2024 March Madness Bracket Predictions, Picks, Strategy And Tools

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
March Madness bracket predictions

It’s time to defy March Madness odds, fill out winning brackets, and crown pool champions. Selection Sunday brings us the field of 68, with more bid-stealers than usual invading potential March Madness bracket predictions. So, what are the best bracket strategies? With so many factors to weigh, TheLines.com has compiled tips and tools to fill out your brackets. This includes historical and data-driven modeling via our partners at PoolGenius.

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March Madness Bracket Predictions Tool

Once the 2024 NCAA Tournament field is announced, you will be able to compare matchups and potential March Madness bracket predictions using the NCAA Tournament Predictor below.

Click on the school logos below to select two teams to compare. The PoolGenius models and projections allow you to compare any teams in the NCAA Tournament with two clicks and a single glance. Try it out free below:

How do you make March Madness bracket Predictions?

Carnage Is Likely Coming

Filling out a winning NCAA Tournament bracket requires a combination of research, knowledge, and plenty of luck. It doesn’t matter if you spend 10 minutes filling out your bracket or spend several days studying the field, March Madness bracket predictions always include its share of upsets and Cinderellas.

How many of you out there had No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson upsetting No. 1 overall seed Purdue in the first round last year? We’re talking about a Boilermakers team that was a 22.5-point favorite. Final score was FDU 63-58. How rare is it? No. 1 seeds have a 150-2 all-time record versus the 16 seeds. Both of those upsets came in the last five tournaments.

In 2021, No. 11 UCLA made it all the way to the Final Four before losing to Gonzaga. These are just a couple of examples.

When you start making your picks, a good strategy for March Madness bracket predictions is figuring out which four teams you have going to the Final Four and which team you think has the best chance of winning the national championship. The point values in NCAA Tournament contests increase as you get into the later rounds. The NCAA Tournament futures market is something to consider as well. You’ll see a clear separation between the favorites and underdogs. The odds can factor into your decisions but don’t overweigh them, as there will be plenty of surprises.

First Round Picks & Strategy

First-round games are also important, as each correct pick is usually worth one point. These points quickly add up, especially if other contestants have a busted bracket. Establishing a commanding lead over the field heading into the Sweet 16 can be big, especially if your Final Four is more or less intact.

Don’t ignore upsets, as they’re going to happen. It’s just a matter of figuring out which teams can pull them off. Check out the historical data below that closely examines the seeding matchups.

Bracket Research

Research is key: each tournament is its own entity. Look at each top team’s upset potential. How did they fair against lesser opponents during the season? ESPN.com, for example, has game logs for every team in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Some individuals are willing to dedicate hours researching every game, including First Four odds, in this year’s tournament. But how much research is too much? Teams play about 30 games during the regular season. If you’re doing it for all 68 teams, you’re talking about analyzing some 2,000-plus games.

Look at each team’s record against the spread this season. There have been several games in which top teams have been favorites but ended either suffering a major upset or narrowly escaping with a victory.

In January, Houston – ranked No. 1 in the nation – lost 57-53 to Iowa State. The Cougars were a -2.5-point road favorite. When the two played again in mid-February at Houston, the Cougars were a -8.5-point favorite. They ended up winning 73-65 but failed to cover. Ultimately, the Cyclones upset the Cougars in the Big 12 Tournament.

What this tells us, especially with teams from the same conference, is top teams have a tough time against certain opponents. The data available from conference games will come in handy, especially if there is a chance the schools meet again in the Big Dance.

Historical March Madness data

Sure, there’s plenty of historical data available surrounding the NCAA Tournament. Should you make it your end-all, be-all when filling out March Madness brackets? 

Absolutely not

The 2023 NCAA Tournament, for example, saw all four No. 5 seeds advance to the second round. Most years, the 5 vs.12 games are known for producing some of the most frequent upsets. We also saw a No. 16 seed, FDU, advance out of the first round and an Ivy League school, No. 15 Princeton, move on to the Sweet 16. Traditionally, these situations rarely happen. 

The Team at TheLines maintains comprehensive historical data regarding tournament seeding matchups dating back to 1985. Consider these pages a useful resource while evaluating  your tournament selections: 

Don’t shoot for March Madness Bracket Predictions perfection

Spoiler alert: Your bracket might be busted heading into Final Four weekend.

Almost everyone struggles making it through the first two rounds with a perfect bracket. Instead, when filling out your bracket, the goal should be winning the pool you entered.

If you plan on entering a small office pool with 10 other coworkers, you may want to gauge biases. Does one of your co-workers root for a school that is a 9 seed? Is there a chance he or she will overrate that school and have them advance to the Final Four? This is when you might want to pick against said school in the first round.

A March Madness betting strategy centered around having top-four seeds in all four regions make it to national championship weekend might sound like a great idea on paper, as you’ll likely be backing the favorites, but the approach has flaws. The 2023 Final Four is a great example as it consisted of No. 9 Florida Atlantic, No. 5 Miami, No. 5 San Diego State, and No.4 UConn – the eventual champion. Purdue, the No. 1 overall seed, didn’t make it out of the first round.

The trick is figuring out which underdogs are capable of pulling off upsets. Before making your picks, look at each team’s body of work from the regular season. Did certain teams make things difficult for one of the favorites you’re considering backing? This season, we’ve seen our share of surprises, like the defending champions Huskies losing 85-66 to Creighton. They could meet again in the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s the bottom line: there is no such thing as a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket strategy. It’s called March Madness for a reason.