One thing that we have worked hard to understand will sound a lot like a question you ask your investment advisor…
How much risk should I have in my portfolio (of bracket picks)?
We have examined this question thoroughly.
If you took all the better seeds all the way through your bracket, you would likely finish between the 65th and 95th percentile, depending on the year and who you picked among the 1 seeds to win once reaching the Final 4. Great you are better than most entries, but you still aren’t winning.
Let’s take a closer look at the last three years to get an idea on how much risk you may need. We used a scoring system where the 1st round is worth 1 point, the 2nd round is worth 2 points, etc.
In the chaos that was the 2010 NCAA Tournament, you would have had to take 19-30 points of risk, and be right. In 2009, you would have need 10-21 points of risk. 2008 had very few upsets and you would have needed 6-17 points of risk.
We repeated this drill for every year and we looked at the ESPN scoring model which makes each round worth the same number of points, but allocated among fewer games.
Here is the rule of thumb that we believe transcends point allocation dependencies.
We think it is reasonable to target 4 lower seeds winning in round 1 (not including 7-10, 8-9 matchups), 2-4 lower seeds in round 2, and 1-2 games in rounds 3 and 4.
If you can get more than 50% of these correct, you should be able to get 13-17 points ahead of the competition. Then you have your Final 4 games to close any remaining gap.
In a soon to be released article, we will look at how you should dissect this analysis in two categories: When do Brackets mis-behave because of poor seeding and when do teams mis-behave.