Can You Predict the N.C.A.A. Tournaments Without Filling Out a Bracket?
A typical N.C.A.A. tournament bracket requires you to pick winners in 63 games. How time-consuming! In our challenge, you only need to make a few simple predictions, and you don’t need to be a college basketball expert to give it a shot.
Voting has closed for this round, but you can see how other Times readers fared (and check your own results). We’ll return next week with another set of questions.
(The bonus question at the bottom will only be answered later in the tournament.)
How many game-winning buzzer-beaters will there be in the round of 64 in the men’s and women’s tournaments, combined?
Three or more. (Bring on the madness!)
Correct answer: Zero. There were some thrilling finishes, but there were no game-winning shots made as time expired.
Our pick: Zero. We love the lore of March Madness just as much as you do, but the truth is that buzzer-beaters happen less often than you might think, to the point that sometimes people remember shots in the final moments as buzzer-beaters when they really aren’t. Even Sports Reference has lenient definitions. — Oskar Garcia
Among the teams that reach the round of 16 in both tournaments, will there be more team nicknames that are related to animals (Cougars, Gamecocks), or more names unrelated to animals (Crimson Tide, Hoosiers)?
It’ll be tied.
Correct answer: More animals. The animals won, 19-13.
Our pick: Animals. We like animals because they should always win in a fight. — Talya Minsberg
At least one No. 12 seed usually upsets a No. 5 seed in the first round of the men’s tournament. How many No. 12 seeds will beat No. 5 seeds this year?
Zero. (Good news for fifth-seeded San Diego State, Miami, St. Mary’s and Duke.)
Four. (I’m all-in on Charleston, Drake, V.C.U. and Oral Roberts!)
Correct answer: Zero. It’s the first tournament since 2018 without a No. 12 seed beating a No. 5 seed.
Our pick: Two. There were two 12-5 upsets last year (Richmond and New Mexico State), one in 2021 (Oregon State) and three in 2019 (Murray State, Liberty and Oregon). So let’s go with the average of two. — Sara Ziegler
How many teams seeded No. 1 through No. 4 will miss the round of 16 in the women’s tournament?
Three or fewer. (The top seeds dominate.)
Four or more. (Let’s mix it up.)
Correct answer: Four or more. This includes two No. 1 seeds missing the round of 16 — the first time that’s happened in the women’s tournament since 1998.
Our pick: Four or more. Let’s see how much madness March can really bring. — Talya Minsberg
In the men’s tournament, how many teams seeded No. 10 or lower will win games in the round of 64?
Five or fewer. (A sleepy year for upsets.)
Eight or more. (This is why we watch.)
Correct answer: Five. The total number of upsets may have been slightly lower than usual, but this year was anything but sleepy.
Our pick: Six. Interestingly, the N.C.A.A. has records by seed for the first round that show that teams seeded No. 10 or lower have won 22.4 percent of those games against the higher seeds. With 28 games to be played, six is a very fair number of bracket upsets to pick. — Oskar Garcia
Will any team come within 15 points of the South Carolina women’s team during the first two rounds?
No. (Sorry, Norfolk State and South Florida/Marquette.)
Correct answer: No. The Gamecocks beat Norfolk State by 32 points and South Florida by 31.
Our pick: No. South Carolina’s average margin of victory this season was 30.3 points. So we’re going to say … no. — Sara Ziegler
Which conference will send the most teams to the round of 16 in the men’s tournament? (Assume one conference will top the others.)
Big Ten (eight teams in the tournament).
SEC (eight teams).
Big 12 (seven teams).
A.C.C. (five teams).
Big East (five teams).
Another conference. (The Pac-12 and Mountain West are the next most represented, with four teams each.)
Correct answer: SEC and Big East. We’ll give credit for either the SEC (Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee) or the Big East (Connecticut, Creighton, Xavier), which each sent three teams to the round of 16.
Our pick: Big 12. The Big 12 has been the deepest conference all season, as we wrote in January. We’ll stick with those teams to keep dancing to the Sweet 16. — Sara Ziegler
Will any No. 1 or No. 2 seeds lose their first-round games this year, in either tournament?
Yes, at least one. (Bust those brackets!)
No. (St. Peter’s was just an anomaly!)
Correct answer: Yes. It’s also the first tournament ever in which both a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed lost their first-round games.
Our pick: No. The St. Peter’s win over Kentucky in the men’s tournament last year was so surprising because No. 15 over No. 2 upsets are so rare. (They happen about 7 percent of the time.) Those upsets are also rare in the women’s tournament, where the top seeds have an enormous advantage playing at home against the lowest-seeded teams. — Oskar Garcia
Will anyone correctly pick all 32 men’s first-round games in the ESPN, CBS Sports or Yahoo bracket challenges?
Yes. (It’s happened before.)
No. (Do you know how many possible combinations there are?!)
Correct answer: No. Fairleigh Dickinson made sure of it.
Our pick: No. Warren Buffett is offering $1 million to any of his employees who pick a perfect first round. He can afford it, but he also knows long odds when he sees them. — Jonathan Ellis
In the first two rounds of the women’s tournament, how many games will be won with a score of 100 or more?
Four or more.
Correct answer: One. Utah beat Gardner-Webb, 103-77.
Our pick: Two. This happens with some regularity, but it’s been getting slightly less regular: After four century marks in 2018, there were three in both 2019 and 2021, but only two last year. We’ll guess that trend continues and go with two. — Sara Ziegler
How many teams from Texas will make the round of 16 in the two tournaments combined?
Men’s teams from Texas: No. 1-seeded Houston, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Baylor, No. 6 Texas Christian, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, No. 16 Texas Southern.
Women’s teams from Texas: No. 4-seeded Texas, No. 7 Baylor.
Three teams or fewer.
Five teams or more.
Correct answer: Three teams or fewer. Only the Houston and Texas men’s teams made it.
Our pick: Four. The seedings would suggest that four seeds will make it, and given the matchups, that sounds right. — Sara Ziegler
Bonus: Twenty-six schools have both their men’s and women’s programs in the tournaments. Which school will have the most combined tournament wins this year?
Correct answer: We’ll have to wait to find out.
Our pick: Connecticut. The Huskies are certainly capable of another Final Four run in the women’s tournament, and in the men’s bracket, they have at least a shot at knocking off Kansas, the No. 1 seed in their region. Texas is our runner-up pick. — Jonathan Ellis
That’s it! You can always come back to this page to see how you’re doing. And stay tuned for more questions next week.
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