NCAA Tournament 2018 bracket: Proven computer model predicts March Madness upsets

March Madness is officially here! You can pick your 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket based on mascots, based on your limited knowledge of most of the teams … or you can trust science that has been proven to work. That’ll give you a big edge in your NCAA Tournament pool.


The past two years, SportsLine’s computer simulation has nailed some massive upsets, including huge wins by 14-seed Stephen F. Austin, 13-seed Hawaii, 12-seed Middle Tennessee State, and 11-seed Xavier. Getting those picks right could literally make or break your March Madness bracket.

Overall, their model has called a stellar nine out of 12 upsets by double-digit seeds in the first round over the last two years and went 27-5 straight-up in the first round last year. You shouldn’t even think about making a pick without seeing what it has to say.

They ran thousands of simulations this year to come up with the perfect 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket, and find out which teams will pull off the biggest upsets.

What they found: No. 7 seed Arkansas falls to 10th-seeded Butler in the first round. The Bulldogs take this matchup outright in over 62 percent of simulations.


The Bulldogs struggled down the stretch, losing six of their last nine games overall, but only two of those games were by more than 10 points. We’ve also seen how dangerous Butler can be this season with wins against Villanova (101-93) and Ohio State (67-66).

And Butler gets an ideal first round matchup against an Arkansas team that has an extremely porous defense. Butler’s offense, which averages almost 80 points per game, will look to exploit a Razorbacks’ defense that is giving up over 75 points per contest. Arkansas is fresh off allowing 84 points to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals. 

Butler’s offense is led by senior forward Kelan Martin, who is averaging 20.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. Plus, the Bulldogs know how to win close games, evident by their winning record (4-3) in games decided by five points or fewer this season.

Back Butler, a program that has won at least one game in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances, to knock off Arkansas.

Another huge curveball: No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin pulls off a shocking upset against No. 3 seed Texas Tech. It wouldn’t be the first time the Lumberjacks have caused mayhem in March, either. They defeated third-seeded West Virginia in 2016 by 14 points in another huge NCAA Tournament upset.

That wasn’t a fluke, either. No. 3 seeds have suffered five losses to No. 14 seeds in the past five years, and the past three No. 3 seeds to lose in the first round came from the Big 12.

That could spell trouble for Texas Tech, who sputtered down the stretch and lost five of its last seven games. The Red Raiders are limited offensively and mustered just 63 points in a Big 12 Tournament loss to West Virginia.

Stephen F. Austin leads the nation with 10.3 steals per game and will make life tough on a Texas Tech squad that averages only 75.2 points. SFA is a 2018 NCAA Tournament upset pick you need to be all over.

SportsLine’s model also has one region where you need to pick the Nos. 11, 12 and 13 seeds, and another region with a No. 4 seed in the Final Four. Nailing those picks could literally make or break your bracket.

So what’s the optimal NCAA Tournament 2018 bracket? And which underdogs shock college basketball? Visit SportsLine to see the optimized NCAA Tournament bracket, and see which underdogs to lock in now, all from the model that nailed nine of 12 upsets by double-digit seeds the last two years.

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