How To Win College Basketball Contests

For any professional or college sporting leagues, the bracket-style tournament format is always appealing to casual bettors wishing to create a pool, along with some excitement. The best and most anticipated bracket-style tournament format is arguably the NCAA March Madness Tournament. With chances of picking a perfect bracket near impossible, you’ll be highly regarded if you’re able to place in the 99th percentile, not to mention you’ll win your bracket pool as well. In this article, we’ll walk you through some tips to win NCAA tournament style contests.

Number Of Participants

The first variable that you need to account for is the size of your bracket pool, which will lead you to employing different strategies. If the size of your pool is between 2-30 participants, you’ll probably want to stick to picking the favorites. This means taking the overall tournament favorite as the champion while picking the projected favorites for each game. This strategy will allow you to maximize your points earned and since the number of participants is quite small, it’s unlikely that someone else will follow this method to the letter. In theory, this strategy should give you the best chances of winning in relatively smaller pools.

On the other hand, if your pool has more than 30 participants, you’ll need a different strategy. While there is no guaranteed method to strategizing in this instance, the key is to pick the correct champion, since you’ll receive significantly more points during the latter stages of the tournament.

Using Game Theory To Maximize Your Return

Assuming that you’ll need to select the winner of the NCAA championship in order to win your pool, your odds of winning are 1/n, with n representing the approximate number of people who selected the same team. Now, multiply the result by the line (converted to a percentage) on that team winning the championship and you’ll have calculated the true odds of winning the pool based on picking that particular team. The final formula is X(1/n), whereby n is the estimated number of people who chose the team and X is the percentage odds of that team winning the tournament.


In order to illustrate the game theory that we just explained above, let’s use an example. If Kansas is favored to win the tournament at 5-to-1 odds and you’re in a pool of 50,000 people with 65% of the participants selecting Kansas as the champion, using our formula, we get:

(1/32,500) x 15% = 0.00046%

If everyone picks Kansas and Kansas ends up winning, the prize will have to be split among 32,000 people. On the other hand, if, in the same contest, you take Oklahoma to win, where only 1% or 500 people also picked the Sooner, the formula is:

(1/500) x 3%

This results in a true probability in our case of 0.006%. While this does not look great whatsoever on paper, it still provides you with chances of winning that are 13 times better compared to betting on Kansas to win the tournament.

This is how you’d utilize game theory to maximize your return. In most cases, the key is to try and pick the correct champion. While the betting lines will show you who the favorite is, in most cases, these lines don’t reflect the true chances of maximizing a return on your bracket.