Your 2016 March Madness Bracket Needs These Smart Upsets

Statistics show the No. 12 seed isn't the best underdog to pick, despite what conventional wisdom might say.


To win your office's March Madness pool, you're going to have to predict those upsets.

Unfortunately, conventional wisdom is leading bettors astray.

"Find a good 12 seed, because they've won a game in 25 of the last 28 years," an analyst for ESPN said.

"Look at that 12-5 matchup. The 12 seed has won nine, the five has won 11 in the first round," a CBS analyst said.

"Pretty much every year a 12 seed beats a 5 seed. It's the most common upset there is," an analyst told CNN.

The problem is this advice only seems to look at the first round, when wins are worth just a point for most fans' brackets. The deeper your teams go, the more points you'll rack up.

Yes, No. 5 seeds have only won 59 percent of their first round matchups since 2005.

But even when No. 12 seeds win the first game, they don't usually go much further. Fifth-seeded teams, on the other hand, do.

Over the past 11 years, No. 12 seeds, on average, gained March Madness bettors less than a point. Meanwhile, the average fifth-seeded team has been worth over two points on average.

Instead, you might want to watch the 6-11 matchups.

Since 2005, 11 seeds have won more first round games than 12 seeds, and they've actually gained more points for bettors than No. 6 seeds. Simply put, history's shown they go a bit further, on average, in the tournament than No. 6 seeds.

Just don't tell your opponents this. Let them tear up their brackets later.

Statistics in this story are based on scoring the first (non-play-in) round as worth 1 point, the second round as worth 2, the third as worth 4, and so on.

This video includes clips from CBSCNN and ESPN and images from Getty Images.