Strategies abound for creating the perfect March Madness bracket

By Zach Backiewicz, ’19

For sports fanatics, March means one thing: March Madness. The sporting event spans about three weeks beginning this year on March 14 and ending on April 3. With a total of 68 teams competing for a national championship, the event draws a lot of attention with the wide variety of schools and matchups.

While the overall tournament is very popular, creating brackets catches students’ and viewers’ attention. Websites such as ESPN and Fox Sports have annual bracket competitions where you can compete with friends, fanbases or celebrities. The goal is to have the most accurately filled bracket. However, nobody has ever been recorded of having a perfect bracket. In fact, the odds of this happening are one in 9.2 quintillion.

While the odds of creating a perfect are slim, there are some helpful tips to create the most accurately filled bracket. For sophomore Bryant Benowitz, creating a winning bracket would result in bragging rights and a lump sum of cash.

“Before the bracket is released, I try to watch as much basketball as I can just so I can stay familiar with the teams,” Benowitz said.

During March Madness, it’s likely there will be some close matchups. When deciding between two teams, there are a few components to consider. While a team’s rank can be deciding factor between a matchup, it is important to recognize the strength of their schedule and conference. Quality wins against ranked teams is another important aspect to consider as it proves that the team can play with tough competition. Researching some teams can be helpful, especially in the first round.

Another key factor when deciding the winner of a match up is which team is currently playing better. Momentum from conference tournaments and previous games in the tournament have proven to help teams in the early rounds of the tournament and against tough competition.

Davidson University math and computer science professor Tim Chartier and his students utilize a data tool devised by Tresata, a Charlotte-based big data company to develop techniques that assist college basketball fans in their quest to predict the elusive perfect NCAA tournament bracket. While filling out your bracket, consider some of these tips.

When deciding to pick a national champion consider this feat: in the past 14 years, every national champion except one was a 1, 2, 3 seed. The exception was Connecticut, a 7 seed in 2014. Every winner has been within the top eight best-or-strongest conferences and has been ranked within the top 25. “When I decide which team will be the winner in my bracket I usually stick with programs such as Duke, North Carolina and Kansas. Sometimes Michigan State and Villanova,” Benowitz said. “It’s hard to choose against teams with such elite coaches and players.”

If you’re thinking about choosing an upset, consider that 76 percent of these games are by 10, 11, or 12 seeds with 27 percent done 12 seeds alone. However, the 8-9 game is a virtual lock. While the 8 seed is picked at a slightly higher clip, the chances of either team winning are about even. These techniques developed at Davidson have proven to be successful in years past with Chartier’s students finishing in the 99th percentile of the ESPN Tournament Challenge.

If students have a rough first few days with their bracket, they shouldn’t be disappointed and lose belief in their bracket. Having teams in the final four and deep into the tournament are more essential to winning the bracket competition.

With Selection Sunday taking place on March 12 and the tournament starting on the 14, March Madness will be a perfect transition from school to spring break for students at the high school. Hopefully students will be able to win some cash and bragging rights. Bring on the madness, March.