Hello all, nice to have March Madness back again this year! Really missed it last year. I’ve run the numbers CPP style again this year and I’m happy to share it all with you. In this analysis, each team and round has a Win Probability (courtesy of Fivethirtyeight.com) along with a percent picked (what percent of people picked the team to win). The thing to do is to find teams with the highest win probability with the lowest percent picked.
For bigger pools, you need to take more risk and pick teams with lower percent picked and take a chance with a lower win probability. For smaller pools, it’s the opposite. Stick with higher win probabilities.
I’ve called out some picks in the Championship round and the First Round:
The favorite pick is Gonzaga with a 27% win probability and 45% picked. However, the best value pick is Baylor, who has about half the chance of winning (13%) but only 8% of the people picked them. If you can get lucky and have Baylor win it, you’ve beaten out 92% of the crowd and have a good shot at winning the bracket. This happened in 2019 when Virginia won it all with a win prob around 15% and Duke was the team most people picked. If you pick Gonzaga, you probably have to make a few other upset picks in previous rounds to win it.
If you want to roll the dice, Iowa (6%, 2%) and Houston (5%, 2%) have lower win probabilities, but if you get lucky and win no one else picked them.
I’ve categorized some picks into three categories: Don’t overthink, Light Sleepers, and Deep Sleepers.
Don’t Overthink (just go with the favorite, others are trying to be cute and picking an underdog here):
- Colorado (70% win probability, only 51% picked)
- SDSU (61%, 56%)
Light Sleepers (a little risky, but reward is there if you hit):
- Rutgers (58%, 39%) – They’re actually a great value, a 10 seed but favored to win the first round
- MSU/UCLA (46%, 35%)
- Missouri (43%, 39%)
- St. Bonaventure (40%, 32%)
Deep Sleepers (when you want to have fun and go for the upset):
- Colgate (24%, 11%)
- North Texas (19%, 7%)
Here’s the entire chart for you to check out. For each round, look up each team and see what their win probability and % picked are relative to each other, and make your decision!