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Useful Tips for Filling Out Your March Madness Bracket

March madness has finally arrived!! This time of year is always hectic for me, mostly because of midterms, papers and projects, but what helps ease a lot of this stress is filling out my bracket every year in the hopes of achieving a perfect bracket (which will probably never happen, unfortunately, given that the odds are at one in 128 billion). Wow. However, I cannot express enough how exciting this tournament truly is. I have been a huge college basketball fan for my entire life, given that it’s a big deal where I grew up in Durham, NC. During March, our teachers would either let us leave class early to watch some of the games or would even turn the games on during class. Regardless if you’re a basketball fan or not, you are most likely going to get swept up into the craziness and hype for the next few weeks, because most of the predictions you make will prove to be completely wrong and the unexpected will always happen. I thought it would be fun to provide you all with a couple tips for achieving at least some success in your brackets, although do not hold me accountable if many of these explanations turn out to be false this year. Anything can happen, that’s the beauty of march madness!

Do Not Pick All The Number 1 Seeds To Reach The Final Four

Maybe the number 1 seeds are number 1 for a reason, but it’s highly unlikely that all of them will make it through to the finals. Although the selection committee has determined that Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga, and UNC are the best teams, the best teams do not always win: remember what happened to Virginia last season? Based off of the last three years alone, an 11 seed, 7 seed and 10 seed have reached the Final Four. The trend of lower-seeded teams making a deep run seems to be pretty permanent, so I would not place too much importance on the rankings.

Pick At Least One 12 Seed / 5 Seed Upset: Probably Two

This kind of upset happens every time March Madness rolls around. Usually, it’s the fact that 12 seeds have been seeded too low or 5 seeds have been seeded too high. Although there’s a lot of disparity talent-wise between 16 and 1 seeds and 15 and 2 seeds, there’s not much room separating a 12 from a 5. I cannot even remember a tournament where a 12 seed did not advance to the next round. It does not matter which specific teams you pick, but always try to choose at least 2 of these upsets.

Do Not Pick a 16 Seed to Beat a 1 Seed

Most people are aware that Virginia, not just as a 1 seed but the number 1 overall seed, lost to 16-seeded UMBC last season, which up until then had never occurred in the history of the tournament. Although the seemingly never-ending cycle is finally broken, I wouldn’t get too ambitious this time around. 16 seeds have made their way into the field only by winning their conference tournaments, and it’s not to say that they don’t belong here but based off of history their experience is usually short lived. In most cases, it’s difficult to compete against the sheer level of talent and strength that the top seeds possess.

Make More Than One Bracket

It’s better to make multiple brackets because obviously, the games could go either way and as you all know, literally anything is possible. For example, oftentimes there’s only a slim difference between an 8 and 9 seed, so having an 8 seed win in one scenario and the 9 seed win in another makes perfect sense. I always designate one bracket in which my favorite team wins the national championship, one that contains way too many upsets, and one in which I mostly favor the higher seeds. The great thing is that ESPN’s tournament challenge allows you to make 25 brackets, so your chances for calling every game correctly aren’t completely dead.

But let’s be clear: No one is going to achieve the perfect bracket.


Happy March Madness, everyone!

Anjali Purohit

Wake Forest '21

Anjali Purohit is currently a sophomore at Wake Forest University from Durham, North Carolina. She is double majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Crime and Criminal Justice, and Spanish. Anjali loves singing, dancing, watching Netflix, writing, and spending time with her friends. On campus, she is part of Wake Forest's all-female contemporary a cappella group, Demon Divas, and a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
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