March Madness is upon us again, almost like it is an annual event. The yearly office pool (statistical study) is distributed, and you face the same reality that befuddled you last year.
Namely, your basketball knowledge is nil. Sure, you understand the general gist of the game. A bunch of guys in long shorts run around and throw that orange orb into the metal circle. You also understand that everyone gets really excited about it for some unbeknownst reason.
You could decline to participate, but it is one of those office bonding exercises, and there is pressure to join in the festivities. But again, you don’t know how to make picks.
Here are a few strategies for filling out that bracket, copied on company equipment or distributed via company email.
If you want to be quick, safe and boring, you can go with all favorites. Simply pick the higher seed and follow that strategy throughout the bracket.
NOTE: In this case, the lower number is the higher seed. Try to remember that.
Following this strategy will result in four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. This is extremely unlikely, but it is a safe methodology if your goal is to score some points and hide somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Once those four are safely slotted into your bracket, feel free to pick based on whatever criteria you want, such as geography, nice-sounding names or “gut” feeling.
This will also save you from actually doing any research. Pick the lower numbers, satisfy the pushy office pool coordinator and move on with your life.
Chance of winning: Decent, but don’t hold your breath.
You could go with the dartboard approach. Of course, you should not literally throw sharp objects at your computer screen or a printout of the bracket.
Instead, just pick whatever you want. Flip a real coin or boot up your coin-flip app on your smartphone. The purpose of this strategy is to employ random statistical chance. If you believe in luck, this is your opportunity to show it.
Your bracket might look a little strange when you are done, but if you are not invested in making a solid run at the office title, you may not be bothered by a strategy that is truly random.
Granted, many individuals who fill out brackets employ this strategy at least to some degree. When you start picking No. 8 versus No. 9, a coin may actually be appropriate.
Chance of winning: Slim, but life is random.
If you want a more interesting strategy, go with all “upsets.” Any upset in March Madness is when a lower-seeded team beats a higher-seeded team. Again, this means a bigger number beats a smaller number.
The upset strategy might yield you several results. If your intent is to be the office clown, picking all upsets may accomplish your goal. While there are typically upsets every year, this phenomenon has limits.
Another result is that you might look like a genius on a couple of picks. In the rare event that a No. 14 beats a No. 3 or the very rare occurrence where a No. 15 beats a No. 2, your office pals will ask how you possibly could have predicted this. Next: stock tips.
Before you employ this strategy, keep in mind that picking all upsets is sort of like throwing newspaper on a campfire. You may get some quick points in the first round, but your long-term prospects for winning it all are a bit sketchy.
Chance of winning: Highly unlikely.
For those of you more into aesthetics, there is always the uniform strategy. In other words, pick your favorite color or combination of colors.
This strategy is similar to the random strategy, as colors can be a bit subjective depending on the person. Colors can be symbolic, but they can also come down to a simple question of personal preference and how a uniform looks on a group of players.
Do you like a nice fierce red? A bold blue? How about a striking orange? Perhaps a happy yellow?
However, if you don’t know anything about basketball, it might take you some time to look up all the uniforms. If you are going to put in that much time, perhaps consider actually reading some columns about the team itself.
Chance of winning: Unknown, but probably low.
Some folks like to use the mascot rule, which suggests that you should picture what would happen if the two mascots met for a real-life fight in nature. To be clear, we mean the real versions of the mascots and not the walking, life-size plush toys that roam the sideline during games.
For example, what would happen if a Gonzaga Bulldog met an Oregon Duck? Easy one, right?
Now, try one that is a little harder. What about a UCLA Bruin (that’s a bear) versus a Memphis Tiger?
What about the Kansas Jayhawks in a pecking fight with the Louisville Cardinals?
Granted, some of these are not particularly clear. What happens if a Buckeye (a nut) fights an orange? Which creature will fare best against a hurricane?
Of course, to employ this strategy you might need to do some research in order to ascertain the meaning of certain mascots. After all, what are Billikens anyway? Hoosiers? Blue Devils? Hoyas? Lobos?
Chance of winning: Also unknown, but also probably low.