Ready for Madness? Bracket Tips for 2015 NCAA Tournament

Are you ready for the Madness? As you ready a bracket for the office pool, here are tips for picking teams and other info you should know.

You Can't Get a Perfect Bracket, So Have Fun With It

A mathematics professor at DePaul University, Jeff Bergen, has pegged the odds of picking a perfect bracket at less than 1 in 9.2 quintillion (or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808). That's like flipping a coin and having it coming up heads 63 times in a row, he told the Chicago Tribune.

For those with knowledge of the teams, the odds increase to about 1 in 128 billion, he's said.  

If you know nothing about basketball and want to annoy your fanatic best friend, try these methods and see how far you make it.

Choose by mascot: pit the Kentucky Wildcats against the Villanova Wildcats or the Gonzaga Bulldogs verses the Butler Bulldogs. A fan of nuts? Maybe the Ohio Buckeyes should be your selection for the big win.

Choose by color: If blue is your favorite, you could have your pick of many teams. Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Butler all make the top 25 in The Associated Press rankings and have some element of blue on their uniforms. Is yellow more your style? There’s Wichita State, Maryland, Iowa State or West Virginia, to name a few.

Will Kentucky Go All the Way?

Last year’s runner-up Kentucky heads into this year's tournament with a stellar 34-0 record. If the No. 1 overall seed wins the next six games, the Wildcats will have accomplished the first perfect season since Indiana in 1976.

Prizes, Prizes, Prizes

Want a chance to win a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to the 2015 Maui Invitational? Try your hand at the ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge. Other bracket challenges also offer big prizes, such as six-figure cash payouts and a trip to the Final Four.

Backed by Warren Buffett, Quicken Loans was ready to cough up $1 billion for a perfect bracket last season. However, major upsets broke brackets and no one earned that prize. After 99 percent of the brackets were eliminated, the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket still offered $100,000 to each of the top 20 performing brackets. Alas, the contest won't return this year.

Cinderella Is Ready to Ball

Upsets happen. So-called “Cinderella” teams beat out higher seeds and play further into the tournament than expected. That's why we love March Madness.

According to NBC Sports, No. 12 seeds Wyoming, Stephen F. Austin and Buffalo have a shot at making the sweet 16. Looking for another trendy sleeper pick?  How about No. 11 seed Texas, which Nate Silver's says has an 11 percent chance of reaching the elite 8.  That might not sound like great odds, but that's the highest percentage for any team at an 11th seed or lower.  

If you want a quick first-round upset, try No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU.  That's a popular choice among those picking winners on's site.

Last season, who would have thought that No. 7 UConn would cut down the nets? But the Huskies steamrolled through five teams under second-year head coach Kevin Ollie to reach the national championship. Little-known Mercer also made a name for itself in 2014, continuing the Atlantic Sun Conference’s firepower that Florida Gulf Coast started in 2013. 

When filling out your bracket don’t assume that seeds determine destiny. Try picking a 16 or 13 seed to go above and beyond. It happens.

Unlucky No. 16

That said, a No. 16 seed has never won a tournament game in the round of 64, according to a USA Today article. But last season No. 16 Weber State came close, falling to No. 1 Arizona by a score of 68-59.

A No. 15 seed has beaten a No. 2 seed seven times. The three most recent surprises have been FGCU over Georgetown, 78-68 (2013), Lehigh over Duke, 75-70 (2012) and Norfolk State over Missouri 86-84 (2012).


President Obama has tapped favorite Kentucky to win it all.

Obama has filled out a bracket for ESPN each year since he became president. But the only time he correctly picked the national champion was by selecting North Carolina in 2009.

According to ESPN, 9.2 percent of brackets had the same Final Four selections as President Barack Obama last year, making it the most popular combination.

Drop in Office Productivity Can Cost Billions

Last season, the total number of live hours streamed on March Madness Live reached 15.1 million hours, according to job firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The firm also reported that 86 percent of respondents to a 2012 MSN survey said they devote at least part of their workday to updating brackets, checking scores and following games. If that number holds true this year, more than 119 million workers will be distracted.

But all those hours surrounding basketball fever in the office can cost companies lost wages, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported. Between $545.2 million to $1.24 billion could be lost for each hour spent on NCAA tournament activities, given the average hourly earning of $24.78 for private sector employees.

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