With so many possibilities and matchups, how do you ensure you’re right?

With the March Madness tournament beginning on Thursday, it’s the perfect time to finish off your tournament predictions. But with 68 teams and only one winner, it can be difficult to guess the winner of most of the matchups, let alone the overall winner. 

No one has ever made a perfect March Madness bracket. At some point in everyone’s predictions, they have been wrong. While I can’t guarantee I will make your bracket foolproof, here are some pointers on how to predict excellently and not be horribly wrong.

1. Look at the stats

This might be rather obvious, but it’s very important to look at how teams have performed throughout the season. While simply knowing the teams’ record is always helpful, there are a lot of elements of the game that factor into a single-elimination matchup, including defense, offense and shooting percentages.

How teams have performed in recent games is another important factor. A team with a poor record could have started off slow and ended the season strong. The big takeaway is that this hypothetical team now has a groove and a winning strategy that they might not have had previously. Experienced bracket creators know that the overall record does not always define the skill of the team. So, take note of the last 10 games each team has played.

2. Follow the injury reports

 Something that plays a role in every sport is injuries. Oftentimes, key players can be taken out of play. This could drastically change the way the team plays, especially if the injured player is a starter.

When making your predictions, make sure to remember the key injuries. You might think a strong team is okay, but if their star player is out, you might have to reassess that matchup. 

You might want to consider how long these players might be out. Sometimes players can only be out for a single matchup, or they can be out for the whole tournament. At that point, you have to think about how these injuries not only affect a team’s chances of advancing to the next round but their chances of winning the tournament as a whole.

3. Be reasonable when considering upsets

Everyone loves a good underdog story. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a team widely overlooked suddenly becoming frontrunners. It’s the fairy tale story that everyone loves. But let’s be real, the chances of the worst seeded team winning the entire March Madness tournament is incredibly low. 

Is there likely to be an upset in the tournament at some point? Yes — but nothing too shocking. There are teams that are considered “favorites to win” for a reason. Upsets are indeed possible, but just make sure not to say one of the worst teams in the tournament is going to beat one of the best just because you like them.

4. Remove your biases

Don’t just root for a team because you went to school there or like the school. Also, don’t just pick a winning team based upon a certain player. In order to get more predictions right, you have to get rid of your personal biases.

For example, Mount St. Mary’s basketball is good, but the general opinions show that they are not a real threat to win the tournament. If I were a student at Mount St. Mary’s, I wouldn’t predict that they would make it very far in the tournament, let alone win. That’s because if I want to earn some prediction points, I can’t just pick my school’s team. There’s hopefulness and then there’s blind loyalty. Avoid blind loyalty at all costs.

5. Have a winner picked out

This might seem obvious, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an idea about which team you think could take home the title. If you’re stuck, don’t feel ashamed. After all, there are 68 teams to choose from! However, you should certainly try to pick one team early on in the selection process.

When you decide on which team you think could win March Madness, make sure you’re confident in them. Otherwise, you might seriously hurt your prediction chances. 

Again, I cannot guarantee a perfect prediction bracket by following these pieces of advice to the letter, but you might impress some of your friends with your scores. To make your bracket, click here, and good luck!