It is about that time of the sports calendar where we enter in our “winning” brackets with our office colleagues, dorm mates, family members, and so on to compete against one another. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of an edge in your respective pools?! Hell yeah it would be! Well hopefully I can provide that for you in this discussion.
Filling out your bracket can seem like a daunting task to say the least. As you look at all of those empty bubbles you must fill out and which of the 64/68 (I say 68 because of the new formatted play-in games) teams to scratch in, don’t fret. Let’s take it one round at a time – much like a boxer. Before we get started, pretty please do not ever choose a 1 or a 2 seeded team to get upset in round 1. Why? well for starters, a 1 seed has never been upset and as for those 2 seeds, they have a 94% win rate. Just don’t even bother. So there, now you have 8 of your 64/68 teams scribbled in.
The Round of 32: Now, you are free to choose who you wish… within reason. Every team is now vulnerable. In this round you want to be weary of teams that possess one of two (or both) attributes. First, be cautions when choosing teams to advance that tend to foul a lot as free-throws can become major points in tournament games. Second, don’t fall in love with a team that relies heavily on the 3-pointer. These types of teams have games where they go cold and it very well could be in the round you may choose them to advance. NOTICE: These rules of thumb listed above may not only pertain in the round of 32. Rather, it is when you should really begin to evaluate these types of statistics.
The Sweet 16: In the Sweet 16, you really want to dive into teams’ “created possession margin.” This factor can be calculated using this formula: (REBOUND MARGIN) + (TURNOVER MARGIN) = CREATED POSSESSION MARGIN. It’s that easy. You also want to favor teams that are efficient when they shoot. The name of the game is score more points than the other team, right? A good rule of thumb when evaluating your remaining picks is to look for teams that hover around these three statistics: FG% >45, 3P% > 36, and FT% > 71.
The Elite 8: The Elite 8 strategy is a bit less overwhelming in terms of all of the analytics and what not. This round asks more for the bracketers’ (yourself) input and better judgment. When choosing who you want to be represented in San Antonio for the Final Four, make sure you are doing everything in your power to take teams that display as few weaknesses as possible. You also want to keep in mind the conferences from which each of your remaining teams represent. For instance, did one conference demonstrate a power-house factor throughout the season that strengthened a team compared to the other.
The Final 4: By this round, hopefully you have a pretty good idea of who you want winning it all. If not, don’t worry. Let’s take a look at another statistical factor that can be of use. PPS (points per shot) encompasses how many points a team makes per shot attempt. Consider this, team A hovers around 1.37 PPS is facing team B that holds a 1.24 PPS. If team A and team B each took 70 shots that game then obviously team A would come out victorious (baring these stats hold true).
***I would like to give a special thanks to Andrew Clark and his book titled Bracketeering
CLEMSON (+4 1stH) vs. VIRGINIA – Pick = Clemson
KANSAS ST. (+7.5) vs. KANSAS – Pick = Kansas St.
TEXAS TECH vs. WEST VIRGINIA (-1 1stH) – Pick = WVU
ARKANSAS vs. FLORIDA (-4) – Pick = Florida
As always, good luck today and this March of college hoops!