With March Madness just around the corner, its time to review NCAA tournament bracket strategy before filling out your bracket. After 30 years of filling out brackets, I won my first March Madness bracket pool in 2016, making me a bracket guru, an NCAA college basketball expert! OK, maybe not. Since most NCAA bracket pools I’ve been in probably average around 30 people, I guess I was due to finally win one.
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The Number One NCAA Bracket Strategy
Get lucky! Sorry, but this is, after all, the number one factor in winning an NCAA tournament bracket. However, as the old adage goes, you make your own luck. Well, I really don’t like that adage because its only partially true. Just look at the luck of Tom Brady (yea, I couldn’t resist yet another dig at the Patriot QB, I just didn’t want to let down my blog fans). Nevertheless, knowing something about the college basketball teams in the NCAA tournament does matter, and obviously increases your odds of winning. But what if you don’t follow college basketball that much? Most bracketeers don’t. Truth be told, I fall into this camp and am no college basketball expert. I watch a few regular season games here and there, but living in Colorado for most my life, I was obviously never exposed to a college basketball culture. Only recently have the Colorado Buffaloes program shown promise of consistent NCAA bracket qualifying. So my tips below will hopefully help you fare better than, at the very least, those pretty uniform pickers and last second dart-throwers.
Don’t Root for the Home Team
This rule applies not just to NCAA tournament bracket pools, but also NFL pickem pools, confidence pools, suicide (survivor pools) etc. Don’t pick your favorite team! If you do, they better be darn good and a logical choice! I won two NCAA college confidence pickem pools over the last three years because many in the league had a propensity to pick their alma mater, a local team, or some other favorite. They would then put too many confidence points on them. I simply picked the favorite, with an occasional gut feel to take an underdog here and there. I weighted them based on the point spreads, not my love of a team, the colors of their socks, or hairs on the back of my neck.
Don’t Look at the Seeding, Look at the Vegas Odds
Many NCAA bracket players assume a higher seed means a better team. This is generally not true. So, when filling out your NCAA tournament bracket, have another browser window open and check the Vegas odds for each game you are picking. This of course won’t work after the first round since you will have already submitted your picks. But what you can do is check the Vegas odds for teams winning their respective regions. Use this knowledge to weigh which teams you have making it to the NCAA Final Four.
Listen to the Real Experts
I do feel like something helped me win in 2016 like no other season. I usually do a little research, but last year it was listening to those on the radio and TV who actually are NCAA college basketball experts. There was a fare number who said “Villanova!”, including Mike Evans of 104.3 the FAN in Denver. Comments like “watch out, this team is hot and has the talent to win it all”. I heard some similar feedback for other teams, most notably the North Carolina Tar Heels, a team on the top of many NCAA tournament brackets. I also noticed Vegas liked the afore-mentioned teams, so my final two were Villanova and North Carolina. Having these teams actually make the final two assured me of 1st or 2nd place in the NCAA bracket where I work. One magical Villanova finish later and I won my first NCAA bracket tournament!
Now that you are armed with this flawless NCAA tournament bracket strategy, good luck winning your 2017 March Madness Bracket pool!
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