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March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events in America, with millions of people filling out brackets each year. 68 college basketball teams square off in a single-elimination style tournament, typically beginning in mid-March and concluding in early April.
Picking a successful bracket is no easy task, but RYP has tips to consider when filling out your March Madness brackets. You won’t get every game correct, as it’s impossible to fill out a 100% correct bracket. However, there are strategies to use so that you win your March Madness pool.
Top 5 Tips For Filling Out Your March Madness Brackets
Below are the top five tips for filling out your March Madness bracket
Don’t Stress About Early Round Upsets
Upsets occur in sports, it happens. Underdogs win all the time, which makes betting on games so difficult. In March Madness, underdogs will hit but it’s not as many times as you would think.
Also note that it’s very rare underdogs go far in the tournament, which is where the heavy points are earned in March Madness pools.
So don’t go crazy on first-round upsets, as most every year the favorites come out on top. Yes, there are a few upsets scattered throughout, but you earn the most points in the deeper rounds.
So if you have a first-round underdog advancing try not to have them go too far in the bracket. More times than not, the better teams will prevail and that should be the thinking process when filling out a March Madness bracket.
Pay Attention to Conference Tournaments
Conference tournaments can fill the hopes or break the hearts of bubble teams. Some schools that had no chance of making March Madness suddenly get hot at the right time, and win their conference tournament to reach the big dance.
Should you back these teams? It depends. Teams like Georgetown, Oregon State, and Richmond have recently stolen March Madness bids by winning conference tournaments while also making noise in the brackets.
It’s important to have a big view picture of which conference tournament champion teams have momentum entering.
With that said, teams that only make March Madness through conference tournaments don’t typically win the whole event. However, they sometimes make noise and cause chaos in the first three or four rounds.
Circle these teams and pay attention to conference tournaments for schools with lots of momentum entering March Madness. Most of the time, this is where you’ll find your double-digit seed upsets.
Efficiency Ratings Are Real
There are lots of stats to consider when filling out a March Madness pool, but none more important than efficiency ratings. Teams with the best offense and defense efficiency ratio tend to go the furthest in March Madness.
Well, what does that mean? Throughout the season teams are given efficiency ratings on both offense and defense. Using Houston as an example, they have an offensive efficiency rating of 117 (ranks third nationally) and a defensive efficiency rating of 78.9 (ranks second nationally).
With those ratings, Houston ranks top three nationally on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court. It’s important to record all 68 schools’ efficiency ratings before calculating which teams have the best ratio.
Schools like Abilene Christian might have one of the best efficiency ratios in the nation. Although no one recommends Abilene Christian winning March Madness, they could be ripe for a potential upset alert as they did against Texas a few years ago.
Location Is Important
For a 68-school tournament, there is going to be a lot of traveling. Some schools will have to travel further than others, so it’s important to find out which teams in the tournament succeed or fail on the road.
It’s also worth noting that every game in March Madness is a neutral site game, so it’s equally as important to find out which schools thrive in a neutral court setting.
Most of these answers can be found in the November schedule of the season when many neutral court tournaments were being played (around Thanksgiving).
Also use conference tournaments as a reference, as most are played on neutral courts. Smaller conferences, such as the Atlantic Sun, don’t play their conference tournaments on a neutral court, however.
Pick A Winner No One Else Is Picking
This is a tough selling point, but it could very well win you your March Madness bracket or pool. Think of it this way, if you pick a winner that everyone else is picking, then by the time the championship game rolls around you will already know who wins the pool.
As an example, if you and the top three people in your pool all have Gonzaga winning then there’s no way for you to separate yourself from the pack and win.
If the top three people have Gonzaga but you have UNC, then suddenly you give yourself a chance to win should UNC and Gonzaga be the two schools that advance the furthest.
Be sure to pick a winner that has a great chance of winning the event, but no one else is picking.
A great example is Virginia after losing in the first round as the No. 1 seed to UMBC. No one wanted to pick Virginia the following year, despite having another No. 1 seed and being the most efficient team in the country. They ended up winning.
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