This March, no team is safe from an upset. In a word, this college basketball season has been: unpredictable. There have been five different number ones this year from Indiana to Gonzaga, all of whom have been upset at one point this season. If this tournament is anything like the regular season, then March will truly be filled with madness. The question for everyone filling out brackets this March, then, is how to pick an upset. Here are some tips.
Important to know:
*An upset is defined when there is a gap of at least four seed positions between opponents
***All stats are from 1985-2010
Most upset match-ups occur in the 1st and 3rd rounds
-Upsets by round, from 1985-2010:
Checklist for picking a Cinderella:
- Stay with seeds higher than a 13th seed. Every once and a while a 14th or above might bust your bracket but overall, it isn't worth risking your bracket on. These teams are 22-309 from 1985-2010 against teams whose seed is four or more greater than theirs.
- Don't knock a top seed out until the Elite Eight. When a top seed has faced a possible Cinderella in the first three rounds, they have survived the upset 243 times out of 262 games. Those are tough odds to go against.
- In the first two rounds, don't pick any possible Cinderella who scores less than 65 points per game and has an average margin of victory of less than 3.5 points per game. Teams that don't fit these requirements are 17-63 (.212), while the teams which do fit this have a winning percentage of .320.
Picking Round 1 Upsets:
If you're following the guidelines for not picking a seed lower than a 13 to be a Cinderella, then the match-ups that you should be focused on are 4 vs. 13, 5 vs. 12, and 6 vs. 11.
- 6 vs. 11: 11 seeds with winning percentages above .600, who score at least 73 points a game, and beat their opponents by seven or more points, are 23-18. All other 11 seeds are 10-53.
- 5 vs. 12: 12 seeds need to have been to the previous dance and get more than 48 percent of their points from the frontcourt. These teams are 16-8 while all the other 12 seeds are 19-61.
- 4 vs. 13: 13 seeds are much more complicated and you will need to do a little research in order to see if this year’s teams match the criteria. To find out what 13 seeds need to do to win...
Check out Peter Tiernan's article “The Anatomy of an Upset.” In this 9 page document, Tiernan goes even more in-depth on the statistics behind picking an upset. Although it was written in 2011, the statistics are still very accurate and the article is a great source for helping you have the best bracket. http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/story/14811387/bracket-science-upset-anatomy