Will eventually put this up on the front page as well, but for starters will just do the list in this thread. Some of these may seem like common sense if you want to win a bracket contest, but others I hope to help you out some with a decision or two this year.
First a little preview on why I love this time of the year so much. I used to sit down and do 40-50 brackets and dump them into basically any contest I could find with about 4-5 in cash contests for "real" prizes. But, I have learned a little where to put brackets and how many brackets to make for the time I have. I usually do about 10 or so, but if I have more time I make more. I have won a bracket contest each year the last 4 years and two years I placed in the money in two, so I expect to make money each year. Now lets start the list:
#1....How many brackets to do?
This may seem like common sense, but the more you do the more chances you have. I used to do a ton, but for my time I think that only the contests where there is an entry fee and a prize pool are worth it for me. Brackets take on average about 10-15 minutes to create/write down/ register for the site/ and enter. Because, remember you want to be using all your real info, the only reason to enter is to win a prize and the sites will not give it to you if you screw with them. With it actually taking a fair amount of time to enter a lot of brackets it is almost better to find good pools or contests for the most money/prizes and least entries. Sometimes these contests let you enter multiple times which is always nice too.
#2....Who do you take to win it all?
This is possibly the most important thing to worry about, especially in more classic style contests where the winner matters more. If you are playing in a format where points double each round you should only consider taking a team that is one of the odds on favorites to win it all. If you are playing in a format that rewards the early rounds more or even rewards picking underdogs, you might take a team that is slightly lower in the odds. However, PICK A FAVORITE NO MATTER WHAT. By lower on the odds I only meant maybe 5-10th in the odds. In fact here is my usual rule of thumb if I am doing brackets:
1 Golden Bracket - Whoever you feel will win...lol.
2-5 Brackets - at most top three in odds
5-10 brackets - at most top five in odds
10-30 brackets - at most top 10 in odds
30+ brackets - I would never use a team that is out of the top 20 in odds, and that is if you are doing like 50+ brackets or have some sort of feeling about a team.....but it is just not smart to do it. Even if you are making that many brackets, you can give yourself a better shot by just picking another fav instead of a long shot. Remember if a seed of even 3+ wins it all there will be many many bracket winners who did not have the team winning it all.
#3......Who do you take to win it...(cont)
Two last things to think about when picking a winner are where are you submitting your bracket and how many people are in the pool you are entering. These two things can help you put your brackets in places where they will do the best if the teams you selected do well in that bracket. First think about this..... if you live in South Bend, Indiana and enter a pool, you know that about half the people will probably have ND winning it all. So, if you are entering 20 brackets you send the brackets where you have ND winning it to maybe some pool that is being run in California or something like that. Because that way if ND does well you would be one of the only people to have them instead of one of about half the entries. I hope that makes sense, because it is very important to winning contests. 2nd is how many people are in the contest and how smart collectively are they.... If you are entering a contest with alot of people you probably want to put in one of your brackets where you have a worse seeded team winning it all. If you are entering a pool with friends and only about 10-15 are in it, pick the odds on fav or very close to it. You are going to submit all your brackets anyways, and better team does win it all you have a better shot of winning a small bracket contest than a large one.
Those two rules alone put you way ahead of everyone else if you are making many brackets because one of your brackets are bound to do well.....and if you have them placed correctly you should make money.
#4 Picking a Big upset in RD 1.....
Just dont do it. When you get your bracket, chalk up the 1 and 2 seeds to go two rounds in EVERY BRACKET you make. Again the odds of a one or two seed losing the first game are very small and thus unless I have some crazy feeling I never have 7-10 seeds going past a 1 or 2 seed.
Here was something I posted in 2008...have not updated it, but it can still apply I think.
#5 Picking other upsets in RD 1....
Be very selective picking any team below a #12 seed. #16 seeds are 0 for 88. #15 seeds are 4 for 88. #13 and #14 seeds are less than 19% combined.
I still like to be very selective because you can hurt yoursefl tremendously, but think about this. 9v8 are basically 50%, with I think 9s even winning slightly more. 12s are another seed that seems to do well in the first round. The reason is because the teams seeded at 12 are generally good teams and the 12 vs 5 matchup is historically the 3-6 seeds from power conferences vs the small conference tourney winners. These two teams usually have never met and can actually match up very even. ***When picking upsets I never like to pick one team to upset more than one time. So if I picked a 12 to beat a 5 seed, I would pick the 12 to get upset in the next round. It is just smart to do that once again.
In the end, check the sportsbook and dont pick too big an underdog to win and if you do pick an upset....generally you should pick them to lose their next game (unless they would be the fav somehow) because that way you cover yourself if they indeed did lose the game you predicted them to upset.
Will add to this later tonight or tomorrow.