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Expert March Madness 2024 Bracket Tips to Win Your Challenges

For many, March is the best time of year. We're not talking about Saint Patrick's Day or even the start of spring. It's because college basketball diehards and casual fans alike can enjoy some of the most exciting days on the sports calendar, with the frenetic, high-stakes games of the NCAA's March Madness tournament.  

With March Madness comes the fun (and potentially lucrative) bracket challenges, where you can square off against friends, family, coworkers, and millions of strangers online, all looking to choose as many games correctly as possible. But picking a winning bracket isn't easy, even for knowledgable hoops fans. Let's take a closer look at some of the top March Madness bracket tips that could have you cutting down your own championship nets at the end of this tournament.

Respect the Top-Seeded Teams

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While we won't get a look at the exact bracket until Selection Sunday, a few days before the tournament begins. But it's safe to assume a few teams are all but certain to make it, including top-ranked squads like Purdue, UConn, North Carolina, Houston, Arizona, and Tennessee. No matter who ends up as a one- or two-seed, it's vital to remember these teams earned their top spots and will likely be formidable forces throughout. According to the NCAA, about 90% of tournaments have seen one to three one-seeds in the Final Four, while two-seeds are also reasonably common. Still, strange things can happen, like they did in 2023 when no one seed made the Elite Eight for the first time in tournament history. 

Embrace Upsets

Outside of choosing the right powerhouse top teams to go the distance, the most critical factor in how to win a college basketball bracket challenge is picking the right upsets. Each tournament averages around 12 upsets per year, so make sure to include them in any bracket. This doesn't include games between teams seeded eighth and ninth, which are generally considered toss-ups. To be sure, it always comes down to the teams themselves, but certain lower seeds have tended to upset top-ranked ones more often. Yahoo! notes 10-seeds upsetting 7-seeds is the most common, with 11 over 6 and the notorious 12-seed over 5-seed upset not far behind. 

Stay Grounded with Your Upset Picks

It may be fun picking upsets and thrilling to root for underdogs, but you've got to do it smartly if you've got your eyes on the top prize. A USA Today analysis found just 11 times where 15- or 16-seed beat a 1- or 2-seed. Upsets are also more likely to happen in the early rounds, as opposed to later ones, where talented teams are locked in after several games. Having said that, underdogs like Florida Atlantic and San Diego State made the Final 4 in 2023, so the shelf life on upset runs are certainly extending. 

Consider the Size of Your Bracket Pool

An often underrated factor in how to pick your March Madness bracket is how many people you're competing against. In a large pool, you'll likely need to make more (correct) upset picks to separate yourself from the pack. All it may take is one big upset to distinguish yourself and put your bracket in a good place to compete for the top spot. If you're only playing against a handful of friends, you can pick a bit of a "chalkier" bracket, as having correct picks is more important than standing out. 

March Madness 2024 Bracket Dates to Know

March Madness truly kicks into gear on Sunday, March 17th. That's Selection Sunday, when the final bracket is revealed and teams on the bubble learn whether they've made the cut. The "First Four" play-in games are held on March 19th and 20th. The latest that most challenges allow you to submit your bracket is when the tournament officially begins with the First Round on March 21st and 22nd, followed immediately by the Second Round on March 23rd and 24th. The remaining teams get a few days off before the Sweet Sixteen games on March 28th and 29th, with the Elite Eight squaring off on March 30th and 31st. There's then a week to build anticipation for the Final Four on April 6th, with the tournament capped off by the National Championship on April 8th

Available 2024 Bracket Challenges

It's easy to set up or join a bracket challenge hosted by a wide variety of news organizations and other groups. These include ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, and even the NCAA's own bracket game, among others. Each has its own scoring system and rules, so consider your choices carefully. Many of these sites also offer their own stats, tips, and picks for how to win March Madness bracket challenges for those who want to do extra research. 


Stay Cool & Comfortable Through the Madness with Championship-Caliber Collegiate Apparel

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Whether you're poring over stats looking for an edge or just looking to root on your alma mater or favorite team, March Madness is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year for basketball fans. Enjoy this year's tournament in style and comfort with Cutter & Buck’s college apparel collection, filled with versatile, high-quality products sporting your school's logo and colors. From outerwear to layering pieces and sophisticated casual apparel, there's something for every college basketball fan at Cutter & Buck.