You’re going to win the office pool.
By Jake Vigliotti
March 12, 2006
It’s almost humorous that legitimate newspapers and other news organizations will still run stories pointing out that participating in an office pool is illegal. It’s gambling. Cue scary music.
The reality is in today’s times, wagering and sports are like PB and J. The Super Bowl is the largest wagered event in the US, heck, there is even a move to make the monday after the Championship game a holiday. That’s so people can be more hung over and count their winnings.
The second largest gambling event is the NCAA tournament. It’s more fun than trying to figure out who will win the Super Bowl, because you get to fill out those cute little brackets! Face it, someone with absolutely zero knowledge of sports can win; wouldn’t know J.J Redick from J.J Walker, UCONN from The Youkon, nor Oral Roberts from… well, you get the idea.
Luck can only get you so far (for the most part), so I’ve decided to offer my assistance to those of you who will enter a pool yet have no clue what sport is even being played. Take my advice, do as I say, and you’ll be marching on and finishing in the money.
And before you get antsy, yes, I have ‘mad knowledge’ when it comes to the tourney. Any of you ever go 31-32 in the 1st round (as I did in 1995)? Didn’t think so. So get your pencils out. And to sound like you know what you’re saying, try dropping some of the stats in italics on people. They might think you know what you’re talking about.
Not every pool is the same, but this strategy will help you with the A. points per seed (i.e, if your 10 seed wins the 1st rd game, you get 10 pts, 20 pts in the 2nd round, and so on), or B. progressive point system (1 point for 1st round, 2 points for 2nd Round, 4 points for 3rd round, etc.). All we’re trying to do is get the most teams we can correctly into the Elite 8 (that’d be the final 8 teams out of the 65). Let’s begin.
First, take all of the #1 seeds and advance them to round 2. A #1 has NEVER lost in the first round (closest was Georgetown in 1989 with a 1 point win over Princeton on a questionable block at the end of the game). Also, take all of the 12’s and 2’s and advance em. The 2’s over the 15 you probably figured out (the 2’s are 80-4 all time vs the 15 seed) there seems to be an upset every 5 years or so, which means this is the year of the upset, but we’ll chance it anyway. If you’re really feeling frisky, take Winthrop over Tennessee – The Vols don’t play Defense, and Winthrop lost by 2 to Auburn, 10 to Memphis (a #1 seed) and have won 9 of 10.
The 12 is 9-11 in the last 5 years vs. the 5 seed. We’ll advance all of the 12’s, and hope for 2 wins (like in 2003). I don’t care how hot Syracuse is, every time a surprise team comes out of the Big East to win the conference tourney, they get bounced in the 1st round (see Providence in 94, and Villanova in 95). Those are our automatic advances to round 2: 1 seed, 2 seed, 12 seed.
The number 9 seed actually has a winning record vs. the 8 all time (9’s have 46 wins vs. 38 losses to the 8), but we’re going with all the 8’s except George Washington based on two reasons: an 8 has a better shot vs. the 1 in the next round, and the difference between an 8 and a 9 is only 1 point, so we’ll risk the extra point and guess that there’s a better chance of 3 #8’s advancing than 3 #9’s. GW has a player injured, so we’ll take #9 UNC-Wilmington to win. And yes, I know, Kentucky is horrid this year, but we’re simply playing the percentages here, but if you must, advance UAB by Kentucky.
Oh you tricky 3 seeds. The 3 is usually a lock for round 2, but a sure sign a 3 will get bounced is how they win. Lets face it, Gonzaga is a cute story, a small school, and has a pinko-commie scoring machine, but win big games they do not. The Zags have exactly 1 win lifetime when seeded higher than their opponent. Bye Bye, Adam Morrison. Take Giant Killer Xavier over Gonzaga. As for the 4 seeds, They win at an almost 80% mark in the 1st round – they only time they lose is when they are a team that doesn’t play any Defense. It’s tempting to bounce last year’s runner up Illinois, but they’re playing Air Force, who shouldn’t even be there. So advance all the 4’s, and 3 of the 3’s.
The 11 seed that will advance is the team that runs. It always works that way (UAB last year, Central Michigan in 03, and so on). So, who’s going to run? The highest scoring 11 is Wisconsin-Milwaukee, so we’ll take them and bounce the other 11’s. Besides, Oklahoma sucks in the big dance. We’ll take two of the 7 seeds - advancing Alabama and Seton Hall as 10’s, because despite being 10’s, teams with recent tourney experience, which Bama and Seton Hall have, plus good guard play, win almost at a .500 clip vs. the 7. That’s good enough for me.
Now it gets interesting. 32 teams to go. In 2005, all 4 #1’s advanced to the sweet 16. That’s actually uncommon lately. A #1 got bounced in 2004, 2002, and 2000 (see the trend?). #1 seeds who failed to make the tourney the previous year don’t have a great 2nd rd record, so we’ll send Memphis packing. Take Woo Pig Suey aka, Arkansas over Memphis. They’re not winning the whole thing anyway, so this is a risk worth taking. Advance all the other #1’s, but keep in mind that Duke won’t cover the spread (they never do in the 2nd round). The #10 seed has a 14-16 record vs. the 2 seed. It’s practically a coin flip. Now get this: a #10 from the big 6 conferences (SEC, Big East, Pac-10, Big 10, ACC, Big 12) is 8-4 vs. the #2, ironic that we put both Seton Hall and Alabama – both from the big 6 conferences – into the 2nd round, hun? That’s right, take Seton Hall over Tennessee (or Winthrop if you knocked UT) and Bama over UCLA. We’re not bothering with Texas, they’re playing in Dallas – practically a home game, and Ohio State’s playing in Dayton – that’s close enough to Columbus to be a home game.
Since we advanced all the 12’s, just bounce em now. Yes, I know, odds are one will make the sweet 16, and as much as I love Kent State, I think that in the long run, it’d be really bad if a #4 went to the final 4 and we bounced them in the 2nd round. All four #4's go past round 2.
All that remains is the 6/11-3/14 game. First bounce Xavier – they’re lucky we put them this far. Indiana moves on there. Florida likes being a #3 seed, so put them through too. Repeat after me: Tom Izzo is good. Pick against him at your own peril. I won’t. Spartans over UNC in round 2. And despite West Virginia’s height, I’ll take Iowa.
See how easy that was? You’re probably in 1st place after the first weekend. Now lets go for the kill. UCONN over Illinois, mainly because it’s not fun typing Illinois over and over again. Michigan State over Seton Hall. Like I said, Tom Izzo is good. His teams always win.
Take Nova over Boston College. Despite the fact that I think Nova stinks, the game should be high scoring and Nova can run. Florida does love being a 3 seed, but Ohio State loves winning. Take the Buckeyes.
“Duke is Duke, they’re on TV more than Leave It To Beaver.” Ah, from the mouth of Pete Gillen – make sure you say it with a thick Rhode Island accent when you say it. “Beevah”. It sure is fun to hate Duke, and that’s a tough match-up against a physical team like LSU. Or LSU will get called for a ton of tick-tack fouls like ever team does vs. Duke. After all, “They’re on TV more than Leave It To Beaver”… Duke advances. Texas crushes Iowa.
Now for the happy-fun bracket. We already bounced #1 Memphis, and the 8’s are actually 3-2 vs. the 4’s all-time, so lets take Arkansas over Kansas. Indiana coach Mike Davis has already quit – but he’s still coaching. And he’s playing his alma mater – Alabama. It’s serendipity. Indiana advances.
Elite 8: Duke may be Duke, but they ain’t beating Texas. Take the Longhorns. We love happy endings, so let Mike Davis and Indiana beat Arkansas and go to the final 4. Remember Tom Izzo is good. But UCONN is better. Huskies roll. I told you Villanova stinks, so it’s about time to bounce em. Ohio State wins.
Final 4: UCONN, Ohio State, Texas, Indiana. Just like 2003 and 2004, we have only one #1 making the finals. Bye Bye Indiana, it was fun while it lasted. Texas reaches the finals vs. UCONN, who knocks off Ohio State.
UCONN vs. Texas for the national title. Texas goes for the Football/Basketball National Title sweep – never done before. It won’t happen now either. The #1 seed is 4-1 vs. a #2 in the title game. UCONN, despite the early exit from the Big East Tourney, wins the national title.
You can thank me later.
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