A Beginner's Guide to March Madness

A Beginner's Guide to March Madness

Until recently, I didn’t know much about March Madness because I do not attend a school that ever qualifies for it and I am not a big sports fanatic. However, I did notice that people hype it up every year and have a good time filling out brackets and placing bets on their favorite teams. After being encouraged by a few friends to fill out a bracket, I decided to do a little research first. I found out that all in all, there is no wrong way to fill out a bracket.

There are some trends that tend to occur that are surprising to experts and fans and many claim that they have analyzed them to know for sure who will win the championship, but it is impossible to know. That being said, if you’re a beginner, here is all you need to know in order to fill out a bracket and sound like you know what you are talking about when discussing it with friends, family, colleagues, and/or peers.


Before learning how to fill out your bracket, it’s important to understand some terminology that will for sure come up in conversation, online and on television.

Matchup: one team versus another team.

Seed: How a team is ranked in the tournament. The highest ranked team going into the tournament has a low seed number. For example, the number one team in each conference has a seed number of 1.

Upset: When a lower ranked team beats a higher ranked team.

Conferences: The regions of schools which participate in March Madness.

Creating a Bracket

The first step in creating a bracket is to go to www.ncaa.com/march-madness. Here you can make an account and fill out a bracket. You begin by selecting which teams you think will win in the first round matchups. The top-ranked, or seeded, teams will have an advantage and play lower seeded teams. The number next to each team indicates how they are seeded.

As you move on to each round, remember that upsets occur. At least a couple top-seeded teams will lose to lower seeded teams. When filling out your bracket, it's good to include some upsets and cheer for an underdog team. While it’s hard to tell which underdogs will prevail, just use your best judgment.

If you’re having trouble picking a team that’s pretty evenly ranked to move on, Sporting News has identified some strategies that may help. They suggest choosing the team with blue in their colors or the most blue in their logo/uniforms. A lot of schools’ colors include blue, therefore statistically, most of the March Madness champions have been blue.

Lastly, if you’re still having trouble choosing a team to win in a matchup, you could always choose the team with the fiercer mascot. For example, if in the first round, Wright State Raiders (or wolf) play the University of Tennessee, whose mascot is Smokey the dog. A wolf is much tougher than a domesticated canine, therefore Wright State could be chosen to beat the University of Tennessee.

Like I said, there is no wrong way to fill out a bracket. My suggestions might not be the most strategic or team-based, but they can be considered if you are a newbie to March Madness and college basketball in general. Remember, even the most knowledgeable basketball fans can do poorly on a bracket, so no matter how much you know, fill one out and have fun with it!

By Lauren Haan. From Uloop.com, Online Marketplace for College Life.

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