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How do you get your March Madness Bracket perfect?

As March Madness grips the nation, everybody’s looking to make money off their bracket predictions. Will this be the year that you strike it lucky by picking the perfect NCAA bracket and walking away with the pool prize?

To say the odds are stacked against you when compiling a March Madness bracket is an understatement at best. Putting together a perfect March Madness bracket is near-impossible, with the emphasis on the word ‘near.’

To put it into perspective, not a single person has successfully predicted the outcome of the entire bracket since its inception in 1939. There’s a simple reason for that, and it’s that you’ve got a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance to get it right.

If you know what you’re doing and you’ve got a firm grasp on the teams and players, you’ll be able to manipulate the odds in your favor but only slightly.

How do March Madness Brackets Work?

Even if you’re familiar with the inner workings of March Madness, you’d be wise to read on, as there are numerous changes brought about by last year’s March Madness cancellation and several restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination, knockout style tournament with 68 teams competing in seven rounds for the national championship. If you’re going to complete the bracket and bet on March Madness, it’s best to know what you’re dealing with precisely.

Team selection

How exactly does the NCAA determine which 68 teams get to compete and which stay home? The teams that are eligible to compete are split into two groups by the NCAA, namely Automatic Bids and At-Large Bids:

Automatic Bids – These teams are the winners of Division I postseason conference tournaments and receive automatic entry. Ordinarily, there are 32 teams; however, there are only 31 teams this year as the Ivy League did not coordinate a winter season.

At-Large Bids – Ten selection committee members pick the remaining teams that gain entry based on merit. These teams did not win their conference tournaments but impressed the members nonetheless. This step is often called into question as there is no formula to determine which teams are eligible. The selection committee members base their decision on analysis, subjective impressions, stats, and rankings. Ordinarily, there are 36 at-large bids, but this year there are 37 bids.

Brackets and seeds

Before a single tournament game starts, the selection committee members rank the teams 1 through 68 on Selection Sunday (March 14, 2021). The 1-seed represents the best team in college basketball based on regular season and conference tournament performance.

The four lowest-seeded at-large teams and the four lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers play in the First Four that occurs on Thursday, March 18. Once four of the eight teams have been eliminated, a field of 64 remains.

Under normal circumstances, the NCAA split the tournament bracket into four regions; South, West, East, and Midwest, with each region receiving 16 teams. Each team is seeded 1 to 16, with the 1-seed considered the best, while the worst team gets the 16-seed.

Once each team is assigned a seed and placed in one of the four regions, their first-round matchups can start. The higher-seeded teams receive preference in the first-round matchups by playing against the lower-seeded teams. For example, No. 1 vs. No. 16 and No. 2 vs. No. 15 etc.

This year the top four seeds and the First Four will be handled the same, while the rest of the bracket sees things differently. As a rule, geographic proximity drives the bracketing decisions based on the school’s location to the sites hosting the preliminary rounds, but not this year.

This year the teams will be placed in the bracket based entirely on their overall seed. This method is called the S-curve, and it gets more technical.

The bracket consists of 6 rounds (7 if you include the play-in games):

  • Round of 64
  • Round of 32
  • Sweet 16
  • Elite 8
  • Final 4
  • Championship Game

Number of games

An incredible number of games fall over a relatively short time frame of a little over a month. If you discount the play-in games and look at Round of 64 through to the Championship Game, it’s a total of 63 games played in Indiana this year. The teams that progress to the Championship Game will play no less than six games during the tournament.

Understanding the NCAA Bracketology Statistics

What is a perfect March Madness bracket? NCAA bracketology statistics will undoubtedly give you valuable insights.

As mentioned, the odds of compiling a perfect March Madness bracket is slim, with odds of 1 in 9.2 quintillion (9,223,372,036,854,775,808), meaning there are that amount of different possible outcomes. Only if you treat the 63 games like coin flips (1 in 263.), with each team theoretically having a 50% chance of winning the game.

But if you incorporate your basketball knowledge and introduce stats and data into your predictions, you could quite possibly lower the odds to 1 in a few billion.

Naturally, there’s a big difference between picking the perfect bracket and picking one that’s better than others. To get better betting odds, you’ll need to be incredibly knowledgeable, or you’ll have to revert to statistical methods. Still, even those aren’t going to get you close to a perfect bracket, as illustrated by researchers using statistical methods.

The researchers reliably picked close to 70% of the games correctly, dropping the odds of picking a perfect bracket to 1 in 5.7 billion. Similarly, a winning percentage of 71% results in 1 in 2.3 billion odds, and a 75% accuracy results in odds of 1 in 74 million.

How Do You Get a Perfect March Madness Bracket?

There goes a lot into compiling the perfect March Madness bracket, how many upsets you will factor into your picks, how many of the 1-seed teams will make it through to the Final Four, and how will the fact that every team plays in Indiana mix things up?

You could start by betting that all the No. 1 seed teams win their first-round matchups against No. 16 seed teams. It may look like a safe bet, but nothing is certain as proven by the No. 16 seed, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, defeating the No. 1 seed, the University of Virginia in 2018.

If you’re looking for an advantage, it’s best to forget about picking a bracket based on winning percentages and instead weigh the teams based on variables that fall outside of their regular-season records. Look at a statistical method that considers a team’s ranking based on the number of points each game was won or lost by, their opponents’ challenge, and when they played their games.

Historical indicators naturally also play a role when picking.

Consider teams with a No.5 seed or better to reach the Final Four and look at No. 3 seed or better to win.

Look at the Margin of Victory (MOV) for teams that could make a deep run. Not only is MOV a historical indicator of winners, but it can also help you choose the three Final Four games.

Consider teams with good defensive and offensive efficiency. Ideally, teams should be in the top-25 for both defense and offense.

Has Anyone Made A Perfect March Madness Bracket?

No one has ever picked a verifiably perfect bracket at any of the major games in the NCAA tournament history. Before the 2019 NCAA tournament, the longest streak of correct picks was 39 games, made in 2017.

Gregg Nigl shattered the previous record with an additional ten picks. Nigl correctly predicted the 2019 NCAA tournament into the Sweet 16. His luck came to an end on game 50 when his choice, Tennessee, lost to Purdue.

In an interview, Nigl revealed his secret to success. “The secret? Watching many Big 10 basketball, catching some of the bigger [NCAA] games like North Carolina-Duke, and then I always watch ‘Bracketology’ [on ESPN] on Selection Sunday. And then a lot of luck too.”

Shooting for the hoop

According to American Gaming Association research, March Madness is big business, with 47 million American adults betting $8.5 billion on March Madness in 2019 alone, which means that 1-in-5 adults are placing bets.

The NCAA perfect bracket remains ever-elusive, much to the chagrin of sports fans looking to cash in on their sporting knowledge at sportsbooks that offer the March Madness bracket with the best odds.

Despite the unlikelihood of picking a perfect bracket, fans continue to peer into their crystal balls to predict every action-packed game filled with up-and-coming new basketball stars.

The history of March Madness: What the numbers tell us about this year

We are deep in that time of the year again — March Madness.

This has been my favorite sporting event since high school and every single year, with crazy postseason stories and heroic players, it feels special.

The infamous NCAA tournament has been a huge part of popular culture for decades now with everyone from your grandmother to your little brother making brackets trying to predict the winners of each exciting game.

March Madness got its nickname because no matter the seed, you never really know what team will come out on top and spoil a powerhouse school’s postseason dreams.

There is plenty of debate behind the reason why these games are so unpredictable.

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The best answer perhaps is a mixture of the simple fact that 1) These players are too young and frankly, still not fully polished. 2) Many of the teams don’t play each other frequently so seeding is not always accurate. 3) Teams only play one game as opposed to the NBA in which they play a seven-game series. This lets teams have more of a chance to have catch a good team on a bad day.

There are just so many variables that affect one game and it’s unimaginable for anyone to realistically correctly guess all 63 games. But what about this year? Was this year especially “mad?”

How many upsets exactly were there and what is even considered an upset? Comparing this year and past years, we may find out what’s so unique about March 2018.

Before we can discuss upsets, we need to determine what can be considered one. An upset in March Madness is when a low seeded team, I consider that being 11 and lower, being matched up with a higher seed.

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This excludes the #7 v.s #10 and the #8 v.s #9. We will also only look at years after the expansion to the field of 64. With this criteria, the years with the most upsets are 2013, 2011, 2006, 2001 all with ten.

This year with that same criteria we are currently at eight. Looking at all the years in total, you can see that the range is from 7-10 with some outliers. So the amount of upsets this year isn’t what particularly makes this year shocking. There seems to be an illusion here and what really affects this statistic is where the upsets happen.

Sometimes a seed will make a particularly deep run and that racks up the numbers. Historically, #11 seeds become the “Cinderella Story” and make a deep run. Even then, all have been stopped short at the Final Four. While getting there is an accomplishment in itself, other lower seeds hardly ever actually make those types of long runs.

What’s really shaking people’s brackets up now is that these 13, 14, 15, and now thanks to UMBC, 16 seeds are knocking out top seeds who are expected to make a deep run. This ultimately ruins all future picks and busts bets after the first two days.

This is where the madness lies. You know there will be a certain amount of upsets every year but picking where they land pretty much determines your entire bracket. What top school is going to take a fall to some heroic mid-major school? Who knows? Take this year so far as a great example.

Virginia was seen as the strongest team by far coming into the tournament, probably had the best defense in the entire country as well and was coming hot off winning the ACC tournament, the best basketball conference in the NCAA.

Somehow THAT team ended up giving up 74 points and taking a 20 point fall to UMBC, the 16 seed who are only in through an auto-bid after winning their conference tournament through a BUZZER BEATER.

That’s unbelievable, who can plan for that? I don’t think you can in good faith go in and pick the 16 seed to ever beat the 1 seed and this year is obvious proof that it can definitely happen and end your March Madness run very short. So what about schools like Syracuse who are historically known to be a top basketball school and can make deep runs under the great Jim Boeheim, the second most winningest active coach?

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In this years case, Syracuse was the very LAST team in. Hell, they were one of the first four who had to play to even get into the tournament.

Surely, this makes them a Cinderella for dancing themselves all the way into the Sweet 16? Well, if you look back you can see that for the past couple years, the “first four,” one of the #11 seeds always becomes an upset and wins at least one more game after. They have this underdog feel every single game yet also had history giving them some hope.

These patterns don’t make much sense but somehow work out every March Madness. In conclusion, the Cinderella Stories that are made every year are greatest and are the bracket breakers, but trying to predict too many seems to be the trap some fall into every year. In truth, no one ever really knows what Cinderella’s will come out to dance.

So, we know why March is so unpredictable and how many upsets you can kind of expect to happen. Not knowing where the upsets land is really what makes March so “maddening.” But this year has been special in another way.

Virginia being the number one overall seed and losing to the #16 was unprecedented. If #11 Loyola-Chicago moves forward in the Final Four, then history will once be made again.

It would be the first time a #11 seed has made it all the way to the Finals. So while this year isn’t particularly loaded with a lot of Cinderellas, the length and significance of these upsets has really made this year a historic one.

I know I will be more cautious selecting my #1 seeds from here on out, granted I still think you should never bet against one in the round of 64.

Michael Porter Jr. is back and ready to remind everybody he’s one of the nicest

Michael Porter Jr., basketball phenom. Ever heard of him?

Well that’s probably because he’s only logged a total of two minutes in Division 1 basketball. Allow us to put you on game to this highly touted NBA prospect.

Ranked the #2 recruit in the 2017 high school class, MPJ has been considered amongst the game’s can’t miss prospects with the most NBA ready potential.

The 6’10” small forward from Columbia, Missouri was both a McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic representative.

Tbt 🙏🏼

A post shared by Michael Porter Jr. (@mpj) on

Fun fact, Brandon Roy was his coach during his senior year at Nathan Hale HS in Washington. The pair secured the 2017 National High School Player and Coach of the Year respectively.

Porter Jr. put up an astonishing 52 points and 23 rebound on his high school Senior Night. There’s no questioning it, the kid can absolutely ball.

Fast forward nearly one whole calendar year and the talented wing for the Missouri Tigers has barely played. He suffered a brutal injury during the first minutes of the season opener to Iowa State.

Porter was expected to miss the entire season with a lower back injury that required surgery, a complicated microdiscectomy procedure to his L3-L4 spinal discs.

Spine injuries are difficult so it was hard to expect him back this season but he kept at it through grit, grind, and determination.

On February 22, 2018, Porter Jr. was cleared to practice with Missouri, with the potential to return to play before the end of the season.

He returns this afternoon during the second round of the SEC Tournament matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs, much to the amazement of his teammates and basketball junkies across the nation.

He never checked out on Missouri, continuing to work out with the team. Prior to their match up with Arkansas he let the world know:

“The plan is to keep working, with an eye on potentially playing at the SEC tournament and helping our squad be successful in the postseason.”

Porter is set to log anywhere between 20 to 25 minutes and with a win this afternoon, they’d face powerhouse Kentucky next. Talk about setting the stage for a big time comeback.

His determination and will to make it back is just another factor for NBA scouts to consider, but we can assure you they’re salivating to see him in action again. So are we.

LiAngelo Ball doesn’t have many options. Does LaVar have a plan?

On Monday, news broke that LaVar Ball was taking his middle son LiAngelo out of UCLA in order to prepare him for next year’s NBA Draft.

This comes after LiAngelo’s arrest in China for stealing LV shades caused somewhat of an international incident. The Ball patriarch has also taken his youngest son LaMelo (16) out of high school at Chino Hills to homeschool him.

The word out of the Ball camp is that LiAngelo isn’t looking to transfer to another school but instead look for opportunities overseas or just work out at home in preparation for the draft.

“I’m going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have,” LaVar told ESPN.

The issue here is that LiAngelo isn’t on the same level as his older brother Lonzo, who was drafted 2nd overall by the Lakers in June.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo’s The Vertical spoke to an NBA talent evaluator who analyzed LiAngelo’s prospects overseas. The scout told Eisenberg that LiAngelo matched the profile of someone in the Spanish third division,

“No young players, with the exception of the occasional DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic, are good enough to succeed in the top division overseas or in the G-League at 18 or 19 years old. LiAngelo could probably play third division in Spain, France or Germany. I doubt that’s what he has in mind.”

Apparently LaVar is advertising his two younger sons as a package deal. LaMelo is a top prospect at his age and is an intriguing talent much like his oldest brother, so it could sweeten any deal that a team is taking on for LiAngelo.

One team has emerged as a possible suitor for the younger Balls, Lietkabelis in the Lithuanian league is apparently interested… that is until the team’s coach made a (now-deleted) tweet referencing LiAngelo’s transgressions in China.

“Yes, we have an opening at the security staff since they have an experience in this field,” Lietkabelis head coach Arturs Stalbergs wrote.


For UCLA, where Lonzo starred for one year and the school that LaVar has previously claimed all of his sons would attend, this brings an end to a relationship that had been mutually beneficial.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote about that relationship and how it was no longer really  necessary to uphold for either party,

“LiAngelo isn’t as good as Lonzo, but neither side could admit that. They had to play out the string, keeping up appearances. They were doing it for Lonzo, they were doing it for LaMelo. Once the buzz began about LaMelo not attending college, and once LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China and then indefinitely suspended, it was clear neither side wanted to be in the relationship any longer.”

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, whose job may have been saved by Lonzo and his star-studded recruiting class, spoke to the media about his shock at LiAngelo’s (or LaVar’s?) decision to leave the program:

“I don’t think it’s angry. I think it was more, maybe, surprised. If you’re looking for one word, maybe it’s surprised because it’s nothing that we saw coming.”

Everyone seems to be piling on the Balls right now. Lonzo is struggling with the Lakers, LiAngelo got arrested and is now being trolled by coaches in the Lithuanian league, LaMelo is being home schooled. It’s definitely a weird situation but something tells me LaVar has some sort of plan for his younger two sons.

Whether or not LiAngelo can find a team overseas or get drafted next year, we’ll be talking about it, and there’s something to be said for that.

LiAngelo Ball and UCLA players freed after… Donald Trump helped?

Donald Trump apparently spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the shoplifting case involving 3 UCLA freshmen basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball.

Trump wanted Xi Jinping to find a resolution to the case in which the 3 players shoplifted from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou last week.

Now, with the players reportedly on their way back to the United States, it seems a resolution has been reached.

Trump told reporters as he heads back to Washington after almost two weeks in Asia,

“They’re working on it right now. Hopefully everything is going to work out”

LiAngelo Ball, the middle brother of the infamous Ball family, provoked somewhat of an international incident after stealing from a Chinese mall.

According to the Washington Post, a crime like this usually merits jail time, but the players have seen their punishment trimmed. From the Post,

“The fact the players are teenagers could reduce the severity of the punishment, as could their cooperation to try to make the situation right. Doing so could include admitting wrongdoing, as well as providing compensation for the stolen goods.”

LiAngelo’s father LaVar’s outspoken nature obviously adds another layer to this story and he said last week that he wasn’t too worried about his son’s arrest, “Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.”

Surely having the President of the United States get involved in the ordeal makes it a big deal. Regardless, it seems like Trump actually helped out, this may actually be the first kind of OK thing Trump has done in office.

LiAngelo’s big bro Lonzo was upbeat about his little brother’s situation,

“Hopefully [Trump] helps him, and everything works out. When I talked to my dad and my little brother, it seemed like everything was going fine, so I assume everything is going cool out there.”

LaVar and the youngest Ball have travelled to China where they will have a pop-up for their Big Baller Brand, in typical fashion the Balls have created a bunch of hype around the event.