How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool

cover_screenshotYou want to win your March Madness pool. The money is nice, but the bragging rights are even better.

However, it seems so difficult to win your pool. You don’t have the time to do the hours of research required to study all teams.

I have a better way for you.

To win your pool, you must combines analytics and strategy. Analytics gives you an edge over others in predicting winners. Strategy lets you exploit the biases of others in picking the best bracket.

I discuss these ideas in How to win your NCAA tournament pool, my book for:

  • People who don’t think March Madness can be predicted. You’ll be surprised how often analytics can predict the winner of tourney games, even before it starts. See the Introduction Chapter.
  • People who think you should just pick the team with the highest win probability as champion. You need think contrarian. See Chapter 3.
  • People who don’t have 10 hours to research their bracket. A simple 3 step process helps you make the most important decision for your bracket.
  • People who love March Madness. This book recounts the excitement of past tourneys through an optimal bracket.

How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool, revised and updated for 2017, explains how to fill out your bracket based on pool size. This is the only genuine way to maximize your odds of winning.

I won two pools, one of them had 100 entries, and the other had 20 entries. It felt great winning the pool, bragging rights in my office were almost better than the money won!

— Ryan Peters, Omaha, Nebraska, 2015.

To use this combination of analytics and strategy to win your pool, click here.

About the author

Ed_Feng_headshotHi, my name is Ed Feng. As a college basketball junkie in grad school, I wrote code to use Ken Pomeroy’s numbers to fill out my bracket. After that, people stopped inviting me into their pools.

Years later, I developed a ranking algorithm for sports teams based on my research in the mathematics of randomness. This led to The Power Rank, my site devoted to better predictions through analytics.

March Madness has played a huge role in my sports analytics journey from the beginning. In 2012, SB Nation made a gorgeous video on my tourney analytics and data visualizations.

In addition, here’s an unsolicited email about my rankings and predictions.

You’ll be glad to know that I have been and continue to be in first place in my family bracket, and yesterday the message board was abuzz with talk of my first 8 picks being perfect. My police officer cousin threatened to subpoena my IP address to make sure I had picked before the games started. I explained my picks and posted a link to The Power Rank website, which prompted my uncle to cry foul about my research methods!

— Tom Kellogg, Madison, WI.

Using your NCAAB rankings I placed second in an 800 man contest.

— Steve Bell, Canton, Georgia, 2016.

A study by found my 2015 tournament predictions to be the most accurate.

As a data scientist and writer, I contribute regular college football columns to Bleacher Report. My content has also appeared on Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, and Grantland.

The secrets behind winning your pool

My research reveals the following lessons on filling out your bracket.

  • Can tournament games be predicted at all? You might be surprised how often one particular team wins, and why this matters in small pools. See Chapter 1.
  • How to pick the right pool. You might as well light your entry fee on fire if you enter the wrong pool. See Chapter 2.
  • The contrarian approach to winning a medium sized pool that will make sense to no one but you. This is the key to avoiding the luck of others in your pool. See Chapter 3.
  • The little secret about which teams to not pick as champion. It has to do with college basketball’s ultimate weapon. See Chapter 5.
  • Your true odds of winning a pool based on its size. My Monte Carlo simulations give you the best possible estimates.

Here’s how one reader won his pool in 2015.

I played 2 contrarians (Arizona & Duke) in a middle size pool. I used your advice in picking the games (rather than waste time looking for sleepers etc.). I took 1st when Duke won the tournament, and I would have been 3rd if they lost.

–Randy Athay, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, 2015.

There is no guarantee that you’ll win your pool. Even with the best strategy, luck can slap you in the face. Grandma, who doesn’t know the difference between John Calipari and Nick Saban, picks every sleeper team that makes the Sweet 16 and wins the pool.

However, analytics can greatly reduce the role of luck in your pool results. In about 10,000 words and 7 visuals, this book shows you the best strategy based on pool size. In addition, I provide an honest look at your chances of winning a pool.

How to win your pool

There are multiple ways to apply my March Madness research to help you win your pool.

Become a member of The Power Rank

Members of The Power Rank get access to all of my analytics and bracket advice, which includes:

  • A pdf copy of How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool.
  • My full bracket advice for the 2017 tournament, a service only available to members. In essence, I apply the ideas in the book for you after Selection Sunday.
  • College football and NFL predictions. My NFL predictions went 52.3% against the closing spread (134-122 with 11 pushes) in 2016.

To become a member of The Power Rank for $79 per year and get instant access to the book, click on the orange “Add To Cart” button.
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You can also pay with PayPal, JCB and Diner’s Club. The membership renews yearly.

Paperback and ebook

How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool, the professionally edited book, is available from Amazon in both paperback and for Kindle.

  • To read paperback for $9.99, click here.
  • To read the Kindle version for $7.99, click here.

Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the free Kindle reading app for your smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac, iPad.


The audiobook is read by the author and professionally edited. It contains over 55 minutes of content from the 2016 edition.

To purchase the audiobook package for $9.99, click on “Buy the audiobook package How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool.”

Buy the audiobook package How to Win Your NCAA Tournament Pool

Get a free sample of the book

Still unsure? You can read the Introduction chapter of the book by signing up for my email newsletter.

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