It’s that time of year again. When flowers bloom. The sun is shining. You are wearing your favorite spring dresses and getting pedicures for your open toe shoes again.
And no one is noticing any of it. And you keep hearing are the words “march madness” and “brackets.”
To help you survive the madness of march we’ve put together a complete Girl’s Guide to the Madness covering everything from basketball rules, to how to GetReady for the Big Dance Guide and What to wear for the big dance . And now…. how to understand the brackets!
Bracketology is commonly known as the the advanced study of the NCAA bracket.
We have a lot of cover so I’m breaking this into three courses
- Intro to Bracketology: How Brackets Work
- Bracketology 101: Common methodolgies used to develop your own brackets and pick you teams
- Advanced Bracketology: Digging deeper into the theology of the brackets. Aka the do’s and don’ts
First up, Intro to Bracketology: Understanding the Brackets and How they Work:
There are 64 teams vying to be the National Champions. Your mission is to determine which teams will win each game and ultimately become the champs! Easy right?
Yeah, not so much. According to the math majors and statisticians of the world, there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possibilities for winners of in a 64 team, 64 game bracket. That means the odds of you picking a perfect bracket–meaning guessing the winners of every single game correctly—are 9.2 Quintillion, yes, quintillion, to 1. And that is just statistically, that doesn’t even take into consideration the factors of skill, heart, passion, and luck all of which are huge contributing factors to these games.
So why bother?
Because it’s FUN! It’s great when the teams you pick are advancing through the rounds of the tournament and are suddenly in the Elite 8! And just because you don’t guess every game correctly doesn’t mean you can’t still win the office or online pool you are in. Because it is so rare to have a perfect bracket, the pools are set up on a point system where usually you just have to “guess better more than*” the other people in the pool! (*really, how else can you say that?!)
How Brackets Work & Understanding the Rounds:
I’m not going to lie to you. In any Intro class, there are a lot of boring foundations that you need to go over and this is no different. Bracketology Theories are far more exciting the learning about the basic structure and flow of a bracket. But I’ll try to make this as fun and as painless as possible!
Round 1, The Sassy 64: There are 64 teams that play each other to narrow the field to 32. There are four regions of the bracket: East, West, Midwest and South (yes, I know there is no North, don’t ask). In each region there are 16 teams and each team is ranked #1-16, #1 being the best.
Unfortunately, your Top 32 can’t be 16 teams from the East and 16 teams from the West. You have to pick 8 teams from each region. It’s kinda like the Top 36 on American Idol this year. In each round of 12, you had to pick your favorite 3 to advance to the Top 12. It didn’t matter if Group A had all 12 of your favorites and Group B had none, you still had to pick three, and only three, from each group.
Well, because in each region, the teams are paired against each other according to rank, and the whole point of doing the bracket is to guess which team in the matchup is better and will win! Although just getting to pick your overall fave 32 teams sounds like fun too!
Always in the first round: #1 plays #16, #2 plays #15, #3 plays #14 #4 plays #13 #5 plays #12, #6 plays #11, #7 plays #10, and #8 plays #9.
Round 2: The Trendy and Tenacious Top 32! There are 32 teams that need to be narrowed down to the Sweet 16.
This one is harder to explain because there is no guarantee of which seeds will play each other. It all depends on who won the first round. The only way to explain it is: The winner of the #1/#16 game plays the winner of the #8/#9 game, the winner of the #6/12 game plays the winner of #4/13 game.
That looks, and sounds, as bad as Football Speak. Let me show you what I mean on the West Region section of this year’s bracket. These are just examples and in no way reflect what my own bracket may be! I haven’t don’t mine yet and for this I just picked the highest rank team to win all the way through
Now, in Round 2, based on the structure of the bracket,
#1 UConn will play #8 BYU and
#6 Purdue will play #4 Washington
and you must determine who will win that game and advance.
Don’t worry, the bracket is laid out for you so you can easily see the flow of the matchups.
Same concept as Round 2, but more longwinded! The winner of the #1/#16 v. #8/#9 game takes on the winner of the #6/#12 v. #4/#11 game. Get all that?
Based on your picks from Rounds 1 & 2,
#1 UConn was playing #8 BYU and #6 Purdue was playing #4 Washington. If you picked UConn and Purdue to win in Round 2, they would play each other in Round 3
I’m not going to insult your intelligence and continue on with the rest of the rounds. They all follow the same format as Round 3. However, I’ve been doing brackets for like 15 years or something so it’s hard for me to pretend I don’t understand them. I may have missed a lot of key points and I don’t want you to be lost! If you have more questions, feel free to email me at princessjennifer AT stilettosetsports DOT com. I will not make fun of you (much).
Round 4: The Elite 8 fights to be The Final Four
Round 5: The Final Four produces the 2 teams going to The Championship Game
This is what the completed bracket for the West would look like if I always picked the highest rank team to win and wanted UConn to win against the other teams in the Final Four.
Congrats! You are ready to move on to Bracketology 101!