How To Make a March Madness Bracket

Learn How to make a March Madness bracket as an expert

Every spring, people spend the early weeks of March worrying about putting together brackets, collecting fee fees, and preparing to compete in one of the most important sporting tournaments.

A Popular Event for Bettors

March Madness, the highlight of the college basketball season, is always a popular event for sports bettors. 

Non-basketball players may find building a bracket intimidating. Predicting the lineup of the NCAA Tournament in sports betting is more a matter of luck than skill.

However, learning how to make a March Madness bracket is the first step to flipping that around. 

Laying The Groundwork 

March Madness, also called The Big Dance, is a tournament that involves 64 NCAA, basketball teams. It takes place at the conclusion of the regular season.

A 10-member selection committee determines which teams will be playing in the tournament each year and ranks them according to their performance during the regular season and at conference tournaments. 


This ranking system is called “seeding” and seeds are distributed in four regions with 16 teams. The first seeds have the best chance of winning, while the 16th seeds have the worst. With this in mind, there are several tips to follow when making a March Madness Bracket. 

Gonzaga’s Always A Good Choice

Gonzaga boasts the longest Sweet 16 streak and has been in the Elite Eights in the last three years. It also has the best college basketball team this year.

Also, the Bulldogs have a favorable matchup at 8/9 and two weak teams at the 4- or 5-seeds in their area. 

Reaching the Final Four

Although not everyone is predicting Gonzaga to reach the Final Four, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have the best chance to at least reach the West Regional final. This round would make sense if you want the Zags to lose before the Final Four.

At Least One First Seed Will Go to the Final Four

Some outlets will advise you to select at least two 1-seeds for the Final Four. This makes sense both historically and in 2021.

There has been a 50/50 split in years where there were more than one 1-seed and less than two Final Four. 

This number jumps to almost 95 percent when we consider seasons with at least one 1-seed that have reached the final weekend. You can lose all your office pools if you don’t have at minimum one 1-seed in the Final Four.

Matchups Over Metrics

Metrics can be used to compare 358 teams against one another, but they are also a way to compare two teams against each. You can understand the details of the metrics, but you should focus more on the matchups. 

A Significant Advantage

The better team will have a significant advantage over the other team if they play similar styles. If one team plays a defense that makes it difficult for the other team’s team to shoot threes and that team does so well, this advantage disappears. 

The underdog team with a bigger frontcourt than the “better” team, according to the metrics, should win. This makes it a more appealing upset pick.

If in doubt, you can read up on the mid-majors to gain a better understanding of how they play before you make your final choices. 

A First Four 11-Seed Team Will Go to the Sweet 16

As a guide to March Madness, since 2011, the First four rounds have seen at least one team from each of the eight participating teams reach the second round after beating a 6- or 5-seed in eight tournaments.

Although the 2019 tournament saw all four of the winners lose in round one, it is unlikely that this is an exception.

Follow the Stars

If you’re stuck in a game and really believe it will go down to the wire, you should choose the team with the most trusted players to make the plays when necessary. Stars are those who make a difference in big moments.

Teams win games, but the big players who have shown they can perform well under pressure will make a difference in tight matches.

Back the Defense

Every college team will have the eyes of America. This means TV viewers and crowds will want to see lots of points. In the sports betting ecosystem, there will be a lot of action on teams that score many points.

This could mean that teams with a packed defense may have more value. It is important to remember that you can’t lose any games if you don’t lose points.

Professional bettors favor the under in the first round, since teams are more cautious and don’t want to lose. 

Instinct Makes a Difference 

You can’t protect yourself from this madness no matter how much research you do. If you haven’t been able to see the teams, then read about them and stick with your pick.

Analysts can get carried away with their College Basketball picks and convince themselves that certain matches should be ignored. You can’t make every bracket perfect so do your best with what information you have.

Upsets Are a Part of the Game

Everybody knows that in a single elimination tournament, upsets can occur to any team within the first two rounds.

This is a fact that appears in every college basketball betting guide. In March Madness, the 5-7 seeds are the most popular, in theory, and practice. 

If you are looking to win a bracket pool, it is not wise to rely on chalk alone. You don’t want to take seven double-digit seeded teams to the Sweet 16; however, it is a smart idea to have a few upsets.

Don’t Ignore the Underdogs

The last tip when learning how to make a March Madness bracket focuses on underdogs. While the favorites are in their place for a reason, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the underdogs.

March Madness statistics show that a team seeded seventh or lower has gone to a regional final nine times in the previous 10 tournaments – the Oregon State Beavers and the UCLA Bruins reached the Final Four in 2021. 

Creating Your Own Pool

Now that you know how to create a bracket like a master, perhaps you want to create your own pool. To do so isn’t difficult, and can be completed in just a few steps.

Before you get started, though, be sure to check NCAA Tournament wins by Seed and Final Four Appearances By Seed.

Print and Distribute the Bracket

Print the brackets and send the brackets to your:

  • friends
  • family
  • coworkers

Whoever will participate in the pool. Each person must fill out the bracket with the name of the team that they believe will win each match. Each person should write down their estimate of the final score in the championship game. 

Collect the Brackets

Before the tournament starts, make sure that each participant has turned in their bracket. You can print each participant a copy of the bracket if you wish to make it a bit more fun for them.

Although this is a lot of work, it ensures that everyone is treated fairly and allows everyone to see how they are doing in the pool.

Scoring the Bracket

Each round is worth a certain number of points. You can decide this yourself, but you must let everyone know before the tournament starts. Everyone does things differently so there is no set standard. 

However, each round is typically worth an increasing number of points for a correct entry. For example, one point for round one, two points for round two, etc. 

Finding a Winner

To determine who won the pool, take the number of correctly picked games and multiply by the scoring system for that round. Whoever has the most points wins the pool. 

Tiebreakers in Bracket Pools

In the rare event, two or more people end the season and the pool with the same score, there is a way to settle the tie. Just like there are no rules in scoring, there are no rules with ties.

However, adding up the total points in the winners’ selected games can be a way to determine who wins. You can also determine who has the best overall winning percentage to decide the winner. 

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How To Make A March Madness Bracket FAQs

In most cases, yes. If your team is losing, and you don’t feel optimistic about a comeback, you can salvage a few points for the next round. If you are determined to support your team through the worst, and you lose the game, you will need to select new winners to replace the lost team.

While they can be confusing, brackets are not the same as college basketball prop betting. Props can be used to wager on things such as which college basketball player will score the most points or which conference will win the most games. The bracket requires you to accurately predict the outcome of each March Madness event.

Virtually everywhere, March Madness pools are legal, as long as they don’t involve the exchange of money. Prizes and other items can be used for winners. However, if cash is used, it’s unlikely to cause any trouble, unless the pool is conducted in a business setting.

Division I college basketball teams must either win their conference tournaments or be awarded an “at large” bid by the NCAA tournament committee in order to qualify for March Madness.

Yes. Even if no one correctly picks any game-winner, there is still the chance to select a pool winner by total points.