Expert Bracket Picks Via Most Respected College Basketball Metrics

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
best bracket picks

Selection Sunday is over, and March Madness odds have populated the board. That means it’s time for an annual tradition at TheLines: filling out NCAA tournament brackets with the best expert bracket picks. Using advanced college basketball metrics and tracking systems, we can take a look at which teams might be undervalued in March Madness.

Once again, we’ve filled out brackets based purely on how KenPom, Bart Torvik, Haslametrics, and ShotQuality rate each team. You can peruse those and use the tool below from PoolGenius to fill out your own bracket in hopes of scoring big this season.

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March Madness: Best National Title Odds For Each Team


Connecticut Huskies

CONN

Purdue Boilermakers

PUR

Haslametrics Bracket Picks

KenPom Bracket Picks

Bart Torvik T-Rank Bracket Picks

ShotQuality Bracket Picks

Tips For Making The Best Bracket Picks

Comparing And Contrasting The Major College Basketball Metrics

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

UConn, Houston, And Purdue: The Clear Powerhouses

The college basketball metrics mostly agree that No. 1 seeds UConn, Houston, and Purdue are the teams to beat this March. They occupy the top three in nearly every set of expert bracket picks and are expected to advance through their regions. Best Final Four odds:

  • UConn:
  • Houston:
  • Purdue:

Only ShotQuality has any reservations, giving UConn the side-eye. It doesn’t trust the Huskies’ defense, ranking it 41st (other metrics all have them fringe top-10). ShotQuality thinks the defending champs “should have” 10 losses rather than three. None of the rating systems were very impressed by the level of play the Big East produced this season.

Of course, Houston and Purdue have their own question marks. The Cougars no-showed in a blowout loss to Iowa State that ended their regular season. And Purdue’s first-round flameouts have become the stuff of legend. The Boilers bowed out to a double-digit seed in each of the past three seasons, including a shocker to 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson last season.

UNC: The Weakest No. 1 Seed

By contrast, the metrics do not believe in North Carolina at all. All of the numbers see the ACC regular-season champs as a borderline top-10 team, and all expect Arizona to ultimately emerge from the West.

UNC certainly looked like a pretender in dropping its season finale to North Carolina State. They allowed the Wolfpack to spend almost the entire second half leading in an 84-76 loss.

North Carolina’s path to the regional final could also be treacherous, with Saint Mary’s, Alabama, and especially Michigan State largely seen as stronger than their seeds.

That will open up some interesting possibilities when filling out bracket picks for the West. If you’re leaning chalk in the other regions, you could dig deep for a hidden gem here with the expectation of some chaos. This will give you a great opportunity to differentiate your best bracket picks from the pack.

Iowa State And Auburn Got Screwed

With the exception of ShotQuality, the analytics sites all rate Iowa State and Auburn as top-five teams. Yet, none of their best bracket picks see these teams making the Final Four due to landing in the East with defending champions UConn. They’re seeded second and fourth, respectively, there.

However, this tough draw also creates possible opportunities for bettors and bracket-fillers alike.

With everyone likely to gravitate toward the Huskies as they continue steamrolling the opposition, finding a March Madness upset pick at low ownership brings the chance for a nice contrarian play.

Bettors who believe in the metrics can get big numbers on Iowa State () and Auburn () in futures markets.

It’s an enticing way to take advantage of a tough draw. You can’t generally get top-five teams at these sorts of prices regardless of the sport.

Dark Horses To Watch

A few teams stand out as clearly under-seeded by most or all of the metrics. Can these higher seeds make some noise as March Madness Cinderellas?

BYU earned top-20 ratings from Haslametrics, KenPom, and Torvik. ShotQuality was even more impressed, slotting the Cougars ninth. They get a pretty friendly first-round draw against Duquesne, and then they’d likely face an Illinois team that’s hot but looks over-seeded at No. 3.

Clemson has to be cursing its luck after drawing a New Mexico team seeded No. 11 but boasting top-30 metrics. The Lobos are favorites, and each of the analytics sites is on board with that.

Nebraska and Michigan State did enough in the Big Ten to generally rank in the top 25, but the seeding committee didn’t care. The Huskers got an unfortunate draw and look like second-round fodder for the Houston machine if it can get back on track, but Tom Izzo’s bunch may make for an interesting Cinderella. The Spartans get the aforementioned weak No. 1 Tar Heels and have a chance for another deeper-than-their-seed journey.

Texas Tech and Colorado also rated much better than their seeds. Colorado, in particular, is as high as No. 20 (Haslametrics) and boasts multiple NBA prospects, including Cody Williams, who was once projected No. 1 overall in some spots. However, they have to get through First Four odds to get their run started.

ShotQuality was less impressed with the Big Ten and more impressed with the SEC, favoring Texas A&M and Florida as under-seeded options. Florida may have to face Colorado in the second round. The winner may find themselves in a decent spot if Marquette star PG Tyler Kolek hasn’t healed from his oblique injury.

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