As the single-elimination tournament that decides the NCAA Division I national basketball championship, March Madness always has the potential to spring plenty of surprise results.
Despite winning the last NCAA Tournament Championship in 2019, not to mention being one of the top college basketball programs in the country, Virginia was sent packing in the First Round this year.
Although they were number four seeds in their portion of the tournament bracket, Virginia lost 62-58 against Ohio, who was the lowly ranked number 13 seeds. This was undoubtedly considered a huge shock so early in the tournament.
Basketball Fans Love March Madness
Since being rebranded as NCAA March Madness, the annual Championship Tournament has only increased in popularity. In fact, it has become a popular culture phenomenon, with tens of millions of Americans attempting to predict the results.
Even non-sports fans are increasingly caught up in all the excitement, making March Madness one of the most popular events of any kind for wagering in the United States. Millions of people also participate in bracket pool contests.
Mainstream media outlets like ESPN host online tournament challenges, alongside rival networks, including CBS Sports and Fox Sports, with free entry for participants and some great prizes up for grabs. That said, making successful predictions is by no means easy. The latest odds are changing as we speak.
Overcoming the Overwhelming Odds
At the time of writing and after the First Round of games, held over 19 and 20 March, top-seeded Gonzaga were +190 NCAAB Tournament favorites at Betway. By the time you read this article, they may have already been eliminated by eighth-seeded Oklahoma in the Second Round.
Such is the fearsome strength of competition amongst teams in March Madness; picking a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket is regarded as being impossible. Well, statistically, it’s not impossible, although Betway also highlighted the difficulty in a recent blog post, estimating the chances of randomly predicting 63 game results at one in 9.2 quintillion. Statistically speaking, there’s more chance of being struck by lightning – twice! If you’re curious, that’s actually one in 9 million.
A little more optimistic and using data from its own Bracket Challenge Game, the NCAA estimated that average participants have a one in 120.2 billion chance of predicting all 63 game results. Putting that into context, there’s more chance of being struck by lightning or winning the lottery.
Shock Results Add to the Excitement
Given that trying to predict entire brackets of results is so difficult, most people betting on games will focus on individual teams and encounters instead. More often than not, the seeded favorites will tend to progress the furthest, although surprise results are still quite frequent.
Sometimes, it can be possible to spot potential shock results with a little careful analysis. Fans of college basketball are typically the most successful at predicting results, looking at everything from team form throughout the regular season to circumstances in the buildup to games.
In another shock result at March Madness this year, number 1 seed the University of Illinois were humbled by 71-58 against Loyola Chicago. The difference between Illinois and Loyola was tactical, as they had a game plan that worked to perfection.
The Last Word on Making Predictions
For anyone hoping to get more of their NCAA Tournament predictions right, success requires more thought than guesswork. Check all the latest odds at sportsbooks, look beyond game results and focus on how they were achieved, and always think about key players,, so you can enjoy playing on the best betting sites and apps.