With the 2019 NCAA Tournament fast approaching, it’s that time of the year for college basketball to shine on the sports world’s stage. It’s also one of the most popular times of the year for sports betting, especially now with NJ online sports betting in the fold. But we should also partially give thanks to bracket pools for the popularity of March Madness.
March Madness bracket pools are by far the most popular way the public takes an interest in the NCAA Tournament year-after-year. It has been reported in recent years that 70 million brackets are filled out with an estimated 24 million entered in pools like the ones many of us compete in with friends, family members or co-workers. There is over $10 billion in sports betting on March Madness annually, and bracket pools are reportedly responsible for around $3 billion of that total.
One of the great things about the NCAA Tournament is that everyone can get involved in creating their own unique bracket. Participating doesn’t require one to be an expert on college basketball, or even that you consistently watch the sport. Plenty of NCAA bracket pools are won by folks with little sports betting or NCAA basketball viewing experience.
With that said, it’s entirely possible that NCAA bracket pool players need a little guidance before making any March Madness bracket predictions for the upcoming tournament. Below are a few rules to help making March Madness bracket predictions a little easier.
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Rules For Making March Madness Bracket Predictions on 2019 NCAA Tournament
- Don’t Eliminate All Of Your Top Seeds Before The Final Four
This holds especially true for casual sports betting players who maybe don’t watch basketball all season. The NCAA Tournament is indeed full of upsets, but too many times people go overboard on eliminating favorites from their March Madness bracket predictions.
History tells us that at least one odds-on favorite often goes very deep into March Madness. A No. 1 seed has reached the final in 14 of the last 20 NCAA Tournaments. Even more impressive, a No. 1 seed has cut down the nets as national champions 14 times out of the last 20 tournaments as well. Three of the last four NCAA Tournament winners have been No. 1 seeds and on six occasions since 1999, two No. 1 seeds have faced each other in the championship. Only twice in the last 20 years has the Final Four been without a No. 1 seed.
- Research Is Key When Making March Madness Bracket Predictions
As strange as it sounds, picking the right finalists and champion isn’t oftentimes what wins March Madness bracket pools. Of course you need a good showing in the Final Four and need to get the champion right, but that’s not where the separation between players comes in at the end of the NCAA Tournament.
By the time the Final Four and championship roll around, there is usually more than one person who has the winner correct. It’s really about putting up a good showing in the first two rounds and the Sweet 16 to get the extra points that turn out to be the difference. Stats on strength of schedule, how teams play on the road/at neutral sites and conference tournament results can help when it comes to making NCAA bracket picks during the first couple of rounds.
- Don’t Commit Yourself To 12 vs. 5 Upsets In The 1st Round
A popular upset pick for many years has been No. 12 seeds over No. 5 seeds in the first round, however, an upset isn’t in the works simply by a small number put next to a team’s name. In fact, trends have shifted in recent years to No. 11 vs. No. 6 being the new upset special.
In the last four NCAA Tournaments, No. 5 seeds are 13-3 in the first round against No. 12 seeds, including all No. 5 seeds winning in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. On the flip side, No. 6 seeds are 6-10 against No. 11 seeds, so maybe go that direction instead you’re in need of a few upsets to pick in the first round. As a whole, try not to marry yourself to Cinderella teams based on their seed only.
- NCAA Tournament Champion Needs To Be Well-Rounded
There are always several options for picking a champion in your March Madness bracket pool. It can be tough, however, to decide which team to take later in the 2019 NCAA Tournament when most programs are pretty close in skill level. Whichever team you do decide on, it’s good to keep in mind what characteristics that team has and the way they generally play.
Teams that struggle mightily on one end of the floor or the other tend to struggle as it gets later into the NCAA Tournament. Looking back at recent history, most teams that go deep are well-rounded, meaning they can get stops on defense and score when they really have to. It used to be thought that defense was the hallmark quality of a dangerous team, and it’s still true to some degree, but teams that can’t score struggle to win in the type of environment that March Madness creates.
A perfect example would be Virginia, which in 2018 became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round. The Cavaliers are thought of as one of the most suffocating defensive units in the country but wound up scoring just 54 points against a mid-major school on the biggest stage in college basketball. On the other side, a team that can’t get stops leaves themselves no margin for error on offense, which is also not a recipe for success. Balance is key when making March Madness bracket predictions.