Bracket Picking Tips
Its so close it almost hurts… but March Madness and the NCAA tourney start up again this Friday! This exciting news can only mean one thing; Its time to fill out those brackets. The best part about the tournament, is that truly anything can happen. Therefore, since anything can happen, there are tons of ways you can try to pick your bracket and win your pool! You don’t need to be biggest college basketball fan to have fun with your bracket, and who knows, maybe win a little money on top of it.
Let’s go over some quick do’s, do not’s, and fun tie breakers to maximize this years brackets:
Don’t be Afraid to be “Boring”
One reason March Madness is great because the those wild and unexcepted upsets. Its great to see that 15 seed team with a student body of less than 2,000 students take down a mighty Blue Blood program that is a title contender. But, that doesn’t mean you need to force yourself into picking a ton of wild upsets. You might hear people calling your bracket “Chalk”, which is the equivalent for boring this time of year, but there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Don’t force yourself into picking a 14 seed to the final four, your will regret it later.
Don’t be Afraid to Stand with Your School
Some of these tips can sometimes go against each other, but hey anything can happen in the tournament. Knowing that, don’t let anyone talk you out of taking your school to win a game or two, regardless of their odds going into it. The beauty of anything can happen, is that it can happen to your school or team you support. You can be sure that if the Saint Joseph’s Hawks made the tourney somehow, I’d pick them to take down Gonzaga in a heartbeat. You will feel guilty if you pick against your school regardless of the outcome, so have fun with it and pick your own team.
Taking Advice or Tips from an Expert on Matchups is OK
50% of people that fill out a bracket this year will have not watched a single college basketball game this season up to this point. I completely made up that stat, but you had no problem believing it did you? That’s because we know that is true for a very large portion of bracket participants. So with that being the case, if you are one of them, don’t feel ashamed for following someone who has put more time into it. Here at The Gambler we have plenty of experts, like Joe Tansey (@JTansey90), Mark Drumheller (@x_drumheller), Jon Jansen (@jjansen34) and many more who are sharing picks and thoughts all week long. While I obviously think our team is the best source, even if you choose to follow one of the talking heads on the networks, that’s perfectly fine too. Point being, its fine to make a pick simply because “so and so said so.”
Don’t pick a 16 seed
The exception to this rule is if your team is one of those 16 seeds, in which case I wish you luck (Go Drexel!). And yes, I know it was just a few years ago when UMBC beat Virginia and shocked the world. It was awesome, I know. That being said, just by historical stats alone, there is less than a 1% chance of it happening again this season, and even less of a chance of you picking which one it will actually be. There is a good chance it will kill your bracket before it ever begins, so don’t try it. The 1 seeds are there for a reason, take them.
Don’t Overthink It
The Extended Sunday night to this year Friday at noon stretch of waiting for the games to start will make this part even more difficult than years past, so it will be more important to give yourself a leg up on the competition. General rule of thumb in not just sports betting/picking but also in life, your first instinct is usually your best. Obviously, I’m not saying don’t make any adjustments if relevant information comes out. In that scenario its fine, if not encouraged to change your pick. But don’t make your initial picks, and then talk yourself out of it because you got to deep into your own head. Don’t have Team A as a winner all week, then change it Friday at 11 A.M. because you found out Team B has a 7 footer on the bench who loves waffles. Stick with your gut unless actually relevant information has persuaded you otherwise.
Don’t Trash Talk to Early
It’s gonna be tempting… maybe you’ve watched more college ball this year than in the past and you think you know everything about every team. You’re an unstoppable freight train of knowledge that simply knows with zero doubt you will annihilate the competition, and you also started looking at Yachts because you see those massive prizes for perfect brackets.
Now that we’re out of fantasy land, let’s real it back in. I’ve said it 10 times by now, anything can happen. I’m all for some good trash talking the competition, but just make sure you are prepared to take it back if things go the exact opposite way. Because if you are that confident, they almost certainly will go the other direction.
You can use these tips to help swing you one way or another on games if you are really stuck:
See what Vegas says- You can go look at all the lines for tourney games on Draftkings sportsbook right now. No need to bet, just see who is favored and let Vegas break your tie
Copy an Expert- Kind of a repeat here, but it can also help you in this tough call spots. Find your favorite expert picker, and then simply copy their pick if you’re stuck. At the Gambler, many of our experts will even respond to you with reasoning on twitter if you simply ask!
Go with the Stronger Conference- Maybe you don’t have a feel on specific teams, but you do have a vibe on one conference being stronger than the other. You can base your pick on that conference affiliation and use that to break the tie
Way More Fun Illogical Tie-Breakers
The beauty of March is that there is no way to prove these won’t work out better than the logical ones we just talked about:
Mascot Fights- My personal favorite, you imagine what would happen if the two schools mascots battled it out. Its all imaginary, so hopefully PETA doesn’t come after me, but who doesn’t love imagining these sometimes hilarious scenarios. Who win’s in a battle of birds between a Jayhawk (Kansas) and a Hawkeye (Iowa)? Could a Knight wearing Scarlet (Rutgers) fend off a Tiger (Clemson)? Does a nut (Ohio State) have hope against anybody??? These are all great questions that can help break tie’s in your picks
Coin Flip- way less fun, but gets the job done… Next!
Jersey Color Rankings- If you want to use this method, you need to do this before you start your bracket. Rank your favorite colors, everything in the rainbow should suffice. Then if you get a tie, simply go with your higher ranking. So if you were torn between Michigan State against Michigan, but your chart has Green above Yellow, then your answer is to roll with Sparty.
Hopefully this was a fun way to start your tourney week, and as always thanks for reading.