Understanding Bracketology This March Madness



Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson hoists the national championship trophy after defeating the Michigan Wolverines.

Sierra Homod, Contributing Writer

It is officially time for March Madness! Every sports fanatic looks forward to this time in the NCAA season because of bracket play. It is an adrenaline junkie’s dream!

Bracket play is a simple understanding for the standard sports fan, even if you do not watch college ball it is still easy to get involved. The bracket has subdivisions with four different regions geographically based and each region consists of 16 teams each individually ranked 1-16. In total there are 68 teams. Within the tournament there are rounds, it goes as is, First Rounds, Second Rounds, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and then Championship. When the games officially start your bracket will be scored. Final Four games are worth 16 points whereas all the opening games are only worth 1 point.

The NCAA offers several tips for bracket players to build the best bracket and they are very straightforward. You want to build your bracket backwards instead of starting with first round picks. I find it easier to pick your champion first, then move to the Final Four. After, place teams who you think will play to their ranking. For instance, if you think Arkansas is going to play to their rank as a #3 seed then put them in the Sweet 16.

The NCAA has stated almost every year that bracket players will ruin their bracket if they just build it in order. Most people think when building a bracket you need to get rid of all the lower seed teams first. WRONG. But that doesn’t mean lets defy the odds and throw out the number one seeds in the first rounds. BAD IDEA! It’s quite obvious no team has a better chance of winning than a number one seed. Even statistics say that number one seeds win more.

NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament March Madness Logo. (Getty Images)

Don’t think just because the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) upset the #1 overall seed Virginia in 2018 means that that is bound to happen a lot. You don’t need to put every #1 seed in the finals though, there has only been one time in modern March Madness history that all four of the number one seeds made it to the finals. One time in 34 years! So throw some upsets in there don’t be scared. Upsets happen every year, they are inevitable. There is an average of 12.7 upsets in the current version of the tournament every year. Pick at least 10 or so and you will do pretty good. If it helps, look up some games on YouTube and compare the performances of the teams.

In 2018, the #16 seed UMBC, defeated the #1 seed UVA. The first time that has happened in March Madness history. Photos Courtesy of Getty Images.

Lastly, don’t think just because one team has such a great defense or offense that they’ll be bound to go to the finals. This is a tournament where the teams are faced with different battles than the regular season. Statistics are a huge part of picking the right teams. Even #1 seeds have statistics lower than #16 seeds. Look into the percentages on schedule difficulty for each team and just see how close they come to performing the same sometimes. Don’t ruin your bracket and put the number one defensive team in the finals. Statistics say that not even one team in modern tournament history, that was shown to have the best defense, has made it to the championship.

With all that being said, I wish you all luck on your bracket building/playing and most of all have fun!

Sierra Homod, Contributing Writer