The following tips on how to fill out your NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket come from the betting expert, RJ Bell of Pregame.com. According to him, if you follow these historic trends, you will have an advantage to winning your friendly office pool. In addition, a printable Tournament Bracket is available at SB Nation.
2012 NCAA Tournament Action:
Over $12 Billion expected to be wagered (more combined than the Super Bowl!)
$3 Billion of the total estimated on Tournament brackets (over 100 million participants)
Bracket Picking Rules & Tips from Vegas!
(all records since modern era began in 1985 unless noted)
FIRST ROUND picks:
TIP: Pick ZERO #1 or #2 seeds to lose.
#16 seeds are 0 for 108
#15 seeds are 4 for 108
TIP: Pick at least ONE #13 or #14 seed to win.
At least one Top 4 seed has lost in the first round 23 of 27 years
#13 and #14 seeds combined win 18% of first round games
TIP: Don't be shy picking upsets with #12 through #9 seeds.
#12 seeds have won at least one game 21 of 23 years
#9 seeds are 6 wins above .500 vs. #8 seeds
(Click on the 'Jump' to see more tips from the 2nd round and beyond)
SECOND ROUND picks:
TIP: Advance #1 seeds into the 3rd round unless very good reason not to.
88% of #1 seeds advance to the Sweet 16
TIP: Keep advancing any #12 and #10 seeds you picked to win in Round One.
#10 and #12 seeds combined win about half the time in Round Two
#12 seeds have more Sweet 16 appearances overall than #7 seeds
A double digit seed has made the Sweet Sixteen 25 of 27 years
TIP: Pick at least ONE upset of a #2 or #3 seed.
Only once in 27 years has all the top three seeds (#1, #2, #3) made the Sweet Sixteen
TIP: Do NOT pick any seed worse than #12 to win in the 2nd round.
Only 6 of 432 teams (1.4%) advancing past Round 2 were seeded worse than #12
Sweet 16 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly three #1 seeds into the Elite 8.
72% of #1 seeds make the Elite 8
(that's a higher percentage than #5 seeds that win a single game!)
TIP: Advance no team worse than a #11 seed into the Elite 8
25 have made it the Sweet 16, but only 1 has ever advanced
Elite 8 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four.
The Final Four has included exactly one or two #1 seeds 21 of 27 years
TIP: Advance no team worse than a #8 seed to the Final Four.
Only 3 of 108 Final Four teams have been seeded worse than #8
FINAL FOUR round picks:
TIP: Advance NO team worse than a #6 seed to the Championship game.
Only ONE team worse than #6 has made it in last 26 years
TIP: Do NOT advance TWO #1 seeds to Championship game
Only 6 times since 1979 has two #1 seeds made the finals
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME pick:
TIP: Pick a #4 seed or better to win it all.
For 23 straight years the champion has been a #4 seed or better!
Perfect Bracket Odds:
There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets.
That's the number nine follow by eighteen zeros.
That's over 9.2 quintillion.
Some examples of just how big this number is:
If everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over ONE BILLION to 1 against any person having a perfect bracket.
If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 TRILLION years to fill out all possible brackets (that's 20 times longer than the universe has existed).
If all the people on earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take over 43 years to fill out every possible bracket.
If all possible brackets were stacked on top of each other (on standard paper), the pile would reach from the moon and back over 1.1 million times.
All possible brackets (on standard paper) would weigh 90,000 times more than every man, women, and child on earth combined.
Even if a person had a 90% chance of winning each game he picked, his odds would still be 763 to 1 against picking a perfect bracket.
68 vs. 64 teams:
The calculations above assume a 64 team bracket – if expanded to consider 68 teams, multiple the figures by 16.