Looking to win your office pool or one of those big contests online? This article is all about helping you pick a perfect bracket this year.

I’ve put together several March Madness tips that I’m confident will help you finish near the top. I cover the basic strategies to follow from the start, as well as a full guide to where the upsets take place.

Three Basic Strategies to Help You Win Your March Madness Contest

#1 – Focus on Teams Who Finished Strong

One of my favorite March Madness bracket tips is to look at how a team performed down the stretch.

Focus on  teams who finished the regular season strong.  Chances are they will carry over that momentum into the NCAA tournament.

Rarely do we see teams who struggled over their final games make a deep tournament run.

#2 – Look at Away Records/Winning Streaks

This is an important NCAA bracket tip that often gets overlooked.

While some teams play closer to home in the early rounds, every tourney game is played on a neutral setting. Teams who were able to win the majority of their games away from home in the regular season are often the same ones who do well in the big dance.

You also want to make sure that a team has shown they can string together wins. In order to cut down the nets, you have to win 6 games in a row (7 for play-in teams).

#3 – Check Strength of Schedule

We often put to much focus on the overall record of a team and not enough on who those wins and losses came against.

Make sure you take the time to see how a team has done against the country’s other top teams. Say a team only lost 10 games all year but was just 1-5 versus the Top 50. Chances are they won’t be doing much damage in the Big Dance.

How to Pick 1st Round Upsets When Filling Out Your Bracket

It’s no secret that you need some upsets sprinkled throughout your bracket. The key is knowing when to take chances and when to go with chalk.

We all know a No. 1 has never lost to a No. 16 and rarely does a No. 2 go down to a No. 15. In fact, No. 2 seeds have won 94% of their first round games (120-8). Do yourself a favor and avoid picking first round upsets with a No. 1 or No. 2 involved.

You also don’t want to flood your bracket with upsets involving a No. 13 or a No. 14. No. 3 seeds have gone 107-21 (84%) against No. 14 seeds and No. 4 seeds are 102-26 (80%) versus No. 13 seeds.

The majority of first round upsets come in games involving teams seeded 5-8.

Things take a major turn in favor of underdogs when we get to the 5 seeds. These teams only win 64% (82-46) of their games.

Don’t focus all your attention on the 5 vs 12 matchup. It’s just as likely that a No. 6 will lose to a No. 11. In fact they have an identical record at 82-46 (64%).

You definitely want to have at least one No. 7 falling to a No. 10. The sevens just 78-50 (61%) against the tens.

There’s no real advantage in the 8 versus 9 matchup. This has been a near 50/50 split over the years. In fact, it’s currently sitting at just that, 64-64 (50%).

Simply Upset Strategy

A great strategy for picking upsets early is to look ahead to the next round. Look for games where you don’t think either team will advance to the Sweet 16. Say you really like the 3 seed in a region to make a deep run. This presents the perfect opportunity to gamble on the 11 over the 6.

The most important takeaway here is to not overload your bracket with upsets. Over the last 5 years the lower seed is just 39-121 (24.4%). That comes out to an average of less than 8 upsets per year.

Winning NCAA Tournament Tips: Riding Cinderella Teams & #1 Seeds

We know what to look for in 1st round upsets. What about after that? Find out which seeds are safe bets to pull off multiple upsets and when to call it quits.

The most likely teams to pull off back-to-back upsets are those seeded 10-12. Of the 46 teams seeded No. 12 to upset a No. 5, 20 have went on win their next game. At the same time, 19 of the 46 No. 11 seeds who beat a No. 6 have advanced to the Sweet 16.

As for the tens, we have seen 24 of 50 who beat a No. 7 go on to either beat a No. 2 or No. 15 in the Round of 32.

To give you an idea of why you don’t want to look past a No. 12. Of the 26 No. 13 seeds to pull off the upset against a No. 4, only 6 have managed to win their next game.

Only one team seeded 12 or higher has ever made the Elite 8. Draw the line with your Cinderella’s at the Sweet 16 or make sure you have a backup bracket if you plan on getting crazy.

No. 1 Seeds Don’t Go Down Early

No. 1 seeds have been chosen as such because they are the best that college basketball has to offer.

While we have seen some No. 1 seeds go down early, history tells us you should take at least three No. 1 seeds out to the Elite 8 line and at least two to the Final Four.

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