March Madness 2009: Picks Bracket Considerations

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:
March Madness 2009

Heading into March, the folks at offered odds on each of the teams likely to win the NCAA Championship this year.  These early observations - along with recent events - could help with  your March Madness 2009 picks bracket, whether it's for the office pool, the $1 Million Contest or to simply help with one's own betting.

Some important historic trends to keep in mind: 

In the last 20 years, No. 1 seeds have won 70% of the NCAA tournament. No. 2 seeds have won the title 10% of the time - Duke won as a No. 2 seed in 1991 and Kentucky won as a No. 2 in 1998.

Interestingly, No. 3 seeds have actually won 15% of the last 20 NCAA tournaments. Michigan was a No. 3 in 1989; Syracuse was a No. 3 in 2003; and Florida was a No. 3 in 2006.

Add it all up, and 95% of the last 20 tournaments have been won by one, two, or three-seeds.

Hear are some teams that are not necessarily going to be among the top seeds to examine closely for your March Madness 2009 picks bracket:

Florida State - registering wins over the likes of Florida, Miami, California, Cincinnati, Maryland and Clemson, and more recently, North Carolina.

Charles Jay of

"They've relied on glove-like defense (39% FG's allowed) rather than offensive explosiveness. The only double-digit scorer is Toney Douglas (20.3 ppg) but there are four others who are tallying between 7.9 and nine points per contest. FSU has size, with an effective pair of forwards and a freshman center (Solomon Alabi) who is turning into something of an intimidator, with two blocks and 5.6 rebounds in just 21 minutes game. Florida State is 15-7-1 ATS this season, so they are used to performing above expectations, and they have taken on the personality of their coach, Leonard Hamilton, which is that they exhibit mental toughness. Because they take their defense wherever they go, they are going to be a tough "out" in the tournament."

Florida State had odds of winning the tournament set at +20000 coming into March.  That would mean at payout of $20,000 for every $100 bet at if you happened to get that number early in the month.

Michigan - It was not set in stone heading into March that Michigan would make the tournament.  Today, it appears they have a good shot.  They are likely to be around a tenth seeded team and are capable of the upset.

"The Wolverines have gone though incredible peaks and valleys this season, and they are not a team that is going to overwhelm anyone with size, but when they can execute their up-tempo offense unencumbered, they are trouble for just about anyone," Jay said last week.  "Look, this is team that was good enough and gutsy enough to go into Pauley Pavilion and beat UCLA; they were routed by Duke, then came back and scored a win in the rematch. They went up to Connecticut and gave the Huskies life and death until the very end. There have been solid conference wins against Illinois, Minnesota and just recently Purdue, all of whom have seen time in the Top 25 this year. Yes, Michigan can pull some upsets in the tourney."

Michigan was listed last week with odds that would pay $15,000 for every $100 bet if they were to somehow win the tournament.

Purdue - "The Boilermakers were ranked highly at the start of the season, and were probably expected to ultimately go farther at that point then they are now. They've slid in the rankings, where they are #19 in the AP and #20 in the coaches' poll. Regardless of how they do in the Big Ten tournament, Purdue will be in the NCAA field. Last year they came out of nowhere to be a major player in the Big Ten, and had a lot of young kids who played with wisdom far beyond their years. They have balance, and the versatile Robbie Hummel is getting healthier. Plus, this team has the one guy they can count on as a defensive stopper - guard Chris Kramer, the unquestioned blood-and-guts leader of this team who can play lockdown against some of the best (just ask Stephen Curry, who shot 5 for 26 against him)."

They were listed with +4000 odds to win the NCAA Tournament outright.

Jay also offered an interesting observation about California, with odds that would pay $15,000 on every $100 bet at

"What makes this team special is that if the Bears go through a hot stretch, they are capable of beating ANYBODY on any given night," he said.

California was expected to come in around a number nine seed.

Don Shapiro,





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