March Madness is upon us. With more than 40 million people participating in tournament pools, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the most engaging sporting events in the United States. Still, making the best picks to maximize the chances of winning a pool is a difficult task at best for most people, and one where the odds are usually against them.
Luckily, the internet offers several tools to help you make the best bracket selection. I have outlined 5 great tools below to help you fill out your bracket. Pick the one that you like best, or mix and match to make your perfect NCAA Tournament bracket.
Avoid Bias with the Blindfold Bracket
The Wall Street Journal’s blindfold bracket gives you a statistical breakdown of each match without revealing team names. This approach could be especially useful for people who tend to pick high profile teams without looking at statistics. With team names such as the Kazoos and the Loveseats, it is hard to choose based on names alone.
The blindfold bracket rates teams on a 5 point scale in the categories of experience, size, offence, defense, 3-point shooting, and hot streak. They identify the conference profile and give a short 1-2 sentence overview of the team. To make it harder to guess which team they are describing, they give the seed and RPI as a range, although if you follow NCAA basketball, it isn’t tough to figure out who many of the teams are.
Bracket voodoo analyzes your bracket based on the type of pool you are in as well as the number of participants in your pool to give you your chance of winning. It also analyzes key games to tell you if you made a “good pick” or a “poor pick” as well as highlighting key games based on your bracket. You can switch things up and analyze your bracket again to see if you can increase your probability of winning.
Of course, BracketVoodoo cannot account for specifics within your pool. For example, you might know that most people in your pool favor a specific team which could affect the strength of your bracket compared to the rest of the pool.
Ask the experts
There are several so called “experts” when it comes to creating brackets, but few have the track record of Paul Bessire of Prediction Machine. With a masters in quantitative analysis, he is one of the foremost authorities on mathematically analyzing all sports. In fact, in the past nine years he has correctly predicted the NCAA tournament champion seven times.
Paul’s “Prediction Machine” uses the current rosters and strength-of-schedule and pace-adjusted team and player stats to play each tournament individually. It then advances the team that wins the most often giving you a bracket odds table with each teams likelihood of advancing to each round.
In general, this predictor will give you very few upsets, but, because it gives you percentages, you can quickly figure out which upsets to hedge your bets on.
Avoid probability – Pick your favorite
In a tournament where literally anything can happen, sometimes it is easier to pick your bracket based on who you want to win rather than who you think will win.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to pick based on team colors or mascot. In fact, SB Nation has already put together their mascot bracket.
Buzzfeed has another interesting way to determine who you want to win. For the first week of March Madness, they offer a personality-based bracket guide that helps you pick your winners based on which team better matches your personality.
A non traditional route
Though not an online tool, another easy option is to just pick all upsets. You probably won’t win the pool, but you’ll likely have a few exciting opportunities to say “I called that!”
Know of another online tool to fill out your bracket? Tell us about it in the comments.