March Madness is approaching, and millions of NCAA fans are joining pools and making predictions about which college men’s basketball team will win this annual championship!  Even billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett is in on the fun, offering up to $1 billion for a “perfect bracket,” or an exact guess on wins and losses for each team participating in the championship tournament. The odds of Buffett needing to fork over all that cash are low; even if you’re college basketball’s biggest fan, you still only have a 1 in 120.2 billion chance of building the perfect bracket.

But we’re not going for perfection here… just a bracket good enough to win in your office pool! Check out these three strategies that may help increase your odds during this year’s tournament.

Play it Like Vegas

Sportsbooks are organizations that allow you to make bets on sporting events in person and online, and some of them publish the winning odds for NCAA tournament teams. You can check out a sportsbook’s odds and use those to inform your own bracket choices. Just keep in mind that the sportsbook’s goals are to encourage gambling and make a profit on losing bets, not necessarily to predict the eventual winner.

Consider Mascots – It’s Not as Crazy as You Think

It may seem like a crazy idea to let team mascots influence your NCAA bracket picks, but the chart below says, “hey, why not?” As any sports geek will tell you, there are no irrelevant statistics.

The numbers tell us teams with mythical mascots (think five-time national champion Duke Blue Devils and the DePaul Blue Demons) win the most – 58% of the time. That’s followed closely by miscellaneous, a category that doesn’t help much, but does include mascots like the Syracuse Orange and Ohio State Buckeye. It might make sense to stay away from bears, though. Teams adopting that animal for a mascot had the lowest percentage of wins.

Source: How to Pick Your NCAA Bracket Based on Team Mascots

Team Colors

Yep, what color uniform the players are wearing may be as good as any other indicator when it comes to the NCAA winner -- especially if you don’t follow college hoops closely.

Last year, The Indianapolis Star tracked every uniform color worn by all 64 teams since 1985. Crimson, cream and gray were the colors with the most wins, followed by navy blue and blue. (We’ll just call it a coincidence that the Indiana Hoosiers’ colors are crimson and cream.) 

Filling out a bracket for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is a fun way to participate in the sport and the excitement of this season, yet it doesn’t demand a deep knowledge to win (since it would seem that luck plays a big part). We’re not basketball experts, but we do know that luck shouldn’t play a big part in financial planning! If you know someone who could use an expert in their corner, please put them in touch with us – we’d love to help.


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