So this year, for the first time ever, I decided to try picking the NCAA bracket using different methods. I'm going to be in Vegas for the first round so I expect to me way more into this year's tourney than several previous years. All in.
And, as per this website's policy, I will make sure to place bets on all of my winners when I hit Vegas tomorrow. I can't wait to look at the guy at the sports book with a straight face and bet $11 on North Carolina A&T to win it all.
Here are 11 different methods I used to pick the 2013 NCAA tournament (all of which I believe can be publicly viewed at ESPN's tournament thingy here).
I'm quite disappointed that none of the methods produced St. Mary's as the winner, because there's a player on that team named STEVE HOLT. But other than that, this experiment turned out pretty well...
Hop on the bandwagon.
Always pick the higher-ranked seed. This is one of those things like when you take someone to a horse racing track and have them put $2 on the horse with the best odds to show. No one's particularly proud of you but you get a slice of cantaloupe at the end.
Final Four: #1 Louisville, #1 Kansas, #1 Indiana, #1 Gonzaga (aka all the #1 seeds). Champion:Louisville (#1 seed overall).
Always pick the upset. I have a friend who went to James Madison. I'm not 100 percent sure she knows they're in the tournament -- or that they won a play-in game last night to get there -- but in this bracket, they make the championship game. That will make their most famous alum -- Scott Norwood (!) -- so proud. Even though they came up wide right in this championship matchup against NC A&T.
Final Four: #16 North Carolina A&T, #16 Southern U., #16 Western Kentucky, #16 James Madison. Champion:North Carolina A&T (worst seed to win a play-in game and make the tourney).
Coin flip. For this one, we set up a spreadsheet and assigned a random number (1 or 2) to each of the 63 games. That led to some fairly erratic results -- but hey, everyone says there's a lot of parity in college basketball this year, so maybe this will be my miracle bracket. Thanks to my nerdy substitute for an actual coin -- is it sad that in 2013 it's easier for me to pull up Excel than find a coin? -- this Final Four features #15 Albany, #6 Arizona, #11 Minnesota and #6 Butler. That would truly be a miracle.
Get ready for more Northwestern State throughout this list.
Geographical distance. For this bracket, we picked the team that had to travel a shorter distance to the venue. There were a few really close battles -- Butler versus Indiana in the Elite Eight came down to a handful of miles -- but there was one team dominant above the rest. If homecourt advantage exists, 14th seed Northwestern State has a cakewalk to the NCAA title. Northwestern State is located in Louisiana and would play in Austin, Arlington, then Atlanta. No other team plays in three venues so close to home.
Plus, since it's looking less and less likely that I'll ever get to see my Northwestern play in the NCAA tournament, it's nice to see a Northwestern tear it apart.
Final Four: #1 Louisville, #3 New Mexico, #14 Northwestern State, #6 Butler. Champion:Northwestern State.
Total wins. This bracket is based just on total wins (with ties going to the higher seed). So if you were a dominant team in a weak conference, that's better than being a damn good team in a tough conference. It's "Big fish in a small pond" syndrome. Or "Why Carlos Santana won 7,000 Grammys that one awful year in music" syndrome.
Following President Obama. President Obama made his annual NCAA picks yesterday. He's not particularly good at those picks (he picked UNC to win in 2009 but whiffed on 10 of 12 Final Four picks since); let's assume he's busy and doesn't have time to follow college basketball.
Reggie's picks. Back when I was doing football picks on 11 Points, I had my parents' dog Laska make the picks. I am very sorry to announce that Laska passed away last month after a very long, very happy life. So I had my dog Reggie make the picks in honor of Laska. I would hold a couple of crumbs of a treat in each hand and, through that, he picked all 63 games. He ate less than one total Pupperoni -- and now, an hour later, he's still licking the floor hoping to find more crumbs. Or, apparently, more underdogs to root for.
Mascot battle. For this one, my friend Adam and I actually debated every single mascot-versus-mascot battle, purely from the standpoint of who would murder whom in a Battle Royale-style battle royal. It took far longer than it should've. Our basic rules were supernatural beats force of nature beats human with a gun beats human with a worse gun/other weapon beats scary animal beats not scary animal beats plant, townsfolk or idea.
Michigan State Spartans beat Valpo Crusaders, 300 style... Pitt Panther easily takes out Wichita State's bale of hay... usually humans beat animals here, but I'll take the Kansas State Wildcat over a (probably unarmed) LaSalle Explorer... taking the New Mexico Lobo, a wolf, over the Harvard Crimson, a color... we really had no idea what to do with the Western Kentucky Hilltopper (as pictured)... we had the historical context to pick the Illinois Fighting Illini over the Colorado Buffalos... St. Mary's would've won if they were still the Saints and hadn't switched to the Gaels in the 1940s.
Final Four: #2 Duke (Blue Devil defeats OK State Cowboy), #10 Iowa State (Cyclone defeats Ole Miss Rebel), #14 Northwestern State (Demon defeats Michigan Wolverine), #2 Miami (Hurricane takes out the UNLV Runnin' Rebels). Champion:Duke (the devil is more powerful than a generic demon).
Better defense. They say defense wins championships. Which is among the boring-est of all sports cliches, just behind "Give 110 percent" and "Skip, you're a damn fool. TEBOW." For this bracket, each game was awarded to the team that allowed fewer points per game.
Better offense. They say offense wins championships. (Well, they don't really, unless the "they" involves Dominique Wilkins.) For this bracket, the team that scored more points per game gets the win. Unbelievably, this is the third time #14 seed Northwestern State made one of my championships and the second time they won it all. Live it up, Natchitoches, Louisiana. Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.
Final Four: #2 Duke (76.2 ppg), #15 Iona (80.6 ppg), #14 Northwestern State (81 ppg), #1 Indiana (80 ppg). Champion:Northwestern State.
My stupid bracket. When I used to make NFL football picks, at least I felt like they were grounded in some modicum of knowledge. I can definitively say my NCAA picks are grounded in nothing. I watch very, very little college basketball and generally pick on some mix of (useless) historic reputation and (useless-er) gut feeling. Like, if Kentucky had made the tournament, I'm sure I would've had them in the Sweet 16. I have no knowledge and no real system. It's the same way I would pick stocks, Tony winners or produce.