March Madness Bracketology: Filling Out a Successful Bracket

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RENO, NV - March madness is underway, which means words like "bracket" or "seeding" have been floating around the office or among your friends. College basketball fans are ready to take a stab at filling out a perfect tournament bracket. Locals chime in on their secrets to filling out a successful bracket.

Thousands of fans will fill the sports books over the weekend to watch the first round matchups, and see if their brackets survive. Whether it's for an office pool or for some quick cash, you don't have to be an expert to take part in the madness.

"I think a long-shot is going to come in because it's a wide open year," Robert Hansen, an annual participant, said.

"Most people's tendency is to pick the favorites. To me, you have to pick the underdog," said Charles Schubert, another participant.

"It's a crap-shoot. I like playing craps, so I'm going to roll the dice, baby!" said Wilber Haverly.

Everyone has their own method of filling out a bracket; even the most casual basketball fans want a piece of the action.

"It's easier to watch the game when you're expecting the unexpected," said Haverly.

"Anyone can figure all the favorites all the way through but pick a couple upsets you want to see win and enjoy it," said Steve Mikkelson, race and sports book manager at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.

If you want to cash in, these are some trends experts say are safe to bet on:

1. 16 seeds have never won in the first round.
2. A 12 seed almost always manages to defeat a five seed.
3. 1 seeds usually make it through the Sweet 16 and into the Elite 8.

"I mean, if you're going to make a bet, you obviously want to win so you want to bet with your head not with your heart," Mikkelson said.

50 million people will fill out brackets this year, but the odds of getting a perfect bracket are mind-boggling. Experts say the odds of getting a perfect bracket is one in 9.2 quintillion; that's 1:9,000,000,000,000,000,000.

"I told my wife she's got a better shot at picking a better bracket than I do because there's always going to be those upsets," Mikkelson said.

It's a gamble, but it goes to show there's just no method to this madness.

"Every year is a different year so we'll see how it goes."

Another incentive to make a bracket this year; billionaire investor Warren Buffet is giving $1 billion to the person who can make the perfect bracket. You can sign up for free; the link is to the right of this story.

Don't wait too long to fill one out; the tournament begins Thursday morning.