How to fill out a March Madness bracket

Norm Althoff

The calendar has turned to March and now comes the start of the NCAA tournament. A lot of people fill out brackets based on their predictions. There are millions of ways to fill out brackets and I’m here to help you through the long intense process. I’ll cover the conservative route that will help you score some easy points and be middle of the road in your pool and I’ll cover the aggressive route with upsets that will make or break you.

The conservative approach: The first step of any approach of filling out a bracket is to pick all number one seeds past the first round. No one seed has ever lost in the first round of the tournament. They should also be a pretty safe pick in the second round to make it to the sweet sixteen. The tricky picks are the eight seed-nine seed games. These are supposed to be the most even matchups in the tournament in the early rounds. If only one of the teams is in a power six conference (B1G, SEC, ACC, Big12, Pac12, BigEast) pick them, they will almost always have played a stronger schedule and have more experience. As you go down the rest of the first round games, it’s safe to pick the higher seeds. Don’t be afraid to pick some upsets, as they always happen. It depends on how the higher seed is playing at the time and how strong the lower seed is. To be safe, you can’t go wrong having a one, two, or three seed in the Elite Eight. When in doubt, take a one seed to get to the final four. In the Final Four all the teams are playing well and are pretty even despite possible differences in the seedings. Everyone loves a Cinderella; so if you have a low seed make it to the Final Four, why not have them win it all?

The aggressive approach: This type of approach to filling out a bracket is usually more fun. Still pick all the one seeds to win the first round games. The picks of the eight-nine seed games are still a toss up, so just pick whomever you feel like. Look for a lot of twelve-five seed games to pick the upset. A lot of times there are five seeds that aren’t playing well at the end and there are twelve seeds who are really hot. It happens every year, so don’t be afraid to pick the twelve seeds. Also go for the ten seeds over the seven seeds. These are pretty even games and it won’t be a shock if the ten seed wins. Don’t look to pick a 14 or 15 seed over a three or two seed because that rarely happens. If you’re feeling spunky and just want to try it out, go for it. In the second round games, if you’re really ready to get greasy pick an eight/nine seed over a one seed. Northern Iowa pulled one of the biggest upsets over the number one overall seed Kansas and that kind of pick will rock everyone else’s and make you look like a genius. Don’t have too many one seeds in the Elite Eight, one at most. Stick to the three and four seeds and even lower. There always seems to be a really low seed that makes it to the Elite Eight. Lastly, have NO one seeds in the Final Four. Only one time has four one seeds ever made the final four, so odds are there won’t be a lot there.

March Madness is a very fun time of year. There are a lot of ways to pick your brackets. Whether you go the conservative route or the aggressive route, you can’t go wrong! Fill out your brackets with pride and good luck!