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7 Mistakes To Avoid When Filling Out Your March Madness Bracket


It’s that time of year again. The upsets, buzzer beaters, heart breaks and the thrill of victory are right around the corner. With Selection Sunday just ten days away, here are some tips to prevent your bracket from being the busted one in your group.

  1. Picking with your heart, not your head

Yes, we would all love to see our schools advance deep in the tournament, but it’s important to not be ridiculous when trying to show your loyalty. If they’re your team, you should know them well enough to make a rational and reasonable prediction as to how far they can go. So to any Charleston or Murray State fans out there, lets keep it real.

2. Don’t be the guy who picks a N0. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed 

Its never happened in the 132 match-ups between No. 1 vs. No. 16 seeds. Is it bound to happen eventually? To quote Ted Wells, it’s more probable than not. In 1989, No.1 Georgetown and Oklahoma escaped with one point victories and we’ve even seen a couple close calls in recent years as well. UNC Asheville gave Syracuse all it could handle in 2012 and Western Kentucky pushed Kansas to the brink in 2013, but the powerhouses prevailed. We’ll all remember and enjoy the day that a 16 seed moves on to the second round, but it’s far too risky of a pick to lose one of your 1 seeds in the first round.

3. Advancing a No. 14 or No. 15 seed to the Sweet 16

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only three times have a 14 or 15 seed advanced to the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast did it most recently in 2013. Keep in mind that teams ranked this low are from conferences in the bottom third tier of Division I, it’s a high risk-high reward scenario. More often than not the lights are simply too bright for these schools, which is why they have a combined record of 32-362 in the tournament.

4. Picking a No. 4 or No. 5 seed to win it all

The No. 4 and No. 5 seeds have historically had the toughest road to the championship, hence that only the 1997 Arizona Wildcats have cut down the nets as a team seeded 4 or 5. The Wildcats defeated an unprecedented three No. 1 seeds in Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky that March en route to a title. A No. 4 or No. 5 seed will have to face a No. 12 and No. 13 seed in the first round, where they will be the favorite. After that, almost every game can be considered a tossup with their opponent.

5. Predicting all four N0. 1 seed in Final Four

Its only happened one time, in 2oo8 with UNC, UCLA, Memphis and Kansas. The odds of it happening again are 57:1. Since 2000, 17 of the 72 teams to reach the Final Four were a No. 1 seed,. Last year, two top seeds made it (Gonzaga and UNC). It’s also worth noting that since 1985, only 22 of 132 teams to reach Final Four were seeded outside the top 4.

6. Advancing the Cinderella team deep in the tournament 

It’s important to pick a couple upsets early on because they’re bound to happen. Don’t be afraid to slip a double-digit seed into the Sweet 16, just don’t rely too heavily on that No.11 seed making it much further after the first round. Pay attention to the 6 vs 11 and 5 vs 12 match-ups, that’s where we see a lot of the double digit seed upsets. Three No. 11 seeds have made the Final Four (LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011) and only one No. 12 seed has made it to the Elite 8, Missouri in 2012. In the end, the teams you have in the Final Four are what matter the most, keep those guys alive and your bound to place well in your bracket group.

7. Overthinking

We all do it. Once you submit your bracket, don’t touch it. If you look at it a second, third, fourth time then you’re bound to switch some picks that ended up being right to start. Don’t drown yourself in a pool of analytics and stats, it’s nearly impossible to have a perfect bracket, so don’t have that mindset as your goal when picking. In 2013, 8 million brackets were submitted on ESPN and only 47 correctly predicted the Final Four. Have some fun with it and enjoy the process.


Sam Pirozzi
Sam Pirozzi
Born and raised in the greater Boston area, Sam has had a passion for sports his entire life and is a die hard Boston sports fan. Majoring in communications at Curry College, he has experience in all areas of multimedia, including but not limited to: Radio, Television, Writing and play-by-play of various sports. Sam can be found on twitter under the username @SamPirozzi1