2019 March Madness Brackets Advice and Tips
When you are filling out your bracket heading into the NCAA Tournament every year, you ultimately want to do one thing - win your pool. Whether you are motivated by cash, bragging rights, or both, you certainly dream of winning if you bother to fill out a bracket. And we want to help you do just that. Here are five key March Madness bracket advice tips. Following these won't guarantee that you will win, but they will give you a much better chance than most of the mouthbreathers who throw their money away every year in brackets hoping for a miracle that isn't likely to come.
The path, the path, the path: When you set out to pick your bracket, you need to handicap teams like you would for any other game - their current form, their talent level, health, coaching, and so on. But you also need to focus closely on the path that they will have to take going forward in the tournament. A tough path can make a decent team look rough and can send them home early. An easy path can make a mediocre team look dynamite - at least until they run into a good team. If people look at the path at all, they make the mistake of just focusing on the quality of the opponents a team is likely to face. To give yourself an edge, you need to go a step further. It's not just the quality of opponents that matter but also the style of play. A team will have an easier path if they play a lot of the same type of team - especially if they match up well with that style of play - than if they are forced to change their style of play each round. There is nothing worse than playing a high-tempo team, beating them, then having to get ready for a team that takes the air out of the ball or presses relentlessly just two days later. And if a team is lined up to play a couple of big, physical teams in a row, that could seriously impact their effectiveness going forward. The more you consider these things the bigger advantage you will have over the average bracket you face.
Head has to win over heart: Sports in general, and college sports in particular, are very emotional affairs. There are teams that you love and those that you hate with all of the passion in the world. I couldn't cheer for Ohio State, Duke, Notre Dame or UCLA if they were the last teams on the planet. But I will always overestimate the chances of Michigan, and I have soft spots for Louisville and Gonzaga when they aren't playing the Wolverines. All of that is fine - your heart is the driver of the fun in college sports. But when it comes to filling out your bracket, you have to forget all of that. You have to become a ruthless bracket picking machine. If Ohio State matches up very well against Michigan, then I will pick them because I want to win - though, thankfully, that certainly isn't a concern these days. It might hurt to pick against your beloved squad, but that pain will fade in a hurry when you win your bracket. This is a case where the ends justify the means.
Go beyond your normal: I'm a Big Ten guy. I watch two or three games in that league for every one in others. And I respect the league above all others. But when you are filling out a bracket, you need to move beyond the leagues you know best or like most. You can't get stuck in ruts and let your allegiances guide you when making your picks. You want to pick the most likely winners - regardless of where they play or how much you have seen them.
Back off the upsets: Anyone who picked UMBC to beat No. 1 seed Virginia last year will have bragging rights for a lifetime. But they are also a gigantic idiot. It was the first time that a No. 16 seed had won an opening-round game, and no matter what those people will tell you there was no good reason to pick the upset there. You were making a bet on a very unlikely outcome, and if you didn't get it right - which you very likely wouldn't - then you are dooming your bracket. Just think about it beyond the upset. If you pick a No. 16 and you are right you get a single point for that upset, but you are unlikely to have picked them to keep winning, and they are unlikely to pull off a miracle twice in a row, so you only get one point - one more than all the people who picked the top seed to win. But if you pick the upset and you are wrong, not only do you fall behind everyone else who picked the game correctly - which will be almost everyone in your pool - but the top seed is also likely to win more games. You won't benefit from any of those games, and each round is typically worth more points in a pool than the one before it. So, you are taking a chance at a small return with a low likelihood of success and risking a high likelihood of a costly setback. Obviously, a No. 1 vs. No. 16 game is an extreme example, but the same logic applies in other cases. You don't have to completely avoid upsets, but save them for when they make sense, when you are confident of success, and where being right will give you a big advantage in the pool.
Turn off the hype: At this time of year everyone is an expert. Every media outlet has an opinion about the tournament and will tell you they know exactly how the bracket is going to turn out. A lot of those 'experts', though, aren't around in November or even February. They only show up when the attention turns this way and will be on to the next big thing soon enough. You need to ignore most advice, and if you want some be sure it comes from places that follow the sport and know what they are talking about.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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