Having trouble filling out your NCAA bracket? Here are some mathematical tips to help

Having trouble filling out your NCAA bracket? Here are some mathematical tips to help

March 18th, 2015 by Jay Greeson in Sports - College

Everyone is looking for bracket help this time of year, right?

Be it a friendly office pool or whatever game you and your buddies have going, tips are hard to come by this time of year. Everyone is looking for that double-digit underdog to make a run like Davidson did in 2008. Or a red-hot team to shoot from the middle of the pack into the Final Four like last year's champion UConn did.

Sure, everyone including that girl in accounting knows that Kentucky is the prohibitive favorite, and Las Vegas puts the Wildcats at even money against the other 67 teams in the field.

2015 NCAA Final Four logo.

2015 NCAA Final Four logo.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Bracket for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.

Bracket for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Document: Men's NCAA Division I bracket

Download the bracket for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.

Source: The Associated Press

If you back the Wildcats, that's fine, but it will mean that the early rounds of the tournament will be even more important in whatever bracket contest you enter. Because roughly half the entries -- including that girl's in accounting -- will have Kentucky winning it all.

Here are some mathematical tips from Vegas insider R.J. Bell of pregame.com:

FIRST ROUND

Tip: Don't be shy picking upsets with No. 12 through No. 9 seeds.

No. 12 seeds have won at least one game 24 of 26 years -- and won three of four last year; No. 9 seeds have a winning record against No. 8 seeds since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

SECOND ROUND

Tip: Advance No. 1 seeds into Sweet 16 in almost all cases.

Eighty-eight percent of No. 1 seeds get through the first two rounds.

Tip: Keep advancing any No. 12 seeds you picked to win in round one.

No. 12 seeds have won 20 of 44 times in round two; No. 12 seeds have the same number of Sweet 16 appearances overall as No. 7 seeds. A double-digit seed has made the Sweet 16 28 of 30 years.

SWEET 16

Tip: Advance three No. 1 seeds into the Elite Eight, but not four.

A little more than 70 percent of No. 1 seeds make the Elite Eight. That's a higher rate than No. 5 seeds that win a single game.

ELITE EIGHT

Tip: Advance no team worse than a No. 9 seed to the Final Four.

Only three of 144 Final Four teams since 1979 have been seeded worse than No. 9 -- each was an No. 11 seed with VCU in 2011, George Mason in 2006 and LSU in 1986.

Tip: If you have all four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four, double-check your bracket.

All four No. 1s have advanced from their regionals in the same year one time since 1979, when Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA advanced to the national semifinals.

FINAL FOUR

Tip: Be very careful advancing two No. 1 seeds to the championship game.

Since tournament seeding began in 1979, No. 1 seeds have faced off in the finals only six times.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Tip: Pick a No. 4 seed or better to win it all.

This is especially true this year with arguably the top-heaviest bracket in recent memory, but historically true as well. In the last 26 years, the champion has been a No. 4 seed or better 25 times -- last year when No. 7-seeded UConn won it all was the lone exception. Villanova was the lowest seed -- No. 9 -- to win it all when the Wildcats beat Georgetown 30 years ago.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.


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