This isn’t really personal finance advice, but I felt compelled to post this because of the ongoing NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the prevalence of office pools. If you’re not interested, feel free to skip this post; this is merely an extra posting to fill people in on the details of a strategy for filling out your brackets that I use and that doesn’t require any knowledge of college basketball.
I have been doing NCAA tournament office pools for as long as I can remember, and each year I do the same exact thing, time and again. Time and again, I’m near the top of the office pool. The best part about this strategy is that you don’t have to know a single thing about college basketball to do well with it.
So, if you’re in an office pool but know nothing at all about college basketball, here’s what you do.
For the first two rounds, pick nothing but the favorites in every single game. You’ll get the vast majority of your picks right and you also won’t fall flat on your face because you spent your time picking upsets. This means your Sweet Sixteen should be nothing but one, two, three, and four seeds.
For the rest of the tournament, ignore the seeds and pick the team that had the most wins over the last fifteen games of the season. You can get this information at ESPN.com fairly easily by looking at the full season schedules. If you use this strategy in 2007, that means you’ll have Georgetown as your tournament winner, playing Kansas in the title game, and Florida and Ohio State being your other Final Four entrants.
This is exactly how I picked my bracket each of the last five years, and I have been in the top half of the finishers every year, with two years of actually winning the pool. The strategy is this: I just assume that the top seeded schools really are the best ones until they start facing each other, at which point the hottest team will win.
This strategy won’t win any major online bracket-picking challenges, but it will ensure you a good finish in a small pool.