March Madness Bracket Guide for Beginners
Ready your brackets because the 2019 NCAA National Tournament is just right around the corner. March Madness brings out the craziness of basketball like no other league on the planet.
With a boiling cauldron filled with the best teams in the NCAA, expect upsets, buzzer beaters, and nonstop hoops action on a daily basis — for an entire month!
But another component of March Madness that has every college basketball fan — casual or not — buzzing is the March Madness bracket. The brackets will come into play on March 21, when the tournament proper commences.
What is March Madness Bracket?
A March Madness bracket is a form consisting of 68 teams that made it into the Big Dance, with each having a corresponding seed (1-16).
When filling out a March Madness bracket, a participant will have to predict the outcome of each game in the tournament. The basic idea of the contest is that the participant with the most points based on correct predictions will take home the top prize or pot.
How does March Madness Bracket work?
Make sure to have all picks entered before the First Four phase or you might get locked out of the pool. The tournament will have 68 teams overall, as determined by series of processes that includes the application of the NCAA Quadrant System.
Before the main event really gets going, four of the lowest-ranked teams will play for the two No. 16 seed slots in the NCAA bracket, while the other four teams are composed of four low-seeded teams among at-large bids, all vying for the other two seats in the first round of the tournament.
After that appetizer of a round, each of the 64 teams will be in survival mode. They will all play in a single-elimination tournament format that’s consisted of six rounds. A single loss would mean elimination, while a win would secure a team a place in the next round. This process continues until one undefeated team is left standing and crowned as the national champion.
There are four regional brackets composed of 16 teams each. The teams are seeded 1 through 16. Usually, one of the top five teams from a region emerges as a Final Four contender.
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March Madness bracket tips
The tournament is known for upsets so you’ll want to pick some lower seeds, especially in the early rounds. But go easy on hunting for potential Cinderellas, because the higher seeds are still the favorites to win their matchups. It’s also uncommon for these seeds to go deep in the tournament. So if you pick a 10 seed to go all the way to the Final Four, your chances of winning are greatly diminished if they strike out early.
During the first two days of the tournament, you’ll see 32 of your picks play. You’ll usually need to get more than 20 correct picks to keep in step with the leaders. In the round of 32, aim for at least 10 wins out of 16, but more is likely needed. Next is the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 rounds. If you still have a lot of coal on the fire at those junctures, you’re in great shape.
As a tiebreaker, you might be asked to enter a guess for the combined final score of the championship game. A high-scoring game would result in a combined score of 175, while 130 would be on the lower end of the spectrum.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t agonize over each pick. A perfect March Madness bracket has never happened and probably never will. After all, according to Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post, there are over nine quintillion possible bracket configurations. Good luck with that.
What are the odds of creating a perfect bracket?
It doesn’t matter how many basketball games you have watched in your life, you are very much unlikely to draft the perfect March Madness bracket. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but according to the NCAA, the odds of an immaculate March Madness bracket are as follows:
- 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 quintillion if you’re just randomly picking teams to win.
- 1 in 120.2 billion if you have a good basketball knowledge.
Obviously, studying the strengths and weaknesses of teams in the tournament means higher chances of predicting some games right, but that doesn’t make one immune to stepping on landmines, which the NCAA Tournament is full of. In any case, joining a March Madness bracket contest is fun and for many, profitable, too!