Bracket Projections 2015: Top First Round Picks, Odds, and Tips

March 17, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

The NCAA tournament is set to start this weekend and people are searching for tips for filling out their brackets, including how to properly predict an upset and the national champion.

Keep in mind that history supports No. 1 seeds in many cases. For instance, 18 of the last 30 national champions were No. 1 seeds. And since 1985, almost three out of every four teams in the Final Four have been No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 seeds. Because of that, “At least three of your Final Four teams should be a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 in their bracket,” recommends Sporting News.

Unless you have good insight from following college basketball closely this season, it’s safe and smart to choose almost all of the favorites in the first round. But there are some matchups that could easily yield an upset.

Texas, a No. 11 seed in the Midwest, actually has a higher percentage chance of advancing to the next round than No. 6 Butler, according to FiveThirtyEight. Ohio State, a No. 10 seed in the West, also has a higher percentage chance of advancing than opponent No. 7 VCU.

MORE: NCAA Bracket Projections: Most Likely First Round Upsets

Other potential upsets with pretty good odds, other than the No. 8 vs No. 9 matchups, in the first round: 

–Midwest: No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia (33 percent); No. 10 Indiana over No. 7 Wichita State (28 percent)

–East: No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 Providence (38 percent); No. 10 Georgia over No. 7 Michigan State (35 percent)

–West: No others over 25 percent

–South: No. 10 Davidson over No. 7 Iowa (38 percent); No. 11 UCLA over No. 6 SMU (37 percent)

MORE: Free Printable Bracket

People competing in bracket competitions should know that most everyone will have Kentucky making the Final Four if not winning it all. The team, with at least three players expected to be selected early in the next NBA draft, has 70.9 percent odds to make the Final Four and 37.6 percent odds to win the entire tournament, according to ESPN’s Bracketology

Other super safe picks? Fellow No. 1 seeds Villanova, Wisconsin, and Duke; and No. 2 seeds Arizona, Virginia, and Gonzaga. The odds drop sharply after Duke in terms of odds to win the tournament, putting these seven teams above the rest.

Kansas, the other No. 2 seed, is ranked as the weakest No. 3 seed, while Iowa State is ranked the best No. 3 seed and Baylor is ranked the best No. 4 seed.


Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
Follow Zachary on Parler: @zackstieber