Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/20/14
Every March, brackets are filled out, trash talking ensues between friends and co-workers and before the first round even ends, a school like Florida Gulf Coast University shocks the nation and ruins countless brackets. While it seems borderline impossible to account for all of the unpredictability in March Madness, Facebook and Yahoo! teamed up to shed some light on the factors that affect filling out a bracket. Based off of 60,000 brackets that Facebook users filled out for Yahoo!’s Tourney Pick’em game, the two determined how much of a role hometown bias plays, the authority seeds have and if relationship status affects success when it comes to picking the winning teams. Not too surprisingly, hometown pride is strong with the top seeds, but all loyalty goes out the window with the low-ranked teams. At the state level, essentially every state picked Louisville to go home with the hardware, but Kansas and Indiana stuck to their roots, sticking with the Jayhawks and Hoosiers, respectively. The majority of the country may have picked the No. 1 seed to win it all — and they very well could be right — but it turns out that little number in front of the school’s name may not be as influential  when it comes to brackets as once thought. According to the study, in the first round users predict No. 4 seeds to have a 93% win rate, but after analyzing NCAA tournaments since 1985, it was determined they only have a 78% win rate — just don’t tell that to Syracuse or Michigan. In addition, the disparity between No.8 and No. 9 seeds is almost nonexistent and the two should be approached evenly. As for the relationship side of March Madness, those who were listed in a relationship performed better than those who are single or married and male users were more accurate by half a game, but women tended to predict more upsets than men.
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