Fans were more eager than ever for the 2021 NCAA Tournament to start. Excitement had built to a new high after March Madness had been canceled in the previous year due to the pandemic. This season, some fans look to spectating the games, while others prefer to fill out a March Madness bracket and raise the stakes.
After a long year of isolation, everyone is ready for the next season of their favorite basketball bracket.
But for some, there’s more to basketball than just watching the games on TV. Millions of spectators also partake in a March Madness bracket, where they try to predict the outcome of each game in the tournament. When your success rides on the outcome of each game, you’ll understand the madness of the NCAA Tournament.
What Is A March Madness Bracket?
It’s one thing to predict the winner of a single game. But when you try to guess the outcome of an entire tournament, the difficulty increases exponentially.
Here’s a basic explanation of what the bracket is:
Before the tournament begins, you’ll need to fill out your bracket. In it, you predict the winner of each game in the NCAA Tournament among the 64 teams (if you exclude the First Four play-in games). That means you’ll need to make predictions for a total of 63 games.
You may already know that millions of people watch the March Madness NCAA Tournament—in 2021, roughly 12.9 million viewers tuned into the TV broadcast. But how many fill out a bracket each year? Surprisingly, that number is much higher than the number of average television views; The American Gaming Association estimates that 47 million brackets were submitted in 2021. In the coming years, the number of people who enter a March Madness Bracket is expected to grow as more states legalize sports betting.
But of those millions of viewers, has anyone ever filled out a perfect bracket? The answer is no. This is because the odds of getting a perfect bracket are incredibly slim. The NCAA estimates that the odds are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808—most people don’t even know how to pronounce a number that large (for reference, it’s a quintillion). However, this is based on the assumption that each team has a 50/50 chance of winning a game. If you consider other factors, the odds change to 1 in 120.2 billion.
Before you set your sights on creating a perfect bracket, consider that the odds are far from your favor!
The key here is to be as accurate as possible. Aiming to get every prediction correct is unheard of. Something to keep in mind is the seed numbers of each team. While upsets aren’t unheard of, especially in the earlier games of the NCAA Tournament, higher seeds are typically the favorites. This system is used to pair the better teams with the ones who performed worse. The No. 1 seed is considered the best seed, while the No. 16 is seen as the lowest.
However, if sports betting was as easy as wagering on the highest seeded teams, then millions of people would have already filled out a perfect March Madness bracket. In reality, it’s rare for all top four seeds to reach the Final Four or the championship game. There’s even been an instance where the No. 16 seed won against the No. 1 team! It goes to show that in basketball, anything is possible.
For each game that you predict correctly, you earn a corresponding number of points. Predictions that hold true later in the tournament are weighted more heavily than earlier rounds, meaning you’ll win more points. Points are distributed as follows:
- You only score 1 point for picking the winner of the first round.
- You’ll win 2 points for accurate predictions in the second round.
- 4 points are awarded for predicting Sweet 16 games.
- You win 8 points for correct picks in the Elite Eight.
- In the Final Four, winning games are worth 16 points.
- You earn 32 points for predicting the championship game.
It’s a lot more difficult to predict the champion of the tournament than the winner of a first-round game, which is why points are distributed this way.
In the days leading up to the tournament, you can make any changes to your bracket that you’d like. But once it begins, your choices are locked in. Be sure that you’re confident in the teams that you’re betting on before March Madness begins.
Find a Picksheet
Looking for a picksheet to keep track of your bracket predictions? You can use a printable bracket sheet to start a pool with your office, friend group, or household. Alternatively, you can take your predictions online with one of the major sports betting websites.
Betting on Individual Games
Individual games are the best way to profit from the madness. Instead of predicting an entire bracket, you can make bank off of a few games where you feel most confident about your picks.
Think of it this way: would you rather wager on a basketball tournament that no one has ever predicted perfectly before, or choose individual games that you feel more confident about? Betting on a single game is easier than an entire bracket, especially when you consider the odds of predicting every single game (it’s nearly impossible!).
Finally, don’t be surprised by massive upsets in March Madness! Even if an underdog team doesn’t advance to the final round, they might win a few games earlier in the tournament when most people had expected them to lose. This can create the perfect opportunity for sports bettors to capitalize on.
History shows that anything can happen in March Madness. All things considered, it’s incredibly unlikely to predict a perfect bracket in basketball. Using expert picks from a professional sports handicapper can help you earn more points in the next NCAA Tournament. Kyle Covers offers NCAAB picks; consider purchasing our All-Access package to view our picks and parlays.
Also see Kyle’s NBA picks covers.