March Madness Explained
Every March, with the exception of this year, the NCAA Selection Committee meets to form a 68-team bracket for the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament to determine a national champion, which is often referred to as “March Madness”.
There are a total of 32 conferences in college basketball, and each conference is given an automatic bid to the tournament. Every conference holds a postseason tournament prior to the national tournamaent, and the winner of that postseason tournament is then awarded the conference’s automatic bid to March Madness.
The remaining 36 spots in the tournament are referred to as “At-Large Bids” and are given to teams that didn’t win their conference tournaments but exceled through the regular season, by the Selection Committee.
The 68-team bracket is then broken up into 4 regions, and each of the teams are assigned a region and given a seed from 1 through 16. The No. 1 seed in each region is supposed to be the best team in that region, followed by No. 2 and No. 3 and so on.
The Tournament runs through the end of the month and into early April, and is one of the most popular sporting events in America.
March Madness Bracket Predictions
One of the reasons for its tremendous popularity is its single-elimination bracket-style play which allows fans, both casual and die hard, to fill out their own brackets at home and follow along. According to Nielson, somewhere close to 70 million brackets are filled out each year by 40 million people, which means there are literally millions of different predictions from across the globe.
Before this season’s tournament was cancelled, Kansas (+450) was the favorite to win it all. Gonzaga (+900) is the favorite for the 2021 title.
While it may seem like a good bet to roll with the favorite when filling out your bracket and making your own predictions for March, the tournament is notorious for its jaw-dropping upsets.
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March Madness Upset Predictions
Upsets are the name of the game in March. One of the major reasons the NCAA Tournament has gained its massive popularity among sports fans is because you truly never know what is going to happen, especially in the first round of play.
There are certain games that seem to lend themselves to the possibility of the upset, the most well-known is the dreaded 12 vs. 5 first-round matchup. Most of the time, a 12 seed is a solid team from a smaller conference that doesn’t have a lot of quality wins or national exposure, but has won a lot. No. 5 seeds are often big-name programs that have been somewhat disappointing but have a lot of talent. This leads to games that are a lot closer than the seedings imply.
According to NCAA.com, this is how often teams with lower seeds have beaten their higher-seeded counterpart in the opening round since 1985:
50 different No. 12 seeds have defeated fifth-ranked opponents in the first round, and even more No. 11 and No. 10 seeds have pulled off the upset.
Picking a successful bracket is all about identifying potential early upsets of which others may not be aware. If you can do that, you can make sure your bracket comes out on top.
March Madness Final Four Predictions
Each region plays four rounds of games to determine a champion of that region. The last team left unbeaten following its first four games is then one of just four teams remaining in the entire tournament, along with the other three regional champions. This round is referred to as “The Final Four”.
Making Final Four predictions is about knowing what teams need in order to make a deep run. Usually, teams with good defense and solid veteran guard play make deep runs. Lots of talented teams with younger players will fall short of their ultimate goal because they lack defensive prowess and leadership.
March Madness Winner Predictions
Picking an overall champion and picking teams to represent each region in the Final Four is pretty similar.
Things like defense, guard play and shooting all come into account, and while upsets are extremely common, the No. 1 seeds are seeded at the top for a reason.
Since 1985, 20 No. 1 seeds have won the entire tournament, more than any other seed. So it’s important to balance your upset picks with realistic expectations in order to find a sweet spot for your bracket.