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Tips To Gain An Edge On Your Bracket

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(credit: CBS) David McCoy
David McCoy joined the WCCO-TV sports team in March 2013 as a report...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Filling out a March Madness bracket is an annual tradition. And we’ve got some tips for you.

Here’s how to win your bracket pool:

First of all, you’re not going to win Warren Buffett’s billion-dollar bracket pool. The chance of that happening is 1 in 9.2 quintillion, but your chances of winning your bracket pool will increase if you listen to these tips.

Only once in the last 35 years has the Final Four been all #1 seeds, so you’ll need to pick at least a few upsets. But how many?

Well, a #1 seed has never lost to a #16, so go ahead and advance those without even looking at the matchups.

Fourteen and #15 seeds have combined to advance five times in the last five years. So pick one of those eight teams, and have them win a game in your bracket.

Pick a #13 seed to win, too. That’s happened in four of the last five years.

Then, pick your two favorite #12 seeds to win a game. An average of two #12 seeds have advanced over the last five years. And since four have made the Sweet 16 in the last five years, go ahead and put one there in your bracket too. Twelve seeds make the Sweet 16 with the same regularity as fives.

There’s been an #11 seed in the Sweet 16 in four of the last five years, so put one there.

7-10 match-ups have historically been an even split, but consider this: In the last three years, only four 10 seeds have won a game.

Eight seeds win slightly more often than nines, but you should pick two of each to advance in your bracket.

If there’s a seed line to bet against, it’s the #7. Only one has made the Sweet 16 in the last five years.

Meanwhile, there’s been four #6 seeds in the Sweet 16 in the last four years.

One last thing: Don’t sleep on the play-in games. Since the First Four matchups were introduced three years ago, at least one of those winners has won a game in the Round of 64. Two have made the Sweet 16. One made the final Four.

Speaking of the Final Four, pick only one #1 seed. Only five have made it in the last 5 years. And then have them win it. Six of the last seven champs have been #1 seeds.

So how do you choose which teams to put your faith in? That’s the billion dollar question. And the fact is there’s no one clear predictor of tournament success. Young teams, experienced teams, hot teams, slumping teams, teams that force steals, teams with elite point guards, teams with high efficiency numbers, teams playing close to home, teams that rebound well — lots of different types of teams win in the tournament.

Point being, your bracket should reflect that too.

But know this: In the last five years, only three teams that failed to make the semifinals of their conference tournament, made the Final Four.

Or you could just ignore all this and pick based on vacation destinations or uniform colors.

It’s estimated that between 50 and 60 million people fill out a bracket and as it turns out, probably illegally.

Free contests are OK, but if you put money in your office pool, that’s gambling. And, according to the Department of Public Safety, which handles gambling enforcement, it’s illegal in Minnesota.

Just making such a bet could be a misdemeanor. Operating a pool could be a gross misdemeanor.

Running a pool that involves more than five bets totaling more than $2,500 is considered engaging in “sports bookmaking” and is a felony.

The Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division says it receives “few complaints about these pools.”

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