NCAA Tournament 2018 bracket: Proven computer simulation predicts surprising March Madness upsets

March Madness is officially here! You can pick your 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket based on mascots, based on your limited knowledge of most of the teams ... or you can trust science that has been proven to work. That'll give you a big edge in your NCAA Tournament pool.

The past two years, SportsLine's computer simulation has nailed some massive upsets, including huge wins by No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin, No. 13 seed Hawaii, No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State and No. 11 seed Xavier. Getting those picks right could literally make or break your March Madness bracket.

Overall, their model has called a stellar nine out of 12 upsets by double-digit seeds in the first round over the past two years and went 27-5 straight up in the first round last year. You shouldn't even think about making a pick without seeing what it has to say.

They ran thousands of simulations this year to come up with the perfect 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket, and find out which teams will pull off the biggest upsets.

What they found: No. 7 seed Arkansas falls to 10th-seeded Butler in the first round. The Bulldogs take this matchup outright in over 62 percent of simulations.

The Bulldogs have had a roller-coaster of a season, losing three of their last four games entering the NCAA Tournament. However, they're loaded with players who have experienced the pressures of March Madness. The Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year's tournament before being ousted by eventual champion North Carolina.

Arkansas' defense will have a tough task stopping Butler's explosive offense, which topped 90 points eight times this season. The Bulldogs are led by senior forward Kelan Martin, who is averaging over 20 points and six rebounds.

And history actually favors the Bulldogs. Butler boasts an impressive 5-2 record in its last seven games against the SEC.

Back Butler, which has won at least one game in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances, to knock off the Razorbacks.

Another huge curveball: No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin pulls off a shocking upset of No. 3 seed Texas Tech. The Lumberjacks are used to busting March Madness brackets. In 2016, Stephen F. Austin's 14-point victory over third-seeded West Virginia matched the record for the biggest victory ever for a No. 14 seed over a No. 3 seed. 

That didn't happen by accident, either. There has been at least one 14 vs. 3 upset in four of the past five NCAA Tournaments. And the Lumberjacks are loaded with players who have experienced the pressures of playing in March. SFA has advanced to the second round in two of its past three trips to the Big Dance.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech, which lost four of five games to end the regular season, struggled to find a way to win down the stretch. To make matters worse, Texas Tech star Keenan Evans was forced to miss the Big 12 Tournament due to a foot injury.

Evans will face a difficult task jumping back into game action against a Lumberjacks defense that leads the nation in defensive turnover rate. This is a 2018 NCAA Tournament upset pick you need to be all over.

SportsLine's model also has one region where you need to pick the Nos. 11, 12 and 13 seeds, and another region with a No. 4 seed in the Final Four. Nailing those picks could literally make or break your bracket.

So what's the optimal NCAA Tournament 2018 bracket? And which underdogs shock college basketball? Visit SportsLine to see the optimized NCAA Tournament bracket, and see which underdogs to lock in now, all from the model that nailed nine of 12 upsets by double-digit seeds the last two years.

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