Tips for Filling Out March Madness Brackets 2019
I don't know about you, but to me it feels like just yesterday that we were watching Villanova showcase their dominance over Michigan to capture their third NCAA Title in school history and second in three years. They were led by "The Big Ragu" Donte DiVincenzo, who poured in a season-high 31 points and got solid contributions from Mikal Bridges with 19. As a neutral fan and as a fan of basketball, that game was a lot more interesting than the final score indicated. There were runs by both teams, and there were moments where Michigan looked to be the better team. However, as always, the cream rises to the top in collegiate sports.
However, penciling in all No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four is a sure way to have your bracket busted before the tournament even begins. Only one time in NCAA Tournament history has all four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four (2008).
Knowing that tidbit alone will save you from having the chalkiest of brackets and the biggest laughing stock the office has seen. We know how frustrating it can be to hear about Gladys in HR who has a near perfect bracket because she picked teams based on the better location or color of their jersey. Luck plays a major role in any type of gambling, but it can only take you so far. That's when research and knowledge come into play.
We've been filling out brackets for a long time, and there has yet to be an absolute proven method when it comes to having a winning bracket. I'm not here to tell you I have the solution we've all been waiting for. I'm here to help you take into account four things that make these tournament teams worthy of picking or staying far, far away from.
Let's take a look some of the factors you should consider while filling out your bracket.
Please do not pick a No.16 seed to upset a No.1 seed. Just don't do it. In the tournament's existence, the No.16 seed is 1-135. We all know about the massive upset that sent shockwaves through the sporting world as UMBC knocked off No.1 Virginia and the game wasn't even close. I'm telling you right now - that game was a one-off and will not happen again for a very long time. Virginia simply came out flat and could not catch up. Depending on your expectations for your bracket, capturing four free points should be a no-brainer.
If you are dead set on finding that upset, or "Cinderella" team, you have a few different options. In last year's tournament, at least one 9, 10, 11, and 13 seed won a first-round game. I'm not saying to pick every one of those higher seeds, but there will be a few games that end in an upset.
In 2016, only one out of the four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four. To take it one step further, over the last 16 years, top seeds in the tournament have earned 29 Final Four berths. The No. 2 seeds have made 15 Final Four appearances during that span, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds have made nine and six Final Four appearances, respectively. Only once has there been a tournament that featured all four No.1 seeds in the Final Four (2008).
However, stats and trends can only take you so far. At some point, you will have to look for the next x-factor, and in my opinion, the next factor is Home/Road records.
While we get lost in the game itself and the gambling aspect, what we must remember is that these are kids we are dealing with. College teams are Jekyll-and-Hyde while playing on the road or in the friendly confines of their home gym. You should definitely consider a team's away record before confidently backing them to move on in your bracket.
Good teams fare well on the road and have what it takes (experience, leadership, scoring) to get the job done in hostile territory. The mid-tier teams tend to buckle under the pressure. I know that most of these games are considered "neutral" for most teams, but the fact remains that they must travel, and the travel not only effects the team but the supporting fans as well. The further away a game is from home, the less fan support a team may get.
Unless you are Kentucky. Kentucky fans are literally everywhere.
Strength of Schedule
This one is a tough one to explain because there isn't any parity in terms of scheduling out of conference games. Accumulating a great record during the regular season is fine and dandy, but doing so while beating cupcake teams is misleading and can hurt the team.
Look at whom a team has beaten and how their opponent was playing prior to that game. A win is only worth one win in the standings. However, on paper, some wins are more impressive than others. Be sure to understand if a team has played up to the level of their competition and actually competed well with them or if they played a very weak nonconference schedule that they sleepwalked through to a near flawless record. Battled-tested teams are teams I'd be more willing to back than teams who haven't faced adversity before.
Momentum can be a fickle thing. Some believe in it, while others think it's just an excuse for playing well or well below your standards. I believe that momentum is something that exists and is something that can be carried a long way. I believe there is no other sport in the world where a momentum swing is more prevalent than the one in college basketball.
Instead of looking at a team's win-loss record, you should look at how a team has performed in its last 10 games to get a better understanding of where they are as a team. Momentum plays a big factor late in the year, and for teams struggling down the stretch and backing into conference tournaments that should be a red flag for bettors to consider.
On the contrary, a team that has notched several noteworthy wins down the stretch in conference play could possibly be a team to back going forward. However, tread lightly, because not all teams who are on a hot streak matchup well with their tournament opponent.
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