By Devin Bradshaw
Get your brackets out, March Madness is here again.
The NCAA tournament, known as the Final Four, is one of the biggest, most unpredictable and most exciting events in all of sports. 68 Division I teams are divided into four regions and compete in a single elimination tournament until one team is crowned National Champions.
March Madness began in 1939 and has been played annually every year since. At the beginning, the NCAA tournament started with only eight teams and continued to grow, expanding to 64 teams in 1985. And now it’s grown even bigger, according to washingtonpost.com, in 2010 the NCAA and CBS came to an agreement to add four more teams to the tournament to add even more money making opportunities. Pushing the total amount of teams to 68.
Nowadays the phenomenon has grown to a much higher level, and has become a cash cow for the NCAA. According to BusinessInsider.com, the NCAA Tournament generated over one billion dollars just from TV ads.
The NCAA tournament is important for the organization and the teams involved but it may be an even bigger deal for office pools and sports books around the country. According to the American Gaming Association, over 70 million brackets were filled out in 2017 and $10.4 billion dollars were wagered on March Madness.
Filling out brackets has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The first bracket pool, according to Smithsonianmag.com, is thought to have started in 1977 at Jody’s Club Forest in Staten Island. 88 people filled out brackets in the pool that year, and paid $10 in a winner-take-all-format. In 2006, at the same bar, 150,000 people entered, and the prize money exceeded $1.5 million. So much money was exchanged the federal government took notice, and the bar’s pool shut down. But this shows the meteoric rise in the popularity of the NCAA bracket from the 70s to today.
Filling out your own brackets can be fun and exciting, but can be heartbreak for you as well, the unpredictability of the tournament leads to many upsets you may never see coming. FIlling out a bracket involves picking a winner for each game all the way down to the Final Four and then picking a champion.
Getting a perfect bracket is an impossible task but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Here are a few tips for filling out your own bracket.
Don’t pick a No.1 seed to lose before the Elite Eight
No. 1 seeds rarely lose, they make one of the safest bets to win in the tournament of all teams. According to mcubed.net, No. 1 seeds have never lost to a No. 16 seed since the tournament expanded in 1985. No. 1 seeds also have a 84.9 percent win rate against No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the second round and a 75.6 percent win rate against No. 4 or No. 5 seeds in the Sweet 16.
Look for easier roads in a particular bracket
If you see a section of a bracket with tough teams, it can be a crapshoot. For example, last year Villanova was the top overall seed in the entire tournament, but with tough teams such as Wisconsin and Duke in their way, it made their path that much more difficult. Even though a team may seem like a safe pick going into the tournament it may not always be that way. You have to consider everything when deciding who to go pick.
Find an upset or two
The fun in the NCAA tournament can be the upsets that are bound to happen. They are the most exhilarating parts of March Madness especially if you pick the right ones. You can start by looking at the No.14 seeds. According to SI.com, since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, 18 No.14 seeds have beaten No.3 seeds. But don’t go too far with your upset picks as fun as it may seem, of the double-digit seeds only No. 10 (once) and No.11 (twice) have ever made it to the Final Four.