2024 Bracket Selections

Your bracket composition depends on size of your pool. If your pool is on the smaller end (50 or less entries) then it should be a fairly chalky bracket with a few measure upsets. No need to take major chances. With larger pools (100+ entries), you should be taking more upsets but still no need to be reckless. Mimicking the general public with picks will likely not end up different enough to win a pool. 

More on the composition of these different pools below the specific brackets.

Small Pool Bracket


  • For the most part I either picked the higher rated team by kenpom or the betting favorite (essentially the same thing). I only picked four double digit seeds in round 1 (NM, Nevada, CSU and CO/Boise winner. Fyi I like CU over Florida much more than Boise but posting this prior to that game). However, NM and Nevada are favorites even as the lower seeds. CSU is a small underdog to Texas even though 76% of brackets on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge picked Texas. Based on the moneyline, Texas is only a 61% probability to win. That’s a perfect example of a +EV pivot that isn’t very risky.  Boise/COL winner will also be very close to a PK either way. As noted in my bracket preview, a first four non #16 seed has advanced to the 2nd round in 11 of the last 12 tournaments and five teams have at least made the Sweet 16. These teams are always underrated in brackets.
  • I limited the upsets in round 2 to just fading those higher seeds (Bama, UK, Baylor) that are most vulnerable due to poor defenses. New Mexico to the Sweet 16 sounds like a “risky” play but they were poorly seeded and are a top 25 kenpom team (essentially should have been a 7 seed at worst).
  • My Final 4 is fairly chalky but that’s ok with small pools. Let everyone else reach for major upsets. Arizona over UNC is not chalky but Arizona would be the betting favorite even as the #2 seed over the #1 seed. UNC is also getting much more public love than the odds imply so it’s a nice little pivot.
  • Feel free to move around the title game and winner since all four fit my most likely Champion. The more entrants you expect in your pool (up to ~50) the little more likely you should be to take a team like Arizona or Houston to win the title.
  • I think there are enough early, strategic upsets here to warrant picking UCONN to win it all. Totally can understand going with one of the other three teams though.

Large Pool Bracket


  • Obviously this bracket takes more chances but nothing that I consider to be outrageous.
  • The highest leverage game by far that I selected and you might have to select in order to get the best bang for your buck is by fading UCONN (gulp) and picking Auburn to get to the Final 4. As discussed in the Preview section, Auburn is grossly underseeded as a 4 seed when Kenpom ranks them as the 4th best team in the entire country. Ironically, UCONN won the title last year in this same exact spot, underseeded as a 4 even though they too came into last year’s tourney as Kenpom’s 4th best team. This creates a huge opportunity if they can somehow manage to pull this off. I would not have selected any other team in this spot beside Auburn based on the mismatch in their rating and their seed. Auburn has destroyed virtually every inferior opponent and lost by 8 or less to good teams in Baylor, Tennessee, Miss St and Alabama. They also beat Florida, Miss St., A&M and Alabama by double digits, likely leading to a lot of their good underlying metrics. As great as UCONN is, they do struggle in forcing turnovers on defense and play at a slow tempo which opens them up for an upset if a good offense like Auburn can get hot.
  • I strongly considered Purdue in the title game out of the Midwest, and wouldn’t blame anyone for going that route. They are a bit undervalued based on public brackets but I just continue to not be impressed by this team late in the season. How many years in a row do we have to see them underperform when it counts? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice… I want to get there but I would hate myself if they lose early once again. And even though they qualify as a title contender based on historical parameters, they’d be the 2nd worst defensive team in the last 20 years in terms of points per possession allowed (71st in the country). With KU dealing with injuries, I took a shot with Gonzaga. They are not as talented as years past but they have an elite offense (3rd nationally in points per possession). They did lose by 10 in an early season matchup with Purdue but led at halftime. They shot just 6/32 (18%) from three in that game. It was the single worst offensive efficiency game they produced all season and still were right in the game. If they just shot to their season norm from 3 (35.5%), and frankly even if Purdue did as well, the game was a virtual draw. When you compare public pick percentages among Final 4 teams and actual implied betting odds, the gap is one of the larger ones among top seeds.
  • My other big upset that differentiates this from other brackets is picking MSU over NC in round two. Its painful because I have a title ticket on NC but I need to take another big shot somewhere and Sparty is far and away the best 8/9 seed in the tournament. They rank 18th in Kenpom and the point spread vs UNC will/would be much more narrow than the general public realizes (likely ~3 points). Its also a top 10 defense that plays at a very slow pace and, of course, has the experience with Tom Izzo on a short turnaround to create the upset. They also are one of the better teams in the country in terms of offensive turnover rate so they will have opportunities against a UNC defense that ranks just 309th nationally in creating turnovers. To be fair, I could also see Miss St make the same run and its a virtual coin toss in round one against MSU so we are taking a big gamble here but why not.