March Madness Bracket

Not everyone bets on the March Madness tournament, but millions of people will fill-out a March Madness Bracket. The best online sportsbooks, magazines and websites always run March Madness bracket contests with millions in prize money. Whether you want to try and beat the world this year or simply beat your group of friends we recommend reading through our March Madness bracket guide. We’re going to help you set-up your March Madness brackets by giving you some helpful tips to keep in mind.

March Madness Brackets Strategy

After the four 1st round play-in games are complete there are 64 teams left in the March Madness tournament. The 64 teams are all broken down into four divisions with each team being seeded from 1 – 16 in their division. We’re going to assume you know how to set-up a March Madness bracket already and get straight into the March Madness bracket strategy. The statistics below are from years 1985 – 2011 and will help you narrow down your possible brackets instantly.

March Madness Brackets – 1st Round

  • Seed #1 is 108-0 vs. Seed #16 / Seed #2 is 104-4 vs. Seed #15

Based on these two trends we can automatically fill-in the #1 and #2 seeds advancing to the 2nd round of the tournament. The #2 seed had lost 4 times in the 1st round against the #15 seed since 1985, but trying to pick an upset here isn’t a smart idea.

  • Seed #3 is 92-16 vs. Seed #14 / Seed #4 is 85-23 vs. Seed #13

A bit of handicapping is needed for these seeds although the favourite does move on very often. Unless you have a good reason to move a Cinderella team into the 2nd round you should stick with the #3 and #4 seeds only.

  • Seed #5 is 72-36 vs. Seed #12 / Seed #6 is 72-36 vs. Seed #11

You start getting more upsets once you get to these seeds in the 1st round. As you can see, since 1985 the 5th and 6th seeds have won 67% of the time in the 1st round. Here is a good time to mix in a couple upsets that you feel strongly about.

  • Seed #7 is 65-43 vs. Seed #10 / Seed #8 is 51-57 vs. Seed #9

With these seeds you can go either way and it will come down to handicapping the games once the seeds are finalized. The 8th seed has actually lost more times against the 9th seed since 1985, so make sure you do your homework with these seeds in the 1st round.

March Madness Brackets – 2nd Round

In the 2nd round you still want to move the top teams forward for the most part. If you want to try and find some underdog picks to put in your bracket you should look at the 10th, 11th and 12th seeds in the 2nd round. Seeds 10, 11 and 12 that move onto the 2nd round have won their 2nd round game 41% of the time (57-81). This is a decent number because these seeds are almost always playing a top 5 seed in the 2nd round.

1st seeds have gone 94-14 in the 2nd round of the March Madness tournament since 1985 and #2 seeds have gone 70-34 in the 2nd round, which isn’t that great. Upsets are more common in the 2nd round of the March Madness tournament than any other round of the tournament, so make sure your bracket isn’t full of favourites or else you may be in trouble later on.

March Madness Brackets – Sweet Sixteen

You need to start finalizing your bracket now and should have a good idea of who you want moving on. When choosing what teams will move onto the Elite Eight you should consider the seeds of the teams left on your bracket. Typically 66% of #1 seeds make it to the Elite Eight round, so you should have 2-3 #1 seeds advancing to the next round. Upsets are also rarer in this round and it may be time to eliminate the Cinderella teams from your bracket and focus on the #1, #2 and #3 seeds.

March Madness Brackets – Finishing Your Bracket

The final rounds should be easy to fill-out, as you already should know who you want advancing. Now that you’re down to only the final eight teams it’s important to handicap the potential match-ups. If you have the #1 seed playing the #2 seed you should look at both of those teams’ common opponents to see who should have the edge if the game was played.

When you add up the seeds of your final four picks the total should be around 10-12 or else you’re most likely not going to compete in your bracket contest. Your final four picks should also consist predominately of teams from the “Power Six” conferences (Big 10, Big East, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac 12. In the past 15 years roughly teams from the Power Six conferences have made up 90%-95% of the final four teams, so if you have more than 1 non Power Six team in your Final Four you may want to reconsider.

As you can see, it isn’t that difficult setting up your March Madness bracket once you have the stats. You’ll need to do some handicapping and go with your gut feeling on some games, but you can limit the amount of work you need to do by following the trends above when filling your March Madness bracket out. Each year there are always upsets that are unpredictable, which is what makes setting up your bracket so much fun.

When 2012 March Madness bracket contests start getting released we’ll update this guide with the best contests to sign-up for including the best free March Madness bracket contests. We’ll also be setting up our own bracket here at Tips&Picks for 2012 and we’ll have a printable bracket guide set-up shortly for everyone.