I’m Betting (Literally) the NCAA Selection Committee Knows What It Is Doing

It was late Thursday afternoon, and my picks for March Madness were due early the next day.

As I wrote in a previous post, I haven’t really paid much attention to college basketball this year, so my picks were going to end up being completely random.

So I decided to go with the quickest, most basic strategy I could think of. I would simply pick the favorite, according to the seeding, for every single game, right through to the Final Four.

That meant there was no thinking involved. And if the committee which put the seedings together has done its job properly, then my odds should be pretty good.

It also meant my final four would consist of the number one seeds from the four regions.

At that point, I had to go with another strategy.

So I checked the final rankings before the tournament, which showed the following:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Illinois
  3. Baylor
  4. Michigan

So that meant in the semifinals I have Gonzaga beating Michigan and Illinois beating Baylor and for the final I have Gonzaga winning it all. (And fun fact about Gonzaga, which I just learned this week from Richard at Big Sky Buckeye– it’s where Bing Crosby went to school!)

Fortunately, all of my final four teams survived through their first game. However, one of the number two seeds, Ohio State, lost in the first round, which is really going to cost me.

At this point, 29 games have been played, and I have 21 wins, good for a tie for sixth place, out of 36 players. Remarkably, one of the players has picked 27 of the 29 games correctly.

The beauty of my strategy is that if I do terrible, I can blame it one someone else – the selection committee.

Unfortunately, and don’t tell anyone, my strategy also means that I have VIllanova losing in the next round. While that may not show much school spirit, realize it’s not me who made that decision, it was the selection committee.

And while I don’t know how many of the 36 players have Villanova winning the next round, I think this is the first time I can remember in a long time that no one has them winning it all.

So I guess that means when money is on the line, school loyalty is thrown out the window…

18 thoughts on “I’m Betting (Literally) the NCAA Selection Committee Knows What It Is Doing

  1. The great thing about the tournament is the smaller schools do have a shot. The one-and-done format adds to the excitement. I thought I’d start watching when the tournament started, but I’ve hardly had it on. Maybe for round 2.

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  2. I am not sure following the seeding will be as beneficial as you may hope. There always seems to be some amazing upsets in the tournament, i.e. Ohio. But Gonzaga winning it all is not a stretch. Good luck!

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  3. I’m with Clive. I don’t know what you’re talking about either. And maybe that’s saved me a lot of money. But I like your strategy, as it appeals to my lazy bone. And I also like the name “Gonzaga.” Sounds sort of like Godzilla. So by all means, they’re my favorite to win. Whoever the heck they are.

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  4. I don’t do brackets anymore. If I did, I’d go with your approach. Are there any supercomputers that fill out brackets?

    The cool thing about the NCAA basketball tourney is there are no classes by school size, conference, etc. as there are in high school basketball. Every Division 1 school is eligible. That is what I like about the Indiana high school tournament when I was growing up.

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    1. I am guessing there are some high performing computers used to fill out a bracket or two.

      My approach has not worked very well. which I guess is part of the fun, as you note. Sometimes a number 15 can knock off a number 2…


  5. Jim, thanks for sharing Bing Crosby as you piled on the expectations of a very talented Gonzaga squad. As for my viewing of the tournament, my TV found other programming after Ohio State bit the dust in the first round.

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