Best Bracket Picks Via Most Respected College Basketball Metrics

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on March 16, 2023
best bracket picks

March Madness gets under way on Thursday after the First Four games lock in the bracket for the round of 64. Until the first game tips off, everyone from experts to complete novices will put on their prediction hats and take shots at how the college basketball tournament will play out. One tool that can help: advanced college basketball metrics. decided to put four different analytics sites to the test, using each one’s rankings to reveal their best bracket picks.

We’ll take a look at how filling out a bracket based purely on KenPom, Bart Torvik, Haslametrics and ShotQuality would look. Then, we’ll dive into some notes on what stands out as far as agreements and disagreements between the various systems.

March Madness: Best National Title Odds For Each Team

KenPom Bracket Picks

Bart Torvik T-Rank Bracket Picks

Haslametrics Bracket Picks

ShotQuality Bracket Picks

best bracket picks

NCAA Tournament Breakdown, Picks With Haslametrics

Comparing And Contrasting The Major College Basketball Metrics

Let’s run through a few major themes we’re seeing in these metric-based bracket picks.

Consensus-ish Final Four

Four teams emerge as clear Final Four favorites, selected by at least three of the analytics sites. Here they are with their Final Four odds.

  • Alabama:
  • Houston:
  • Tennessee:
  • UCLA:

Alabama was the only consensus Final Four selection. They got drawn into a region with a slightly weak No. 2 seed in Arizona, according to the metrics — none of the systems ranked the Wildcats in the top eight. Three of the sites like San Diego State to give them a stern test, though, ranking the Aztecs in the top 15 as an under-seeded squad.

Taking things a step further, the metrics largely concur with the markets on the champ. Three of the systems peg Houston as the eventual winner. Each has them defeating Alabama in the final, albeit with roughly a one-point difference between the two. Not coincidentally, Houston () and Alabama () are the only two teams with consensus single-digit championship odds in the market.

Kansas And Purdue The Weakest Top Seeds

While the metrics have plenty of respect for those two No. 1 seeds, they have largely lower opinions on the other two top seeds. Forecasts largely call for Kansas and Purdue to fall without even making the Elite Eight.

UConn and Tennessee both rated out quite strongly, each in the top eight of every single system and often the top five.

By contrast, Kansas barely made the top 10 of several systems, with a notably low No. 12 tanking by T-Rank. ShotQuality likes Purdue quite a bit (we’ll get to that), but also identifies Kansas a weak No. 1, rating them seventh.

If you’re in agreement with the metrics, look for upset picks against these high seeds early.

Dark Horses To Watch: Iowa State, Creighton, Saint Mary’s

Three teams stood out as lower seeds with real shots of deep runs, according to the metrics.

Iowa State ( Final Four odds) rates out top 20 by T-Rank and ShotQuality. KenPom and Haslametrics are a bit less impressed, and they have Xavier as a borderline top-15 team. But, the Cyclones (seeded sixth in the Midwest Region) may be primed for a run. Note that they also split their season series with Texas, should that matchup come to pass in the Elite Eight.

The metrics like Creighton () even more. The Bluejays, seen by some as a top-10 team entering the season, rated out top 20 by every system and top 15 by all but ShotQuality. Baylor stands in their way, but the analytics were quite low on the Bears. Even the numbers that liked them more have them over-seeded as a No. 3.

It doesn’t show up in the brackets above, but note that Saint Mary’s () garnered a ton of respect from the metrics sites. They have an average ranking of 11th and didn’t come in any lower than 13th. Only the strong support for UConn prevented them from making deep runs in the prognostications. But, should they upset UConn, all of the systems believe they have a real chance to run deep.

ShotQuality On Island With Purdue, Iowa

Whereas the more efficiency-based sites had little respect for Purdue, ShotQuality is quite enamored with the Boilermakers. ShotQuality has them No. 1 with a bullet, notably above UCLA in second. Purdue has championship odds.

The disagreement seems to come at the defensive end. KenPom and T-Rank have them solid but outside the top 20. ShotQuality was considerably more impressed, rating the defense No. 3 in the nation. Opponents did not shoot the ball particularly well from the field or behind the arc against the Boilermakers, as they ranked top 40 in opponent eFG%, which awards extra credit for made 3s. However, it does appear Purdue ran below expectation on free throws, where opponents shot a sizzling 73.6%, 285th in the nation.

ShotQuality was also a rather big fan of another Big Ten team. Their numbers like Iowa to make a shocking Final Four run (). The Hawkeyes rated out sixth in Adjusted Shot Quality.

Again, it comes down to defense. KenPom and T-Rank have the Hawkeyes way down at 167th or worse. The raw stats back this one up. Opponents hit a scorching 36.6% of their 3s and 74.4% of their free throws on Iowa. Both marks ranked bottom 50 or so, and both are subject to a large amount of variance.

Best March Madness Sports Betting Promos And Bonus Codes

UP TO $1,200 BONUS
New User Bonus. T&Cs Apply.
DraftKings Promo: Bet $5 Win $150
PLUS $50 Bonus Bet On Deposit
PLUS Up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
To Claim: Click Bet Now
UP TO $1,250
On Caesars
Stream NFL Games In App For Free
+ get 1,000 Caesars Reward Credits 
+ also get 1,000 Tier Credits 
Redeem for Bet Credits, Hotel Stays, & More!
Use Promo Code: LEGALFULL
$1,050 BONUS
Exclusive Special
BetMGM Exclusive $50 Bonus after First Bet
$1,000 Paid Back in Bonus Bets
March Matchups Special - See BETMGM Review
Use Bonus Code: PLAYBONUS50
No Sweat First Bet
Up to $1,000 No Sweat First Bet
Available on iOS, Android & Desktop
To Claim: Click Bet Now
Bet $1
GET $365
In Bonus Bets
Bet $1, Get $365 Win or Lose
Sign Up, Deposit and Play Today in VA!
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+ 
To Claim: Click Play Now

3 Tips To Win Your Bracket Pools

Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

View all posts by Mo Nuwwarah