The Zen of Bracketology

March Madness 2016 Brackets and odds

The Zen of Bracketology explores the method, predictions and anticipation by fans for the March Madness tournament which happens this week and ends on the 4th of April. 

• The Associated Press Poll weekly lists the teams most voted by fans
• The RPI lists the top teams according to their wins, losses and schedule strength
• Factors such as a team’s road record can predict a team’s success in March Madness

March Madness or the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament is only behind the Super Bowl in popularity in the U.S. At least 64 teams will compete for the title. A championship means more endorsement and alumni money. All of this embodies the zen of bracketology or the study of who will be facing each in the dance. For those looking into online betting, let’s look at the basics.

The win/loss record of the team

The zen of bracketology often gets more attention than the tournament itself. A team with a winning record doesn’t mean entrance into the tournament. Most teams can enter if they win their divisional tournament. Also a strong team with a record of over 50% can guarantee themselves a spot.

The record is one factor that determines a team’s ranking. Higher ranking teams get to play lower ranked teams. In this single elimination tournament every advantage counts. A good bracket makes sure that fans will see the best teams compete against each other.

The Associated Press Poll

Created in 1949, The Associated Press Poll has ranked the top college basketball teams. The weekly poll is based on a points system combined with fan voting. Every sports publication and enthusiast uses the AP Poll for their predictions. More Americans gamble on March Madness than any other sporting event.

Punters from Las Vegas to online sportsbooks in the U.S. look to this poll. Currently power houses University of Kansas, Michigan State and Villanova make up the top three spots. Vegas has these teams’ odds at 17/2, 13/2 and 14/1. Another solid tool for gamblers is the Rating Percentage Index.

The power of the RPI

The Rating Percentage Index or the RPI, is used to rank many sports teams. The system is based on the percentage of wins, losses and playing schedule of teams. The index ranks Universities of Kansas, Oregon and Virginia in the top three positions. Vegas Gambling has Oregon at 18/1 and Virginia at 15/1.

The playing schedule of a team can determine winners often more than their records. A team needs to show their ability to face strong opponents. The RPI is the easiest method for new punters mobile betting to pick winners. The success in March Madness is not always bestowed upon the best records.

Other factors that can determine bracket winners

The ranking system for the brackets doesn’t predict clear results. It is rare for 4 number one-seeded teams to enter the final four. Upsets riddle March Madness and make up the core of its popularity. A moderate performing team in a strong division will outweigh a successful team in a weak division.

March Madness 2016 First Round

A lot more to go… (Photo: AP )

Also a team’s visitor or “Road” record can determine wins and losses. The brackets for March Madness are set up to prevent any team from playing at home. Every team has to win six consecutive games for the title. Most of those teams will be from different divisions. So a team’s road record holds weight.

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