it right you are a genius.

6. A 12 will beat a 5, maybe 2 of them.  Pick one maybe two and feel good about your chances.

7. I hate the 6-11 game, because 6 seeds can made a deep run, they have enough talent, but they are inconsistent or else they would be a higher seed.  At least one 6 seed will made it to the Sweet Sixteen.  At least one Sweet Sixteen team will lose the opening round.  Good luck.

8. Both the 7-10 games and the 8-9 games are toss ups.  Never refer to a 9 beating an 8 an upset.  It isn’t an upset.  They are the same caliber of team.  A 10 over a 7 just barely qualifies for an upset, you cannot brag about your 10 seed beating a 7 seed as your upset special.

9. At least one 1 seed will not made it to the Elite Eight, yet all the reporters will be shocked when this happens, you should not be. 

10. At least one 2 seed will not make it to the Sweet Sixteen, yet again all the reporters will be shocked when this happens, you should not be. 

11. In looking for an upset, never pick a lower seeded team that plays the same style as a higher seeded team.  What makes us think that a  full court press fast break team with marginal athletes beat one with stellar athletes.

12. Teams that play defense tend to win more games especially upsets than teams that don’t play defense.  It’s pretty simple but we forget about this.

13. Guard play wins in the tourney.  It is not that post players are not important, just that guards are more important.  Even Florida and Ohio St. last year had great post players, they also had great college guards.

14. If you pick a team to go to the Final Four, they need to have at least one player who will go to the NBA.

15. At least 3 of the Final Four teams will be top 3 seeds in their regions, and a top 3 seed will win the National Championship.

16. Find yourself a Cinderella and dance with her to the Sweet 16, take a 10 seed or a 12 seed to win their first 2 games, it makes the tourney more fun.

17. Balance your head and your heart in choosing winners.  Just because you are a Jerry Rice fan, doesn’t mean that Miss. Valley State is going to beat UCLA.  But you know more about the teams you watch, use that knowledge, and you will also enjoy watching the game more if you pick your favorite team to win.

18. Pick a whole bracket on what you hope to have happen that way if everything works out, you can brag about your great bracket.

19. Don’t let your bracket ruin March Madness for you.  If your bracket is busted, get over it.  It doesn’t mean you are dumb, it means that March Madness is well, madness.

I hope this helps as you choose your bracket.  I will post my bracket later in the week, and with that I will post the many ways to stay connected to the tourney when you are not in front of your TV.   Here is my bracket to see these guidelines in practice.  If you would like a unique approach to choosing a bracket check out my wife’s bracket and her scientific theories to picking the winners.



Filed under Sports

10 responses to “How to pick a winning NCAA Tournament bracket.

  1. Shannon

    Pick West Virginia to go to the Sweet 16. In its three previous tournament appearances, WVU went to the Sweet 16 in 1998 losing to Utah, advanced to the Elite 8 in 2005 losing to Louisville, and the Sweet 16 in 2006 losing to Texas. Also, WVU is the defending NIT champs and many of those guys are on this team.

    If Clemson can beat Duke … come on!

  2. aarontiger

    Shannon provides a good example of rule #16 balancing head and heart. He believes in his Mountaineers, but if they lose in the first round, his bracket is not busted, and he doesn’t have to root for Duke against his beloved WVU. He even provides his rationalization, of the NIT champs, a stretch, but an acceptable fan stretch.

  3. “Just because you are a Jerry Rice fan, doesn’t mean that Miss. Valley State is going to beat UCLA.”

    Speakest thou from harsh experience, O mortal?

  4. LaurieD2004

    I actually found a website that helps people fill out their brackets based on categories, one of which being the fierceness of mascots. Luckily, you can turn that category off and use categories like offense vs. defense or star power vs. deep bench. It might help those who struggle with “heart vs. brain” decision (like me!). The link is

  5. Pingback: Keeping Updated with March Madness « Being the Way I was Made

  6. heathertiger15

    Letting your Riley out huh?!

  7. Pingback: My NCAA Tourney Bracket « Being the Way I was Made

  8. Pingback: Straight From the Heart: Picking My NCAA Tournament Bracket « Thorn in My Heart

  9. Consider working your brackets backwards. That is what i do. But thanks for these amazing tips i will definitely keep them in mind this year when im filling out my brackets!


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