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College Basketball: Filling out Your March Madness Bracket

The biggest event in sports history is just around the corner. March Madness is what you’d get if you had 68 teams competing for the Super Bowl. People will be betting over twice as much money on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament than the Big Game, and right now, millions of people are busy filling out their March Madness brackets. It’s a tradition that stretches back at least 40 years. If you haven’t already started, we’ve got a Tournament bracket ready for you to print off and complete.

One of the easiest ways to fill out your bracket is to pick the projected favorite in each matchup. But a lot of people will be doing the same thing, and if you end up winning your March Madness pool, you’ll probably have to split your prize money several ways. It’s usually a better idea to identify the best of the so-called Cinderella stories, the underdogs with the best chance of pulling off an upset in the opening rounds – and maybe even reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Into the Blue
Most of those upsets will come from teams seeded 10, 11 or 12 on the March Madness bracket. Of all the teams who have defied the odds the past 15 years, 76% of them were in this zone, including 27% from the No. 12 seed. This is the sweet spot for Cinderellas; you usually get a solid mid-major champion taking on a dubious at-large team from one of the power conferences.

This year’s hot No. 12 figures to be a toss-up between the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks, who take on the No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers in the East Region, and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, who are matched up in the South Region with the No. 5 Minnesota Golden Gophers. But you could also make a case for the Princeton Tigers in the West. They’ve got a winnable game against the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Don’t overfill your plate with upset specials, though. Most of the favorites will win, and by the time you get to the Final Four, you should be looking almost exclusively at teams seeded 1, 2 or 3. There are lots of quality programs to choose from this year, so sharpen those No. 2 pencils, and best of luck with your March Madness bracket.

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