March Madness: The Do's and Don'ts for Completing Your Bracket, Presented by SeatGeek
Whether you're just starting your bracket or restructuring it after some extensive research, it's important to keep some more overarching concepts in mind. A lot are based on historical results and the probability of those events happening this time around.
What guideline should you keep in mind as you finalize this year's picks?
Do Advance at Least One 1 Seed to the Final Four
Since 2000, there's been at least one 1 seed in 16 of 18 Final Fours. Overall, 37.5% of all Final Four teams have been number 1 seeds. And, of those, 12 have gone on to the win national championship, with four in the last six seasons alone.
Don't Advance All Four 1 Seeds to the Final Four
While there's no faulting you for advancing your favorite 1 seed all the way, only once (2008) have all 1 seeds made it out of their individual regions during that time. The odds are already stacked against it, but to make matters worse, two of this year's top seeds -- Kansas (16.23) and Xavier (15.01) -- are well below your average 1 seed (18.89), based on nERD (our proprietary metric that measures overall team efficiency by estimating a team's score differential against a league-average team on a neutral court). Since 2000, the average nERD for a 1 seed is 18.89, so KU and Xavier don't stack up.
Do Pick At Least One 12 Seed to Knock Off a 5
Outside of the 2015 Tournament, a 12 seed has won at least one of the four 5/12 matchups in each season dating back to the 2008 big dance. In fact, since that year, 12 seeds are 18-22 with at least two advancing in one tourney six times in 10 years. Last year, it was Middle Tennessee shocking Minnesota in the Round of 64. According to our numbers, the New Mexico State Aggies are the 12 seed to target this March.
Don't Advance a Double-Digit Seed to the Final Four
Over the last 18 tournaments, only three times has a team with a seed of 10 or higher made the Final Four. Of course, we're not denying that it's possible, but it's highly unlikely. Furthermore, not one of those three teams was seeded higher than 11. You can be contrarian, but don't get too crazy with your upset love.
Do Trust Kansas as a 1 Seed
The Kansas Jayhawks have now made 29 (!!) straight NCAA Tournaments under the combination of Roy Williams and Bill Self. On top of that, only twice have they been lower than a 4 seed, and they've been a 1 seed for 13 of those appearances (8 under Bill Self).
In recent years, the Jayhawks have had some early exits, but they have been really reliable as a 1 seed., especially lately. As top dogs the past two tournaments, they've won their first three games by an average of 24 points. If we look beyond Self's 1-seeded teams, Rock Chalk is 31-11 with point differential of 11.6, not to mention five more Elite Eights and four Final Four appearances. Don't be afraid to differentiate from all the Villanova love on the 1 line.
Don't Overlook This Year's 3/14 Matchups
Since 2000, on average, 3 seeds possess a nERD of 14.58, and 14 seeds come in with an average nERD of 4.74. Accordingly, 14's have only won a mere 21 of 132 first-round games over this span -- it just makes sense.
But this year could be different. Outside of the Michigan State Spartans (17.23 nERD), the 3 seeds are all right around average. Tennessee (14.85) and Texas Tech (14.69) are above the average mark with the streaking Michigan Wolverines (14.40) coming in marginally below it. On the flip side, two of this year's 14 seeds -- Montana (7.01) and Bucknell (4.92) -- are above average 14 seeds, but that's not even counting the always dangerous Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (4.10).
If you're picking one of the four matchups, Montana is probably the way to go. Our numbers give the Grizzlies a 14.99% chance of pulling the upset over the Wolverines and advancing to the Round of 32.