- March Madness brackets require a score prediction for the championship game of the tournament.
- We determined the average score of the final games over the past 30 years by calculating the average combined scores of the two teams, the average individual score, and the average winning margin.
- The math is imperfect, but we found the average score to be 76-67.
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No one has ever gotten a perfect March Madness bracket.
But all brackets, in the event of a tie, require a score prediction in the final game of the NCAA Tournament as a tiebreaker. Even if two people tie in a pool with imperfect brackets, the final score could decide who wins the pool.
Predicting a score can be tricky, and plenty of people like to go off past examples as a framework.
We tracked the scores of every March Madness final going back to 1990 to find the most common result. We averaged the total combined scores of the two teams, the average individual score, and the average winning margin.
The average total score was 143.6, meaning the average individual score was 71.8 for both of the final teams. The average winning margin was 8.9 points. We rounded all of these numbers up – 144, 72, 9.
Therefore, the average score of the final games over the past 30 years has been approximately 77-68.
It’s not a perfect formula, but 77-89 is a safe bet to make.
It’s also worth noting, however, what went into those numbers.
For instance, averages are affected by outliers. In 1990, UNLV beat Duke 103-73, the largest disparity over the past 29 years. The final game in the NCAA Tournament has been decided by 10 or more points only nine other times.
Could this year be different? With a reduced number of fans and all of the games taking place in Indianapolis, perhaps offense will be up this year? It’s worth noting that in the last decade the final combined scores have exceeded 144 only three times.
How likely is the final-score prediction to factor in a bracket pool? Not very. But every pick matters. Nailing the final score could be the difference-maker for some lucky player’s bracket.