March Madness For Dummies: Facts & Stats from #1 Sports Betting Expert
NCAA Basketball Tournament facts & stats your audience will find compelling.
Las Vegas, Nevada (March 7, 2007) - Beyond the “hoopla” March Madness is a HUGE sports betting event. The NCAA reports 30 million American’s participate in their office pools. Billions of dollars are bet by casual and hardcore fans.
RJ Bell, the President of Pregame.com and About.com’s Sports Gambling Guide, is a leading sports betting expert, and has been featured on ABC News, CNN, ESPN Radio and Howard Stern’s SIRIUS station. He’s also been profiled in dozens of publications, including The Washington Post and Maxim Magazine - and has even been quoted as an authority by H&R Block. RJ Bell is a 3-time world handicapping champion, and is the only sports bettor on Forbes’ recent list of Gambling Gurus!
RJ Bell has compiled March Madness For Dummies cheat sheets that will help you easily and accurately fulfill your audience’s demand for tips, facts, and stats. All four Bracket Sheet Sheets are included in this news release.
Cheat Sheet One: March Madness Fun Facts!
Odds of picking a perfect bracket? 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. That’s nine quintillion to one!
Cheat Sheet Two: 11 Bracket Picking Rules You should NEVER Break!
#16 seeds are 0 for 88 vs. #1 seeds; the last 18 champions have been seated #4 or higher
Cheat Sheet Three: 5 Keys to Picking Surprise Teams!
Having one superstar makes all the difference: of the last 28 champions, an amazing 27 has had at least one All American on their team
Cheat Sheet Four: Most Overrated/Underrated Teams!
Highly rated Wisconsin will struggle against teams playing a faster tempo outside the Big 10
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Cheat Sheet One:
March Madness Fun Facts
• Odds of picking a perfect bracket? 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. That’s nine quintillion to one! How big is that number? It is a billion times as big as 9 billion! Think of it this way: if every man, woman, and child on the planet randomly filled out one million brackets each, the odds would be greater than 1000 to 1 that even one would have a perfect bracket.
• Defining an upset as beating a team at least 4 seeds higher, there’s an average of 8.7 per year. There’s never been a year with less than 5 upsets.
• The last 10 champions have been won by 9 different schools. Connecticut is the only team to cut down the nets twice in the last decade.
• The FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is illegally wagered annually on March Madness each year. Less than 4% of that amount is wagered legally in Nevada.
• According to the NCAA, more than 10 percent of Americans participate in March Madness “office pools.”
Cheat Sheet Two:
11 Bracket Picking Rules You Should Never Break!
•Be very selective picking any team below a #12 seed.
• #16 seeds are 0 for 88. #15 seeds are 4 for 88. #13 and #14 seeds are less than 19% combined.
• Don’t be shy about picking upsets when #12 through #9 seeds are involved.
• Look especially hard at picking #12 seeds; they have won 11 of 24 matchups vs. #5 seeds the last six years. #9 seeds have a winning record vs. #8 seeds.
• Advance #1 seeds almost automatically – they win their first two games 86% of the time.
• Keep advancing the #12 and #10 seeds you picked to win in Round One. They win almost half the time in Round Two (14 of 29 for #12 seeds; 17 of 35 for #10 seeds).
• Rarely pick a #13 seed or lower to win in Round Two. Only 9% of teams advancing past Round Two are seeded that low.
• Advance exactly three #1 seeds into the Elite 8. No reason to buck the math: 70% 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 #12 seed into the Elite 8. NOT ONE has ever advanced!
• Advance ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four. Amazingly, exactly one or two #1 seeds have made the Final Four 18 of the last 22 years.
• Advance no team lower than a #8 seed to the Final Four. Only 2 of 88 Final Four teams have been seeded lower than #8.
• Advance NO team below a 6th seed to the Championship game. Not a single one has made it in the last 21 years.
• Pick a #4 seed or higher to win it all. For 18 straight years the champion has been a 4 seed or higher!
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats span from 1985 (the year the tournament expanded to 64 teams) to present.
Full Cheat Sheet Three: 5 Keys to Picking Surprise Teams
#1) Margin of Victory
Statistically speaking, this factor matters twice as much as the second most important factor – so ignore at your own risk. Margin of victory is simply the average number of points that a team wins or loses by. Why is this important? Because with only 30 or so games a year, getting lucky in even a handful of close games can make a team look much better record-wise than it truly is. But if a team consistently wins by large margins, you can be more certain you’ve got a real winner. The key number is 15; teams whose margin of victory is greater than 15 points do exceedingly well in the NCAA Tournament.
#2) Coaching Experience
The Big Dance is an entirely different experience than the regular season, requiring a different approach from the coach. It makes sense that a coach who is new to the Tournament wouldn’t know as well how to handle it. The numbers strongly back up this rationale: The average number of tourney appearances for coaches in the tournament is 5.6; the average for teams reaching the Final Four is 9.3 coaching appearances; the average for the team who wins it all is 11.5 coaching appearances (more than double the tournament average). Avoid rookie tourney coaches, and stick with the old lions who have seen it all before.
#3) Team Experience
The Big Dance is not just different for the coaches, it’s different for the entire organization – and having tourney experience is key. This concept extends even beyond the players. Consider all the details that need to be handled, from travel plans, to the type of hotels to stay at, to what equipment the trainer needs to bring. And don’t underestimate the intangible of confidence – a player walking onto the court knowing that he belongs on the biggest stage. That only comes with experience. The average number of consecutive tourney appearances for teams in the tournament is 3; the average for teams reaching the Final Four is more than double that!
#4) Having a superstar to count on
Since 1979, every NCAA champion except one has had at least one All-American; that’s an amazing 27 out of 28 years! The logic makes perfect sense: the tourney is a rollercoaster that requires an on-the-floor leader. On the way to winning six straight games a team will likely face a number of make or break situations, and having the alpha dog on the floor in those spots makes all the difference.
#5) Reliable front court scoring
Centers and Forwards who play near the basket account for front court scoring, and their play is usually a difference maker – especially for teams looking to advance deep into the tournament. Relying upon outside shooting is a losing proposition during the Big Dance: first, because the games are played in unfamiliar, spacious arenas, typically with difficult shooting backgrounds. Second, even if great shooters are able to overcome these disadvantages, doing so game after game after game is typically too much to ask. A cold night is bound to happen – and it only takes one to be eliminated. Front court scoring, on the other hand, involves lay-ups and slam dunks, shots that are not as affected by surroundings or nerves. Teams who receive at least 60% of their scoring from the front court have historically over-achieved in the NCAA tournament. Stick with such teams, and you will to!
Full Cheat Sheet Four: Most Overrated/Underrated Teams
1. Gonzaga: Everybody’s mid-major darling the last few years, and will likely again be a popular underdog. The Bulldogs have had off the court problems and have struggled against top-flight opponents all year long. They have benefited from playing in a lowly West Coast Conference.
2. Kentucky: Tubby Smith could very well be out as head coach after this season and his team has not responded well by dropping 5 of 7 to end the regular season. People know the name, but don’t assume Kentucky will fare well just because of tradition.
3. Duke: Just like Kentucky, people know the name and will assume they will get to the Sweet 16 for the 10th straight time. Look for that streak - the second-longest in NCAA history - to come to a grinding halt this year.
4. Ohio State: May be the #1 team in eyes of voters, but they likely lack intensity to win six straight games in a tournament setting. Their out of conference schedule was particularly week.
5. Wisconsin: Has leveled off significantly over the last nine games, losing three contests and will struggle against teams that play a faster tempo that’s not seen in the Big 10.
1. Texas A&M: Still playing in the shadows of better-known Big 12 programs like Kansas and Texas, the Aggies have the nation’s best senior in guard Acie Law IV. Keep in mind that floor generalship is extremely critical in the Big Dance.
2. Louisville: The Cardinals are playing as good as any team in the country right now with a 6-game winning streak since losing to Big East champ Georgetown. They have an outstanding freshman big man in Derrik Caracter, bringing back memories of Pervis Ellison, who led Louisville to the national championship 21 years ago. Plus, Louisville has Rick Pitino, one of the best tournament coaches in the history of the game.
3. Maryland: Another very hot team, the Terps opened the season with eight straight wins and has won seven in a row to close out the regular season, beating Duke and North Carolina in the process.
4. Tennessee: Slumped through the middle of the season with the loss of leading scorer Chris Lofton, but since his return they’ve been playing lights out including a double-digit victory over Florida.
5. Butler: The last time they won 27 games in a season was 2002-03 and they finished in the Sweet 16. Have a talented head coach in Todd Lickliter who should be more prepared to go further in this year’s tournament.
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