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NCAA Bracket Picks 2020

Past Performance

We’re the only site that collects comprehensive subscriber results data that proves our edge

Since we started asking in 2017, our subscribers have reported

Bracket pool prize winnings of more than $1,705,702

That’s just the 27% of subscribers that answered our email surveys; total projected customer winnings are significantly higher.

Data we started collecting in 2015 shows that our subscribers

Won bracket pools 323% more often than expected

That’s the difference between winning a 25-person pool once every 6 years, instead of the baseline expectation of once every 25 years.

The performance data tables below reflect customer reported results from 9,717 real-world pools.

Pool Win Rates By Season

Year to year, how often have our subscribers won a prize in each individual bracket pool they entered, compared to expectations?

Season Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
2015 9% 13% 1.4x
2016 10% 22% 2.1x
2017 10% 70% 7.1x
2018 10% 38% 3.8x
2019 10% 44% 4.3x
Total 10% 42% 4.2x

On average, our subscribers have won a prize in 42% of pools they have entered. That win rate is 323% higher than the expectation of 10%.

Based on our customer surveys, every year, an average of

65% of our subscribers win at least one bracket pool prize

Winning a pool is tough and our picks certainly don’t win every year. But if you’re willing to trust the process, the longer term rewards have been impressive.

Subscriber Win Rates By Season

Year to year, how often have our subscribers won at least one bracket pool prize across all pools they entered, compared to expectations?

Season Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
2015 18% 23% 1.3x
2016 19% 36% 1.9x
2017 19% 90% 4.8x
2018 20% 63% 3.1x
2019 21% 71% 3.3x
Total 20% 65% 3.2x

On average, 65% of our subscribers have won at least one bracket pool prize each year. That win rate is 223% higher than the expectation of 20%.

Drilling down into the details of survey responses, we find that

Reported edges hold across a variety of pool types and sizes

It's not just a lucky performance in one type of pool driving the overall success rates.

Pool Win Rates By Pool Size

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down the size of each pool?

Pool Size Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
10 or fewer 21% 59% 2.9x
11 to 30 14% 54% 3.8x
31 to 50 11% 49% 4.4x
51 to 100 9% 45% 4.9x
101 to 250 7% 37% 5.6x
251 to 1,000 5% 28% 5.6x
1,001 to 9,999 4% 20% 4.7x
10,000 or more 1% 5% 4.6x
Total 10% 42% 4.2x

As expected, the bigger the pool, the harder it is to win. Still, our picks have outperformed expectations by a wide margin in larger pools.

Pool Win Rates By Scoring System

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down by the scoring system of each pool?

Scoring System Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
Round-Based (1-2-4-8-16-32) 10% 38% 4.0x
Round-Based (Other) 10% 48% 4.8x
Round-Based w/ Upset Bonus 11% 49% 4.5x
Seed-Based 11% 46% 4.1x
Total 10% 42% 4.2x

On average, our prize win rates vs. expectations have been quite consistent across a variety of scoring systems.

Pool Win Rates By Number Of Brackets Entered

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down by the number of brackets entered in each pool?

Number Of Brackets Entered Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
1 7% 37% 5.0x
2 12% 50% 4.2x
3 13% 51% 3.8x
More than 3 14% 44% 3.0x
Total 10% 42% 4.2x

So far, our biggest edge vs. expectations has been a single-entry strategy. That makes sense, since the first bracket we recommend is the one with the best chance to win.

You might notice that in the table above, entering "More than 3" brackets in a pool seemed to be worse for our subscribers than entering 2 or 3. That's actually just a quirk of the data, because subscribers entering more than three brackets tended to be playing in much bigger pools. Splitting out this same data by pool size (the next three tables) shows that entering more brackets did indeed improve our subscribers' chances to win.

Pool Win Rates By Number Of Brackets Entered

Pool Size: 50 or fewer

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools with 50 entries or less, compared to expectations and broken down by the number of brackets entered in each pool?

Number Of Brackets Entered Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
1 11% 49% 4.5x
2 18% 59% 3.3x
3 23% 63% 2.7x
More than 3 32% 66% 2.1x
Total 14% 53% 3.7x

On average, in pools with 50 entries or less, our subscribers have won a prize in 53% of pools they have entered. That win rate is 273% higher than the expectation of 14%.

Pool Win Rates By Number Of Brackets Entered

Pool Size: 51 to 250

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools with 51-250 entries, compared to expectations and broken down by the number of brackets entered in each pool?

Number Of Brackets Entered Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
1 4% 29% 8.1x
2 8% 46% 5.9x
3 11% 53% 4.9x
More than 3 17% 54% 3.2x
Total 8% 41% 5.2x

On average, in pools with 51-250 entries, our subscribers have won a prize in 41% of pools they have entered. That win rate is 416% higher than the expectation of 8%.

Pool Win Rates By Number Of Brackets Entered

Pool Size: 251 to 9,999

Since 2015, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bracket pools with 251-9,999 entries, compared to expectations and broken down by the number of brackets entered in each pool?

Number Of Brackets Entered Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
1 2% 14% 7.3x
2 4% 30% 7.4x
3 5% 33% 6.2x
More than 3 9% 38% 4.2x
Total 5% 26% 5.4x

On average, in pools with 251-9,999 entries, our subscribers have won a prize in 26% of pools they have entered. That win rate is 439% higher than the expectation of 5%.

How We Calculate Prize Win Expectations

To calculate how often one should expect to win a prize in a bracket pool, we make the assumption that all players in a bracket pool are equally skilled.

In real life that's not exactly true; usually pools are filled with a mix of more skilled and less skilled pickers. But as long as it's a fairly even mix, this approach serves as a simple and "close enough" benchmark.

We also adjust prize win expectations for the payout structure of each subscriber pool, and for the number of brackets a subscriber played in a specific pool.

For example, in a 100-person winner-take-all bracket pool, baseline expectations would give each player a 1-in-100 (or 1%) chance to win a prize, assuming they each entered one bracket.

However, if the pool awarded prizes to the top three finishers, or if a player played two brackets in the pool, then their chance to win a prize would be higher than 1%. We account for all of these factors in the "Expected To Win A Prize" numbers in the tables above.

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