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Tips for Filling Out Your NCAA Tournament March Madness Bracket

Written By:
Dale "The Donkey" DeCocker
Cappersinfo Staff Writer

“March Madness” is almost upon us, and with that usually means getting in an NCAA tournament match madness bracket pool with your co-workers, friends, or whoever happens to be starting a contest.  The reasons why these pools are so popular should be obvious, there is a decent amount of skill and luck that goes into picking the games for the entire tournament.  How many times has that guy who knows almost nothing about basketball won the whole thing?  Sure, there is a luck element involved in filling out your march madness bracket, but savvy hoops fans know a thing or two that give them an edge over “random luck guy”.  Let’s go over some basics:

  1. Don’t ever pick a #1 or #2 seed to lose in the first round: It’s obvious as to why you should never pick a #1 to lose their first game….it’s never happened!  As for a #2 seed, they have only lost in the first game 4 times out of 88 games, so 95% of the time the #2 will win.  If you are convinced that a #2 isn’t very good, pick them to lost in the second round versus either the #7 or #10 team.  You’re goal is to accumulate points, right?  Don’t give them away in the first round by picking a team that, according to past history, only has a 5% chance of winning.

  2. The #5 vs. #12 matchup: Veteran bracket fillers will tell you that this is the best spot for a “major upset”.  Since 1985, the #12 seed has beaten  the #5 seed 32 times (about 33%).  Since there are 4 games that feature this matchup, the upset occurs at least once a year (according to averages).  In 2006, the #12 teams went 2-2 with Montana and Texas A&M winning their first round games as a #12.

  3. #1 seeds are not locks to make the NCAA Basketball championship game: Only 4 times since 1985 have 2 #1 seeds played in the championship game, and never have all 4 #1 seeds made it to the Final Four in the same season.  Obviously, the #1 seeds are there for a reason and are safer bets to make it to the Final Four, but keep an eye out for a determined #4 or #5 seed to knock a couple of these teams.

As for the not so obvious, there are a few things you can look for if you’re just not sure of a team’s potential to make a long run during March Madness.  Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Teams that play poorly on the road: These teams usually play poorly in the in NCAA March Madness tournament.

  2. Senior leadership: Experience in a late game pressure situation goes a long way in a tournament game.

  3. The team that just came up short of pulling off the big upset last year in the tournament: Sometimes, it just takes teams a year or two to figure out what the tourney is all about.  Look for at a team like Winthrop; last year they were a 15 seed and they lost to Tennessee on a last second desperation shot.  You can bet that Winthrop remembers how close they were last year, and that experience in a pressure situation bodes well for them next season.

  4. Star players and Point Guard play: Basketball games, especially at the college level, can be taken over by that one special player.  And more often than not, a team can find success just on the strength of that one player.  In 2003 it was Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, in 2004 it was Emeka Okafor, in 2006 it was Joakim Noah.  Who is it in 2007?  Some early candidates are Greg Oden from Ohio State, Kevin Durant from U of Texas, maybe Joakim Noah from Florida for the second straight year, or maybe Acie Law from Texas A&M?  Also look for teams that get better than average play at the guard position.  College basketball is a game that tends to revolve around the guards more than any other position, as the guard play goes, so does that team.  A few stats that will help you determine who’s good and who’s not; look at Assist to Turnover ratio, 3 point percentage and Foul shooting.

  5. Teams that are hot going into the tourney, usually stay hot: This does not necessarily means that a team has to go 10-0 in their last ten games, but look for teams that finish strong, and finish strong against good opponents.  Sure, anyone can beat Penn State and Northwestern and finish 9-1, but how did they fare against ranked opponents such as Michigan State and Ohio State during their end of season run?

  6. Teams that are good free throw shooters: College basketball will often come down to a free throw shooting contest if one team is down in the final minute and trying to catch up.  Teams that ice a game away from the free throw line can keep control, and keep the momentum of the game on their side by making free throws.

So there you have it, a nice starting point for filling out your NCAA March Madness bracket sheets.  Follow these suggestions and you’re sure to have a place at the top of the standings sheet, well provided you also have some luck along the way.

Get many more more tips and advice for the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament from fellow members in the Sports Betting Forums!

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