With the NCAA tournament so close, people want to be able to get a leg up on their colleagues by submitting an NCAA tournament pool that won’t get laughed out of the break room.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that you shouldn’t pick a 16 seed to win the tournament considering a 16 seed has never won a tournament game.
But that doesn’t mean you need to pick a top-seeded team, either.
You can look up statistics all you want to find out your percentage chances of one seed beating another, but that all works until it doesn’t and there’s nothing worse than hearing the team you picked to win the whole thing lost because of something that never happened before in the tournament.
In other words, if past performance could predict future winners, there would be no need for the brackets.
There are many tools out there that you can use to better your chances to win. In some cases, no one in a tournament pool picks the winner and it is in these times you need to put yourself in a position to take advantage.
I have a few rules to share that will help you in your endeavor to be the office pool king or queen.
Other people can copy the experts’ pools, but what’s the fun in picking all the No. 1 seeds?
I have a better way, and now, so do you.
For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here
There is no rule more important than understanding the scoring system of your pool. Depending on the variation, you could pick the highest amount of winners and lose the pool or vice versa, you could pick the least amount of winners and win.
For example, the pool I play in every year scores depending on the seed of the winner for the first two rounds of the tournament. This means that if a No.1 seed wins a game and you selected it, you get one point, but if the 16 seed were to win the game and you picked it correctly, you would get 16 points.
This system rewards for picking upsets and makes 8-9 and 7-10 games crucial.
In my pool, if I don’t believe a top-seeded team is going to advance far, I pick against it early. This is because if I am wrong for the first two rounds, the worst thing that happens is I lose two points, but if I am correct, the world is my oyster.
There are a million variations of scoring and it is imperative to know yours in order to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
As I’ve previously written, seeds only tell you what a room full of stuffy athletic directors and chancellors believe a team is worth.
If you want to know your real chances for an upset, you need not go any further than the betting line.
Here’s a prime example. Georgetown is a No. 3 seed facing 14 seed Belmont. Georgetown has one of the great basketball traditions while Belmont has never won a tournament game.
You’d think Georgetown should be a shoo-in.
You’d be wrong.
Georgetown opened up as only a five-point favorite, but has since dropped to a three-point favorite. I’m not saying Belmont is the winner, but someone in Vegas has a problem with the Hoyas and lines like this usually tell you that something’s rotten in Denmark.
For my money, it’s best to not even look at the seed and go with two things, your gut and the Vegas line.
Being a fan of a team will most certainly lead you to picking that team over another, but is it worth it to root against your team, just for the money?
This all depends on which team you root for, of course, but being a graduate of Western Kentucky and then picking them to win the whole tournament is not only throwing your money away, it does not speak well of the education you received at your Alma Matter.
In order to pick a tournament pool that is not swayed by your allegiances, a good trick is to fill out a tournament pool with your favorite team losing in the first round. This way, you’ll have an honest opinion of how the tournament could play out and it will give you a little more respect for teams in your team’s bracket.
Then ask yourself, is your team as good as you think they are?
I know it’s easy to write, but you don’t have to root against your team. If your team wins it all, the pool does not mean anything anyway. You got the important championship.
Otherwise, leave Western Kentucky in Western Kentucky.
When picking your games, it is good to pay attention to any roster changes, injuries or suspensions.
If you are have Syracuse going far, knowing Fab Melo is not playing will probably have an influence over your picks.
If you have North Carolina traveling to New Orleans, John Henson’s status might prevent you from keeping them there.
A lot of people waste their time collecting historic data when it bears no weight on the present.
Pay attention to the headlines and keep yourself informed.
Knowledge of the present is never a bad thing.
As I alluded in the last slide, the unexpected can and will happen. There is no benefit to submitting your pool early.
If you are worried about second guessing yourself, then lock your pool away somewhere, but having access to instant information is useless if you can’t apply it.
Sometimes a plane takes off late or a team get’s snowed in or an airport shuttle blows a tire. These are all issues that would make me think twice about selecting a team.
Consider your pool an interest bearing account. As long as you keep money in the account, you can continue to collect interest. Would you pay a bill ahead of time, with no cost benefit? Of course you wouldn’t.
Unless there is a point reward for turning your pool in early, keep it to yourself until the last possible moment. You’ll thank me when the Ohio State bus breaks down.