Information You Need to Know to Help You Build Your Bracket in 2015

Building a bracket is easy.  Building a perfect bracket is effectively impossible, so you are not likely to achieve such a lofty goal. That being the case, with 68 teams, there are over 147 quintillion (147 followed by 18 zeroes) possible brackets (if one only considers the 64 teams in the main bracket, the number drops to just over 9 quintillion). That being said, even building a good bracket is challenging.  It is difficult to imagine teams seeded No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 losing early in the tournament, yet they do, with great regularity.  The challenge is deciding which of (and when) these seeds will lose. However, there are some patterns that have consistently emerged to help you avoid a bad bracket.

In the round of 64, the 5-12 upset gets a great deal of attention. In the 30 tournaments from 1985 through 2014, the No. 12 seeds had a 44-76 record. In fact, in 13 of the past 30 tournaments, two or three No. 12 seeds advanced to the round of 32. What gets less attention is the 6-11 upset. In the 30 tournaments from 1985 through 2013, the No. 11 seeds had a 41-79 record. Moreover, in 12 of the past 30 tournaments, two, three, or all four No. 11 seeds advanced to the round of 32. Collectively, an average of 4.50 teams seeded No 11 or lower (worse) advanced to the round of 32. Also, in 22 of the past 30 tournaments, four or more teams seeded No 11 or lower (worse) advanced to the round of 32. However, an average of 1.67 teams seeded No. 13 or lower (worse) have won in this round, so picking one or two such upsets is prudent.

How should your upsets be distributed in the round of 64? Eliminating the discussion on the 8-9 matchup, which is essentially a toss-up game (the No. 9 seed owns a 61-59 advantage), 23 out of 120 regions (19%) over the past 30 tournaments has had all of the top seven seeds advance. Moreover, in 36 out of 120 regions (30%) over the past 30 tournaments, exactly 6 of the top seven seeds have advanced, while in 43 out of 120 regions (36%) over the past 30 tournaments, exactly 5 of the top seven seeds have advanced. In only in 6 out of 120 regions (5%) over the past 30 tournaments have exactly 4 of the top seven seeds have advanced, while in 9 out of 120 regions (7.5%) over the past 30 tournaments, exactly 3 of the top seven seeds have advanced. Therefore, upsets should be spread thinly across the regions, with the possible exception of one region that you may wish to have "blowup."

In the round of 32, teams seeded No. 7 and lower continue to advance. In 26 of the past 30 tournaments, two or more of these teams have reached the Sweet Sixteen, with an average of 3.47 of these teams reaching this round. In fact, only once (1995) in the past 30 tournaments has there not been a team seeded No. 7 or lower reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Moreover, an average of 1.53 teams seeded No. 11 or lower reached the Sweet Sixteen, and in 26 of the past 30 tournaments, one or more of these teams reached the Sweet Sixteen. Among highly seeded teams, in 20 of the past 30 tournaments, 8 or fewer teams seeded No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 reached the Sweet Sixteen.

The Final Four draws the most attention. The following table gives the probabilities for the number of No. 1 seeds that reach this round.

P(Zero No. 1) 0.167
P(One No. 1) 0.377
P(Two No. 1) 0.319
P(Three No. 1) 0.120
P(Four No. 1) 0.017

It is almost 10 times more likely for a Final Four to contain zero No. 1 seeds than it is to contain four No. 1 seeds. Picking one or two No. 1 seeds in the Final Four is prudent.

Some interesting factoids that may help you set your Final Four:

The odds against one or more No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 571 to 1.
The odds against one or more No. 15 or No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 222 to 1.
The odds against one or more No. 14, No. 15, or No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 113 to 1.
The odds against one or more No. 13 through No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 64 to 1.
The odds against one or more No. 12 through No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 38 to 1.
The odds against one or more No. 11 through No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 23 to 1.  This has happened three times over the past 30 tournaments (1986, 2006, 2011).
The odds against one or more No. 10 through No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four is 14 to 1. 
The odds against only teams seeded No. 3 or lower (worse) reaching the Final Four is 35 to 1.  This has happened only once over the past 30 tournaments (2011).
The odds against only teams seeded No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 reaching the Final Four is 2.34 to 1.  This has happened 11 times over the past 30 tournaments (1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009).
The odds against only teams seeded No. 1 or No. 2 reaching the Final Four is 7.14 to 1.  This has happened 3 times over the past 30 tournaments (1993, 2007, 2008).

Enjoy filling out your bracket and watch the upsets unfold. Let the games begin!

 

bracketodds.cs.illinois.edu ©  2015 - The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
All Rights Reserved.

free geoip