Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sports Talk: A twist on bracketology

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Mar. 27, 2013. 

I’m always hesitant to fill out my March Madness bracket—mainly because I don’t feel like I have a clue on what is right or wrong, but then again, hasn’t time taught us that not even the experts really know a thing when it comes tournament time?

The beauty of March Madness is you truly do not know what might happen. Even the greatest team may fall unexpectedly due to one bad game.

As usual, I did fill out a bracket—at the last minute. But, as usual, I am glad I did. It’s always 10x more fun to watch and keep up with the games when you have a team to root for or against…. Although, a small part of me sometimes wants the underdog to always win despite what my bracket may say.

One of my biggest disappointments about my bracket usually has to do with my early success that never goes anywhere. I have actually done fairly well certain years in randomly picking the upsets. One year I was even leading at work, which was a pool of nearly 70 people.

However, what’s most disappointing is the early success usually means nothing. You earn so few points in the first few rounds that if you don’t hang on to your final four—or the majority of your elite eight—you’re probably out of luck for winning your pool.

A friend at work has a unique twist on how he and his friends have fun with March Madness predictions and competition. Rather than filling out brackets, they have a draft.
Each person (they have eight total) gets to draft eight teams. Points earned are based on the rank of a team. If your team wins, you collect the number of points of their rank. Suddenly a number one ranked team is not that attractive in your draft.; max, they can earn you six points.

On the flip side, if this year you had drafted Oregon, you would already have 24 points from one team even if they don’t win another game. In this game, it’s a better risk to pick underdogs and hope for upsets than to go with the safe plays.

The 10, 11 and 12 seeds, according to my coworker, are some of the top picks in their draft. They can capture a nice set of points with just a single win, even better with two.
The 5, 6 and 7 seeds are also popular, as they have a chance at advancing into the elite eight. The 1 and 16 seeds are usually the last to go. A top seed maxes out low and a 16 seed’s odds of earning any points are too low.

This game’s winner is usually determined within the first three, maybe four rounds, but I like the new twist it adds to the excitement. I also appreciate that it puts the value in the early wins rather than the final four.  I mean, I might as well try it out next year right? See if my early luck works out for me?

As for this year, I’ve survived the opening weekend of nonstop games with my final four still in tact. OSU and IU gave me a scare there for a minute, but those Cards are staying steady.

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