It's finally here. The bracket is out, the matchups are set. 

Now comes the hard part — picking your bracket.

That’s where we come in.

BRACKET CHALLENGE GAME

The Madness is underway.
CHECK YOUR BRACKET
Yes, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, but you don’t need to pick a perfect bracket to win your pool.

We built this Madness Matchup tool to help you make an informed decision for every matchup in the tournament. We compiled data from every NCAA tournament game played (not including the First Four or play-in games, for seed purposes) since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Fun fact: Through the end of the 2016 tournament, there have been 2,016 such games.

RELATED: Here's the printable bracket and live stream schedule

The Madness Matchup tool works by comparing two teams’ historical win percentages for five categories — the teams’ seed, conference, final AP ranking (once it is released Monday, March 13), mascot, and color.

This is not a forecast of who will win each game in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Rather, it is a way to explore what history can tell us about each current matchup, and a way for you to pick your bracket based on insightful or fun (if statistically irrelevant) data.

For example, No. 1 seeds have beaten No. 2 seeds 53.2 percent of the time, and teams with dog mascots have beaten teams with cat mascots 57.6 percent of the time.

We’ve also written a handful of stories based on this data, which you can find on our Bracket Beat hub, a website dedicated to bracket tips. Here are a few:

 

But if you want to do the analysis yourself, or if you want to see how any of the 68 teams in this year’s bracket match up, the Madness Matchup tool is for you: