March Madness is about to start, and brackets are popping up in Slack channels across the nation. The stakes are low since entries are almost always free. But the rewards for winning – or even coming up second – are tantalizing. There’s no way to hack a bracket or game the system. Your bracket’s performance depends on how your selected teams do. But there are a couple of ways to make smarter choices for your brackets. Here are a few things to keep in mind to leap ahead of your coworkers when it comes to March Madness bracket strategies.
Building A Strategy Around Bracket Points
If you don’t know, March Madness brackets award points for players who correctly predict the winning March Madness teams. The more accurate you are, the more points you get. But each March Madness round is also worth more points than the last. Whatever scoring mechanism your bracket uses, being correct in later rounds can be worth several misses in the first round. However, if you completely botch the later rounds, your only points are in the beginning. The right balance depends on the scoring system.
Adjust To Your Bracket’s Scoring System
Most brackets use the 1-2-4-8-16-32 scoring system, where each round’s picks are worth double the previous round’s picks. Under this system, players who choose the later rounds are heavily favored. And if you pick the championship winner, all the better.
However, there are less common scoring systems, like 1-2-3-4-6-10, which give players who perform well in the early rounds a chance to win. If your office is using a scoring system like this, then your earlier rounds could actually matter.
So, your bracket’s scoring system should inform your bracket strategy. Here’s how it can.
Think About How Far The Big Teams Can Go
If there are teams you think will go far in the March Madness Tournament, then focus on them first. For example, there are teams like UNC, Villanova, and Texas Tech that tend to do well year to year. These teams will probably last at least a few rounds, if not to the end. (These three teams have either won or been the runners-up in the past six years. They’re also not the only major teams with good chances to win.) So, you can build brackets around key teams that you think will make it to the end.
For example, if you think that Villanova will make it to round four, then you think that Villanova will beat everyone in the first three rounds. That means you’re betting on Villanova to beat – among other teams – Texas Tech, Purdue, and Virginia Tech. That realization may boost your confidence or crush it. But it’ll simplify your bracket choices regardless.
This strategy can serve you well if you’re in a bracket that scores later rounds highly. But for players who can afford to play it safe, you can rack up points by calling easy wins. For example, the Texas Longhorns beating the Abilene Christian Wildcats is an easy call to make. If there are enough easy matchups, this is a conservative bracket strategy. But that depends on the opening rounds. Leaning on a few teams toward the end is the more reliable strategy from year to year.
Bracket players can look back at previous winners and figure out what they have in common. Strong head coaches are important, and so are teams who repeatedly make the finals. But that’s true for any prediction type of game. The key is figuring out where the most points are and leaning on those positions. If later positions are worth enough, it’s not worth it to worry about the earlier positions. But if later positions don’t award enough points, early and easy calls could create a solid buffer.
March Madness bracket players will have to adjust their strategies based on their particular office’s games. But even this is enough to push you ahead of your worst coworkers on Slack. If you want more tips, check out our 2021 March Madness Betting Guide for more tips on this competitive basketball season.