March 18, 2014 by bdetienne
March Madness is here! [For the uninitiated this means the NCAA men’s basketball tournament where 68 teams face off to become national champion.] The annual articles of teams that were snubbed, expert predictions, and lost productivity have already begun circulating. It also means that millions of people will sit down over the next couple of days to complete a tournament bracket and attempt to win their office/friends/family/Warren Buffett’s Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge pool. And whether the stakes are pride or a billion dollars participants are always looking for the ultimate official foolproof can’t-miss strategy for winning. If you are reading this article, I have good news for you. I have found the answer and I am willing to share it with you. For free. No postage and handling even. Are you ready?
*The ultimate official foolproof can’t-miss strategy for winning your NCAA Tourney Bracket Pool is: sheer-dumb luck.
Didn’t see that coming, did you? You probably expected a novel-long algorithm I had devised taking in several factors from each of the 68 tourney teams, the pattern of the moon over the next three weeks, tournament locations, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. But there is a reason why more often than not the woman who picked teams that are from places she’s been to or the man who chose the mascots he liked most win. For fans of college basketball who feel they are at least somewhat knowledgeable look at the games and with the exception of a few toss-ups feel it is easy to predict on paper but teams have to go out and play. But unbelievable shooting nights, injuries, bad matchups, and great coaching can lead to upsets [and a black mark on your office pool.]
There will be some people out there who doubt my theory. They start spewing stats and information like the comedian Gallagher does with pieces of fruit. They will tell you such things as:
*9 of the last 10 champions had blue in their jersey
*8 of the last 10 champions wore Nike (the other two Adidas)
*7 schools have won in the last 10 years, with UConn, North Carolina, and Florida winning twice each
*3 championship teams in last 5 years [2009 North Carolina, 2012 Kentucky, and 2013 Louisville] advanced to the Final Four the year before they won it all
*Every team has been in the top 20 rankings of offensive and defensive efficiency of the KenPom rankings
*No team lower than a 3 seed has won the title in the last 10 seasons
*In 5 of the 10 seasons a 5 seed or higher has advanced to the Final Four
While this data is very informative it all has one thing in common: it tells the story of what happened in the past. Perhaps the trends will continue. Maybe the experts will be right. But nothing is guaranteed. It only takes one upset, one difference, to change everything. That’s why they call it March Madness. So employ whatever strategy you like. I just hope luck is on your side.