It's that time of year again. College football is over, we're reaching the midway point of the basketball season and you're already wondering what your March Madness bracket will look like come April.
As a scoring referesher, this is how our bracket works. Players are scored on each winner they pick. The points climb in each round, like this:
|Round 1||Round 2||Sweet Sixteen||Elite Eight||Final Four||Championship|
|Points received per correct winner||1||2||4||8||16||32|
Nobody, ever, picks every game correctly. That means that bracket didn’t even reach the second round before busting. In 2014 and 2015, someone got a bit closer to making it through the first round, predicting 31 winners correctly before busting.
Still, no one has made it to the second round without an incorrect selection in the last seven years of our online challenge.
Picking the Final Four can be daunting. Fewer than 1 percent of players last year -- just 49 out of millions -- picked all Final Four teams (eventual champ UNC, Gonzaga, South Carolina and Oregon). Not one player picked all four in 2011, when eventual champion Connecticut (a No. 3 seed), Kentucky (4), title-game loser Butler (8) and VCU (11) played in Indianapolis. That's a big reason the average score was so low that year.
|Year||Average Bracket Score|
In 2013, no one got all the semifinal teams correctly. Louisville, Wichita State, Syracuse and Michigan made their way to Atlanta. While top-seed Louisville was probably the easiest selection of the four. The rest were much longer shots. Wichita State reached the Final Four that year for only the second time in program history. Syracuse hadn’t made it that far since they won the National Championship in 2003. Michigan was returning for the first time since 1993. Michigan and Syracuse were No. 4 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9.
The “easiest” bracket of the last seven years was 2015. A whopping 1.6 percent of people correctly predicted the Final Four teams that year. Wisconsin, which had made it to the tournament in each of the past 14 seasons; Kentucky, unbeaten entering the tournament; Duke, a 12-time Final Four participant; and Michigan State, in the semifinals for the seventh time in 18 seasons, advanced to Indianapolis. It was the first time since 2009 that multiple first seeds made it to the Final Four. Only Michigan State (a seventh seed) did not have the top seed in its region.
Filling out a bracket is easy. Filling out a good one is not. What will March Madness bring in 2018? How far will your bracket go?