Saturday, March 26, 2016

Winning your NCAA bracket pool

Our work sponsors an NCAA bracket pool.  Top ten points all get a prize.  Prizes range from a $100 gas card to a free lunch in the cafeteria.  First round games are worth 1 point, each round points double after that (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32).

If that sounds in any way familiar - let me now take you through my logic on how I filled out the bracket.

But before we start - know this:  I watched a parts of 3 games prior to the tournament - all season long.  I'm not an expert.  It doesn't matter, here's why:

The only way you win a tournament is to pick the team that will win it all.  And no one really knows who will pull off the win.  Last year Kentucky was a heavy favorite to win it all - but the winner was Duke.

The fact that no one really knows is the key to my first recommendation:  Pick a team that has a good chance to win - probably a #1 or #2 seed - but one that MOST people won't pick.

When I filled out my bracket, I figured that there would be around 100 people entering the challenge. I needed a team that less than 10 people would pick (there are 10 prizes, I want at least a lunch out of the deal).  I threw out Kansas, Michigan State and Xavier (local team).  That left me with three number ones and two number twos.  My immediate thought was "North Carolina is the best of the remaining ones - I'll take them".

Having picked my winner, I filled out that part of my online bracket.

From there it was simply a matter of picking the rest of the teams - with the rule that all of my final 4 had to be #1s or #2s.  It's not that I believe it will work that way - it's just that I'm not smart enough to know which number 3 / 4 / etc. could be the next Cinderella team - or if there will even be a Cinderella team this year.

Having pulled up all the other final 4, I then move to the final 8 (again, lots of low numbers).

After that I have a little fun with it.  Pick some #12 seeds vs. the #5 for early bragging rights and fill out the rest.

As of right now - I'm in first place.  There was a lot of luck this year, but I will stay there as long as the Tar Heels keep going.  Anyone else who picked NC will also win something - as long as they keep winning.  (As a very unexpected bonus - if NC makes the final 4 along with Virginia - It won't even matter who wins that semi final game, as long as they also win the final.  No one picked Virginia in our pool.  I would get a prize either way.)

If I hold out it will be the second pool win - for someone who rarely gets to watch a non-tournament NCAA game.  (The last time I won was when the UConn Huskies won - I was the only person who picked them...)

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