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One of the greatest sporting events is the annual college basketball tournament. The event crowns a champion in three weeks after 68 teams are placed in a tournament field. It has become a spectacle for all fans for various reasons, including those who place March Madness bets.


The fact that the tournament is held in three weeks and is condensed to be only played on weekends is a huge draw for television ratings. It nets the National Collegiate Athletic Association more than $1 billion. The television contract alone with CBS is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.


The NCAA’s sole purpose is to govern its member schools, run their national championships, and then distribute the profits to its member schools based on the systems it has set up. Does it stand to benefit from the bigger schools in the field? Sure. But the great part about the tournament is every team in every conference has an opportunity to win the national championship at the start of the year.


Fans enjoy it because there is seemingly a small school that goes on a Cinderella run every other year. Take St. Peter’s, a small New Jersey school that went to the Elite Eight and slayed Kentucky and Purdue along the way. Not many people had heard of the Peacocks, and applications for enrollment went up.


But how does someone predict a team is going to go on a run like that? Here are a few tips.

Looking at quadrants

Data can be extremely helpful in determining winners, especially since that is how the tournament selection committee will decide which bubble teams get in and which will play in a different event or stay home altogether.


One of the things people look at is NET rankings, which replaced the RPI in the 2010s. It is not enough to look at NET rankings alone but use those NET rankings to see how a specific team fared in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 games. 


There are different breakdowns of whether it is a road game, played on a neutral court, or a home game. But these quadrant records will show how often a team played elite or very good competition and how they fared.

Team strengths

Two other data points are the strength of the schedule and the strength of the record, which is the compilation of the opponents’ records. This is another way to tell how many difficult teams a program played, mainly geared toward the non-conference record because most conferences will wash themselves out. But it could show how competitive a conference was out of conference.


Breaking down individual matchups to see how one team stacks up versus another is key once the brackets are out. But those placing long term bets should look at teams with an efficient offense on field goals, 3-point shots, and free throw attempts combined with great defensive efficiency.


This is particularly important because teams could score many points or be low-scoring, but it is due to pace as opposed to how efficient they are when they score. Picking teams who are very efficient in certain areas is often profitable.


Looking at teams from smaller programs, they typically need to have mostly juniors and seniors who have played together. These upperclassmen programs are important because of the chemistry they have developed in their coach's offensive and defensive systems.

Other metrics

Looking at how a coach has performed in March Madness is key. Even if they have changed schools, the coach likely had success by winning a game or two in the NCAA Tournament at a smaller school before being elevated. It shows they have sound principles, can coach well out of timeouts, and can build a roster for their strengths.


There are the often talked about recruiting important rankings, too. This is an indication of how talented a team is and if there is a star on a smaller team from someone who opted for more playing time. The adage is that a team needs two or three future NBA players to win the national championship.


Hopefully, these tips will lead to future success.