March Madness – How to Make a Killer Bracket with Tips from a College Basketball Expert

So you want to get in on the company bracket this year? Impress your Bumble date? Earn bragging rights with your friends? I’ve got you covered.

You might be thinking – what on EARTH does this girl know about sports?!

Literally nothing. I fully admit this. HOWEVER, I am married to a college basketball expert who loves to analyze every team down to their plays, statistics, historical data, coaches, etc. Basically – any number my husband can analyze within the game, he does. Luckily, I convinced Chris to share some valuable information with me that I can pass along to you. 🙂

Maybe you’ve been filling out brackets for years and just want to get some inside scoop or maybe you’ve never filled out a bracket in your life. Either way, we are going to start from the very top to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Understanding Seed Numbers

Seed numbers are the individual ranking of each team in the competition. A number 1 seed is considered the best and a number 16 seed the worst. FactA number 16 seed has never won a game in the March Madness tournament.

Know the Size and Rules of Your Pool

Every pool is different. If you are participating in a bracket pool with a large group of people it might make sense to avoid picking a favorite to increase your chances of winning. If your goal is to just have a good bracket and sneak in the money, then going with a favorite is fine.

If you are going heads up with a friend, then you should try and pick the strongest teams.

Know the rules of your pool. For instance, the pool I participate in every year has upset points. That means that you get more points for picking higher seed teams (think a 12 seed) to beat a lower seed team (think a 5 seed) if the higher seed team actually wins. You want to pick a few of these situations in the earlier rounds to gain points.

So Which Teams Are Good?

On your bracket, it will list all the teams with their correlating seed ranking. Seed rankings are not necessarily the best representation of the teams’ strength though. For a better understanding of the strength of each team, visit This site more accurately ranks the teams from best to worst. (You’ll need a subscription to look deeper into the teams, but you can access the overall rankings for free.)

The top six teams you should be focusing on to win it all are:

  • Virginia
  • Villanova
  • Duke
  • Purdue
  • Michigan State
  • North Carolina

Three great sleeper picks would be:

  • Wichita State
  • Arizona
  • Gonzaga

Now beware of potential opponents. For instance, Virginia could match up with Michigan State earlier in the tournament. Since both of these teams are so good, it would result in a toss up game. If this happens, I would not suggest picking Virginia or Michigan State to win it all. Too risky. Pay attention to the other great teams as they might have an easier path on their side of the bracket.

How I Pick My Bracket

The crazy thing about these pools is that anyone can win these brackets with just a little common sense. You don’t have to know much about basketball at all. Typically, I look at the top 8 teams and pick my favorite to win it all. This might be based on knowing someone who went to school there, the team’s colors, what state the team is located in… haha… ya’ll know my love for Florida.

From there, I typically work backwards with those top 8 teams. Expert Tip: Working backwards helps keep you focused on the teams you pick to win.

Remember, the bracket I participate in awards points for upsets. This is when I fill in the gaps I have left using my method of knowing someone who went to school there, the team’s colors, what state the team is located in, etc. to finish the bracket. Have fun with it!

I find it WAY too complicated to keep track of more than one bracket, but if you are filling out more than one, I’d recommend selecting different teams to take it all. It will help keep you in the running longer. Hopefully. Haha. 🙂

May the odds be forever in your favor.

XO, Lauren (with help from Chris)

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