The 2013 NCAA tournament field is finally set and all 68 squads seem to have a legitimate chance of making some noise in this event. Even the top seeds aren’t safe, as we witnessed countless teams ranked atop the polls fall during the 2012-13 campaign.
This lack of a dominant team (or teams) certainly makes filling out brackets a tall task this year, as there are no sure things—like last year’s Kentucky squad—for safe bettors to ride.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of tips and tricks to employ when you finally get around to predicting how March Madness will shake out. Keep reading to discover a few tidbits of advice that could make a big difference in winning the big office pool or going home empty handed.
*Tournament stats courtesy of Mcubed.net.
Don’t Sleep on No. 12
As ridiculous as it sounds, the No. 12 seed is often a smart bet to defeat a No. 5 opponent.
In the 112 times the No. 5 and No. 12 seeds have faced off, the underdog has advanced in a whopping 38 contests. While none of these lowly seeded teams have gone on to win a national championship, many have made deep runs that started with this major Round of 64 upset
The candidates this year to shock the world are Oregon (over Oklahoma State), Ole Miss (over Wisconsin), Cal (over UNLV) and Akron (over VCU). We could see at least two of these teams move on to the Round of 32 when all is said and done.
We're projecting Ole Miss and Akron to pull off Round of 64 surprises in 2013.
Check the Midwest
With so many great teams in the Midwest region of the bracket, it’s not only hard to pick a winner to make the Final Four, but it could be downright dangerous to pick that team to win the championship.
Gary Parrish, CBS Sports’ College Basketball Insider, had this to say about the toughest portion of the bracket:
The [Louisville] Cardinals are the No. 1 overall seed and yet stuck with Duke, Michigan State, Saint Louis, Oklahoma State, Memphis and Creighton in their regional. That represents the schools ranked No. 2 (Duke), No. 4 (Louisville), No. 8 (Michigan State), No. 14 (Oklahoma State), No. 16 (SLU), No. 20 (Memphis) and No. 23 (Creighton) in the latest AP Poll, and all of the top-10 seeds -- plus No. 12 seed Oregon -- have been ranked at one time.
Prior to Selection Sunday, it would have been totally reasonable to believe that Duke, Louisville and Michigan State could all wind up in the Final Four. Now that only one can advance, it makes filling out this section downright impossible.
We’re giving the edge to Duke by a nose, but there are so many different directions you can go.
Avoid Massive Upsets
The worst thing you can do for your bracket is to pick big underdogs to upset heavy favorites and not see the situation come to fruition.
What will the biggest upset in this tourney be?
While there are occasionally some shocking results (last year, No. 15 seeds Lehigh and Norfolk State beat Duke and Missouri, respectively), they simply aren’t common enough to throw away your bracket by making one or more of these crazy choices.
No. 16 seeds are 0-112 against No. 1 seeds, while only six No. 15 seeds in history have defeated the two (106-6)—a third of those victories coming in a whacky 2012 tournament.
Don’t predict any upsets until you get down to the No. 14 vs. No. 3 matchup—and even then, the favorite wins 85.7 percent of the time (96-16).
The top seeds in 2013 are powerful teams that can go far and don’t look ready for an upset until at least the Round of 32, so be careful and good luck with your bracket.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.