A guide to betting the NCAA tournament

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I spoke with my friend RJ Bell of Pregame.com and he shared with me several interesting thoughts to keep in mind when filling out your NCAA tournament bracket.

First of all, consider how much action will be involved with the 2012 NCAA Tournament: Over $12  billion is expected to be wagered (more combined than the Super Bow!) with $3 billion of the total bet on tournament brackets (over 100 million participants).

Now, here are some specific handicapping tips:

FIRST ROUND picks:
TIP: Pick ZERO #1 or #2 seeds to lose.
#16 seeds are 0 for 108
#15 seeds are 4 for 108

TIP: Pick at least ONE #13 or #14 seed to win.
At least one Top 4 seed has lost in the first round 23 of 27 years
#13 and #14 seeds combined win 18% of first round games

TIP: Don’t be shy picking upsets with #12 through #9 seeds.
#12 seeds have won at least one game 21 of 23 years
#9 seeds are 6 wins above .500 vs. #8 seeds

SECOND ROUND picks:
TIP: Advance #1 seeds into the 3rd round unless very good reason not to.
88% of #1 seeds advance to the Sweet 16

TIP: Keep advancing any #12 and #10 seeds you picked to win in Round One.
#10 and #12 seeds combined win about half the time in Round Two
#12 seeds have more Sweet 16 appearances overall than #7 seeds
A double digit seed has made the Sweet Sixteen 25 of 27 years

TIP: Pick at least ONE upset of a #2 or #3 seed.
Only once in 27 years has all the top three seeds (#1, #2, #3) made the Sweet Sixteen

TIP: Do NOT pick any seed worse than #12 to win in the 2nd round.
Only 6 of 432 teams (1.4%) advancing past Round 2 were seeded worse than #12

Sweet 16 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly three #1 seeds into the Elite 8.
72% of #1 seeds make the Elite 8
(that’s a higher percentage than #5 seeds that win a single game!)

TIP: Advance no team worse than a #11 seed into the Elite 8
25 have made it the Sweet 16, but only 1 has ever advanced

Elite 8 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four.
The Final Four has included exactly one or two #1 seeds 21 of 27 years

TIP: Advance no team worse than a #8 seed to the Final Four.
Only 3 of 108 Final Four teams have been seeded worse than #8

FINAL FOUR round picks:
TIP: Advance NO team worse than a #6 seed to the Championship game.
Only ONE team worse than #6 has made it in last 26 years

TIP: Do NOT advance TWO #1 seeds to Championship game
Only 6 times since 1979 has two #1 seeds made the finals

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME pick:
TIP: Pick a #4 seed or better to win it all.
For 23 straight years the champion has been a #4 seed or better!

Perfect Bracket Odds:
There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets.
That’s the number nine follow by eighteen zeros.
That’s over 9.2 quintillion.

Some examples of just how big this number is:

If everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over ONE BILLION to 1 against any person having a perfect bracket.

If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 TRILLION years to fill out all possible brackets (that’s 20 times longer than the universe has existed).

If all the people on earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take over 43 years to fill out every possible bracket.

If all possible brackets were stacked on top of each other (on standard paper), the pile would reach from the moon and back over 1.1 million times.

All possible brackets (on standard paper) would weigh 90,000 times more than every man, women, and child on earth combined.

Even if a person had a 90% chance of winning each game he picked, his odds would still be 763 to 1 against picking a perfect bracket.

68 vs. 64 teams:

The calculations above assume a 64 team bracket – if expanded to consider 68 teams, multiple the figures by 16.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.