The Madness has returned, and with the desire to beat everyone in your office pool, text group, email thread from your days at the alma mater, and all your relatives. But especially your nine-year old niece that picks her teams based on her favorite mascots.
Looking for the sharpest way forward? Read and grow wiser below.
2023 March Madness strategy guide
How the bracket works
There’s 68 teams, and one gets eliminated after each game. So all of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will consist of 67 games. It’s single-elimination, there’s no do-overs, and if you lose you go home.
First one to win six games (or seven if you have to start in the First Four beginning on Tuesday) is the national champion.
There’s a reason why some teams are ranked higher, and that’s based on how they played in a season-long sample. But as November turns into March, some teams are coming together while others are falling apart (or getting injured).
Find the teams that are in good form, match up well with their opponent, and only consider the seed number as a starting point. It’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of how you should evaluate how a team will play in March Madness.
Always pick at least one 12-5 upset
One of the most well-known March Madness trends, but it’s known for a reason. A No. 12 seed has advanced out of the first round in 31 of the past 36 tournaments. That means one of Charleston, Drake, Oral Roberts, and VCU should make it to at least Round Two.
Thanks to some injuries for the Miami Hurricanes, Drake is just a two-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook, and so the bettors have them as the most likely team to advance.
At least consider having a No. 13 seed advance
At least one 13-over-4 has happened in 10 of the previous 14 tournaments. And two of the No. 4 seeds this season in Tennessee and UConn have been extremely inconsistent all year long. So their opponents, Furman and Iona respectively, will certainly have a chance to catch them on a bad day.
A 1-seed wins the national championship more than they don’t
Upsets are fun and all, but cutting down the nets is usually done by one of the favorites for a reason. The top teams have the talent and depth to dodge the minefield of six games where just one mistake means you head home.
The first year the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 8 seed in Villanova won it all. They are still the lowest seed to cut down the nets, as 33 of the 36 champions since have been 3 seeds or better, and 24 of those have been No. 1’s. In March, eventually talent often takes over.