Bracket Picking Rules to Help Win Your Office Pool!

Pregame Blogs

Pregame Blogs
Videos are just the START of the conversation. Each show has a dedicated blog post with show notes, links, and pics. Plus, the host and guests continue the conversation in the comments section!

Bracket Picking Rules to Help Win Your Office Pool!

Sports betting authority RJ Bell of provides a simple blueprint to improve anyone's bracket results.

Las Vegas, Nevada (March 15, 2009) - "Over 12 BILLION dollars is expected to be wagered on the 2009 NCAA Basketball Tournament - which is more than was bet on the Super Bowl," said RJ Bell of "And over 40 million Americans are expected to take part in bracket-style office pools." No sporting even generates more action. Here are 11 history tested rules that can help any one win their bracket pool.

1st round rules: Pick no more than two seeds worse than #12. #16 seeds are 0 for 96 in the modern era (since 1985). #15 seeds are 4 for 96. #13 and #14 seeds combined win only 18% of first round games.

Don't be shy about picking upsets with #12 through #9 seeds. Give special consideration to picking #12 seeds: they have won 13 of 32 matchups vs. #5 seeds the last eight years. #9 seeds have won over half their games (54%) vs. #8 seeds.

2nd round rules: Advance #1 seeds almost automatically into the 3rd round. #1 seeds win their first two games 87% of the time.

Keep advancing the #12 and #10 seeds you picked to win in Round One. These teams win over half the time in Round Two.

Seeds lower than #12 DO NOT win in the 2nd round. Only 6 of 368 teams that have advanced past Round 2 were seeded lower than #12.

Sweet 16 round rules: Advance exactly three #1 seeds into the Elite 8. There's no reason to buck the math: nearly 72% of #1 seeds advance into the 4th round (that's a higher percentage than #5 seeds who win a single game)!

Advance no team lower than a #11 seed into the Elite 8 (22 have made it to the Sweet 16, but only 1 has ever advanced).

Elite Eight round rules: Advance exactly ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four. Amazingly, exactly one or two #1 seeds have made the Final Four 19 of the last 24 years. Last year was the first with all four #1 seeds making the Final Four; do not allow a single season fluke to outweigh over two decades of history.

Advance no team lower than a #8 seed to the Final Four. Only 2 of 96 Final Four teams have been seeded lower than #8.

Final Four round rules: Advance NO team below a 6th seed to the Championship game. Not a single one has made it in the last 23 years.

Championship game rules: pick a #4 seed or higher to win it all. For 20 straight years the champion has been a #4 seed or higher!

For all of RJ Bell's unique March Madness reporting, visit:

MEDIA NOTE: Print, radio, TV, and Internet media should feel free to quote any information above. Please attribute: RJ Bell of For follow-up questions, or media appearances - email:

RJ Bell of is the only sports bettor on Forbes' recent list of Gambling Gurus and has been called "a true insider" by ESPN, "incredibly astute" by AOL and a "point-spread maven" by USA Today. Mr. Bell has been featured on CBS News with Katie Couric, ABC News with Charles Gibson, Nightline, Sportscenter, Outside the Lines (ESPN), First Take (ESPN2), Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Dan Patrick,,, Yahoo, and in the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, LA Times,, Bloomberg, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated. is the largest sports betting news website compliant with US Law.


> 10 "Don't Miss" things at

  • Here is the updated 2010 version:

  • bump

  • This reporting featured by Forbes >

  • reporting featured in Las Vegas Sun:

  • After 24 years, the best I can do is add one year of data. #12 seeds are 40%, and #13/#14 seeds are 18% . . . Most people find that an interesting difference.

  • Are you passing this off as new work?  The same information was put in the forum in 2007?

    Also, how can you justify putting in a 12 seed as an upset *because* they are 13 and 19.  That makes their opponents the better bet at nearly 60% winners.  I can see taking them IF you are trying to find an upset to take.  However, they are still only winning 40% of their games vs #5.  Would you flip quarters with me for $1,000 a turn if I had a trick quarter that came up heads 60% of the time and you always had to choose tails?  If not, then why pick a #12 that wins at only a 40% clip?

  • An interesting thing about statistics.  At least one of the above rules will most likely be broken this year (or any year)

  • Evan,

    Not sure how you think Memphis will go down early. They are one of the best teams in the tournament.

  • I thought for sure ESPN would be hitting you again...for another appearance.

  • reporting picked up by USA Today!

  • I really like the info here, just wish the teams that actually bucked the trends were listed. Like which team was " Only 2 of 96 Final Four teams have been seeded lower than #8."  Would like to know if this was a true small conference cinderella team or a big conference team who had a bad year but a big tourney run.

  • That is some damn good stuff, RJ. Now back to filling out my perfect bracket---eh eh

  • thanks alot for all that info.. i think it will definately help.

    good luck to you

  • Handicapping these games and filling out a bracket successfully is going to require more work this year than in previous seasons.  There are so many interesting match-ups, and I expect several surprise teams to make it to the Elite Eight and Final Four.  Look for Memphis to go down early, and either UConn or Louisville to go down not soon after too.