Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bracket Runs Through It

Eventually, all teams merge into one tournament...and a bracket runs through it.

And so begins the 2011 NCAA Tournament...

Experts have called this year's tournament one of the most wide open they've seen in years...yet many of them have all or most of the number one seeds advancing. Will it happen? Only time will tell.

Last year, I picked Duke, Georgetown, West Va. and Syracuse in my final four and I had Georgetown knocked out on the first night of the tournament when the then 3 seeded Ohio Bobcats absolutely took it to the Hoyas. I thought my bracket was busted, but some savvy Sweet 16 picks kept me getting points and staying on top. One by one, the popular picks fell until Duke was left standing and I was left as the Champ (and with a few dollars in my pocket).

Before I unveil my 2011 bracket picks, I'll share a little bit of strategy that I've both used and that I've taken note of as I've seen the experts picks.

Many of the experts pick what they call "chalk." This basically means that they pick many if not all of the higher seeds to advance in the tournament. The problem with this strategy is that if one or two of the top 4 seeds in each region loses, you might be in trouble. It also doesn't really factor in upsets, which are typically rewarded in many pools. For example, if you pick a 12 seed to beat a 5 (happens almost every year) then you would get the point for the pick and some amount of bonus points for picking the upset. So, it behooves you on some level to pick upsets. Which takes us to my general strategy.

The only way to really keep yourself in it points-wise, is to pick upsets. There is an obvious risk-reward element to picking upsets and if you can hit big, then you can really help yourself out. For example, last year I picked Old Dominion over Notre Dame and St. Marys over Richmond. Both were picks that few others had and really gave me a leg up going into the second round. What you can do and probably should do with upsets however, is hedge your bet a little bit. So, for example, if I have the winner of Clemson/WVU losing to Kentucky, and I think Clemson could beat WVU, then I am going to pick Clemson. Sure, I don't get the point if they lose, but if they win, then I hit it big. You can't do that every time, but I found it to be effective last year and I'm giving it a shot this year again.

And now, the picks:

My Final Four Are:

Noteable Upsets:
Round 1:

12 Clemson over 5 West Virginia
9 Villanova over 8 George Mason
11 Missouri over 6 Cininnati
10 Michigan St. over 7 UCLA
11 Gonzaqga over 6 St. Johns
13 Belmont over 4 Wisconsin
10 Florida St. over 7 Texas A&M
12 Richmond over 5 Vanderbuilt
9 ODU over 8 Butler

At the end of the whole thing, the team that will cut down the nets in Houston is:

1 comment:

  1. Pretty bold predictions.....guess we will see. I was going with Idaho State to go all the way, but I could not find them on the brackets...sigh! Oh well, there is always next year.