We all want a perfect NCAA tournament bracket.
So we cross our fingers and trust our gut.
But you never win, do you?
What if there were a better way?
1. Fill in your bracket BEFORE Selection Sunday. Knowing the teams actually creates hidden biases.
2. In the first round of the bracket, pick two, three or four #11 or #12 upsets.
In more than 70 percent of the past 30 tournaments, one or more of both of these seeds have advanced out of this round.
3. Don’t disregard teams seeded #13, #14 and #15. Picking one #13, one #14, or both a #13 and #14 to advance is reasonable. #15 seeds are riskier.
In more than 85 percent of the past 30 tournaments, at least one of these teams has won a game in the first round.
In more than 60 percent of these tournaments, at least two of these teams have won a game.
4. Avoid picking a #16 in the first round. It’s impossible to know when one will pull off a major upset.
A #16 hasn’t won a game in 30 tournaments.
5. For your Sweet Sixteen, pick eight or nine teams seeded #1, #2 or #3. A reasonable mixture is three or four #1's; two or three #2’s; and one, two, or three #3’s.
6. Pick one team seeded #6 or worse to reach the Elite Eight.
A #6 or worse team has reached the Elite Eight in more than 83 percent of the past 30 tournaments.
7. The double-digit seed that has the best chance to reach the Final Four is #11.
#11 seeds can avoid playing a #1 seed longer than any other double-digit seed.
8. In the Elite Eight, #1 seeds are most likely to lose against a #2 or a #3 seed. These games are effectively toss-ups.
9. In the Final Four, teams seeded #1, #2 and #3 perform similarly in their winning percentages, particularly when they play each other. These games are effectively toss-ups.
Hold onto your luck.
10. Put one or two #1 seeds in your Final Four.
One or two #1 seeds have made it to the Final Four in 80 percent of the past 30 tournaments.
11. If you would prefer not to put #1 seeds in your Final Four, make sure you have a #2 seed there.
Only once in the past 30 tournaments has neither a #1 nor a #2 reached the Final Four.
12. #1, #2 and #3 seeds win National Championships.
Over the past 30 tournaments, 18 have been won by a #1 seed, four have been won by a #2 seed, and four have been won by a #3 seed.
For more info, check out Jacobson's website Bracket Odds.