As I’m sure everyone knows it’s time for March Madness. My readers in England and Sweden may not know this and if they don’t, they are right not to care because it is just silly. But it is silly fun that allows me to win money if I place my bets correctly on the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.
In order to win some money, I had to fill in a bracket. I filled in the bracket with all my picks and I gave a guy in my office my bracket and $5 and now I just wait a couple of weeks and see if I win anything. Final Four pools are like Superbowl pools: usually found in office settings, but the Final Four Bracket is more detailed. The Tournament begins with 68 teams from around the country who somehow qualify in regional tournaments (I think) and they wind up going to The Big Dance. And then March Madness takes off! Teams play single elimination games in different parts of the country and eventually the 68 teams are whittled down to the Sweet 16 and then the Elite 8 and then THEN the Final Four! From the Final Four comes the last two teams who play for the College Championship of Basketball and one team wins.
How, you may ask, can I ever know enough to pick teams to get all the way to the big championship game and pick them correctly and win the office pool money?! It is a daunting task but I am here to advise you on the intricacies of Final Four Bracket Picking.
Ahem, to begin…
There are four preliminary games this year (there may be preliminary games every year but I really don’t know much about the tournament structure outside of what is printed on the Bracket, never lose track of your bracket). This means there are 8 teams to choose from before you get to filling in the main bracket.
I went with the following teams for the following reasons. Stick with me and you will get the hang of my “System” (don’t tell Vegas about it).
Preliminary Game Picks:
- Mississippi Valley State because there were already too many Kentucky, Kansas, K teams in it to vote for Western Kentucky. (The game was played yesterday and I lost on this one. But WK came back from a big deficit I hear.)
- BYU my friend Dan at work went to BYU so that’s kind of a no brainer. (They won yesterday so I’m batting .500).
- Vermont because I’ve been there and it’s very pretty and I’ve never heard of Lamar, who could just be a really good player going out on his own.
- University of South Florida because my friend Joe went there and he posted a lot about them last week on Facebook and Cal is a very liberal school so that’s a non-starter for me.
You still with me?
Now we get into the big bracket.
Certain teams in the Tournament are “seeded” or expected to do very well in the Tournament. I picked the following seeded teams because they are seeded teams:
- Kentucky (1)
- Duke (2) — This was a tough one because Duke’s first game is against Lehigh and my friend Lucy’s son just got into Lehigh. You can see my dilemma but coworkers counseled me to go with Duke. Sorry Johnny.
- Michigan State (1) — I don’t know how there are multiple seeds of the same number but it probably has to do with regions of the country.
- Missouri (or Mizzou) (2)
- Wisconsin (4)
- Cincinnati (6)
- Florida State (3)
- UNC (1)
- Temple (5)
- Michigan (4)
- Kansas (2)
Next, select the teams that you have a personal connection with.
- UConn — I went to Colgate so I’m guessing I know someone that went to UConn.
- Baylor — Amy Fitzpatrick went to Baylor.
- Long Beach State University — this is a dark horse for me but I flew into Long Beach in November to go to Disneyland so I’m feeling pretty good about them.
- Marquette — My friend Julie’s niece went to Marquette and it is a Catholic school.
- UVA – My friend Judy lives in Charlottesville.
- Syracuse — My Uncle John and one of my cousin’s went to Syracuse and I’ve been there and it’s near Colgate, so duh.
- Vanderbilt – Stephanie Johnson Swanson went to Vanderbilt and I don’t for a second think that Harvard’s going to go anywhere in this thing.
- Gonzaga — Aaron in my office went to Gonzaga.
- Ohio State — Lucy lives in Columbus, she has had quite an impact on my choices this year.
Now move on to teams that by reputation seem like winners:
- Indiana — see Hoosiers, I love Gene Hackman.
- UNLV — I think they had that coach who used to bite his towel.
- Notre Dame — Knute Rockne, Rudy, can’t lose here. Oh wait, that’s football? well still.
- Kansas State — because it’s in Kansas and they seem to do well in basketball over there.
- Georgetown – Catholic school (so they say) and I think they were big in the 80s.
Finally move on to just teams that you like for no reason at all (you can’t let the whole thing be dictated by science!)
- VCU — I got them mixed up with Virginia Tech and I thought after that shooting a few years ago, it would be nice for Virginia Tech to have some good news. Good luck to VCU anyway!
- Memphis — Someone in my office told me that Memphis is a fun town and they played St. Louis first round and I have never been to either city.
- Louisville — I picked for several reasons. I think they have done well in the past, the name sounds familiar and I’ve never heard of Davidson and that’s who they played first round.
- Murray St. — Never heard of them. Loved Murray on the Mary Tyler Moore show.
- Bama — It’s fun to say “Bama!”
- San Diego State — I thought they might do well like San Jose State does in football.
- St. Mary’s — I briefly attended St. Mary’s Academy in Portland in 1979.
All of this work finally was narrowed down and I picked Syracuse to beat Kentucky in the final. Gave my $5 to Aaron and I’m in!
Not long after turning in my bracket I saw on my computer that Syracuse had declared their center ineligible for play in the Tournament. That would have been good to know an hour or so earlier. Don’t be discouraged even if you have a System, even if you have science and statistics on your side, some of the game is out of your control.