Why you lost your tournament pool

Why you lost your tournament pool
Apr 03, 2007, 03:44 pm
You filled out a bracket, didn’t you? You, like the college basketball slave most people are, filled out a bracket. Heck, you probably filled out 5 brackets. You asked your basketball buddies to help you if you had no idea what you were doing. You entered your local office pool, or your family pool, or the ESPN pool for a million dollars, or whatever. Whatever the reason, or no matter how many pools you entered, or how much you know about basketball, I can pretty much guarantee you this: chances are, the more you know, the worse you did. Think I’m crazy? You shouldn’t. I didn’t even look twice at a bracket. I stayed away from all pools. It’s funny, because I play ball everyone wants me in their pool. “Bet I can beat Rod Benson.” Chances are if I was in your pool you would have beaten me, simply because I know more about college basketball than you. Heck, I was there just last year. That means I would make rational choices for my picks and throw in a couple unlikely, but highly educated upsets. All of which means nothing in the end.

The biggest bracket site I know of would be Facebook is a social networking website the started with elite colleges, like UC Berkeley, and has no ballooned to include J.C.’s, High Schools, and Corporations. The good thing about Facebook is that it details which networks perform the best, which friends perform the best, and so on. After taking a look at the numbers, I had no choice but to conclude certain things about who wins pools.

I don’t exactly know how Facebook comes up with their score system, but the top score in the country was a 177 by some kid named Jacob Dodson. The next two were 175 by Kelly Doolan at UWM and Katie Hollander at Missouri St. Actually 7 of the top 10 were women. Now is it crazy to think that women know more about college basketball than men? No. But If you had to bet on which gender would score higher, you would guess men. The highest score at UC Berkeley belongs to Annette Konoske-Graf. Since she is in my network, I can see her page. Her “status” reads: “Annette is surprised by her own bracket.” Why should she be surprised? Probably because she doesnt really know a damn thing about who Lee Humphrey is, or how many assists Darren Collison averages, or how Brandan Wright’s wingspan can cause problems for opposing power forwards. See, she, like many other people I know who have done well in pools, might have some crazy way of filling it out. “I have a cat named statie so I’m going to pick Ohio State because they remind me of my cat.” “I think Greg Oden looks too old and I like Noah’s hair so I’ll pick them.” The list goes on. An hour before the championship, the Berkeley leader was Sarah Branon. If Ohio State had won, she would have been the Berkeley winner. On her page it said that she used an ouija board to pick her winners. I sent her a message, because no way did she actually use an ouija board. Well she wrote be back with “I actually didn’t use an Ouija board...I actually do kind of follow basketball.”

That’s interesting to note. She does actually kind of follow basketball. Well those kind-of’s have a lot more success than the people who really do know. Take the DraftExpress pool on Facebook. The highest score was a 166, followed by a 158, 153, and 139. My boy Mike Schmidt scored a measly 123. He writes scouting articles on the NCAA almost on a daily basis, yet an ouija board crushed him. In fact, if I had to pick who would be most likely to win, it would be someone out of this pool or a similar one, because they are paid to follow the NCAA and determine who’s the best. Their median score is 128. Note that you can only see the score for the top 20 of any group, meaning that the median score of 128 is only for the top 20 of the group.. a more realistic median would be around 104 for the entire group of 64. 64 experts can only balance out at 104. How do they compare to average Joes? Well...

It would seem that the less educated you are, in general, the better chances you have to do well. The corporate networks (those networks containing people who are currently employed by a major company, a.k.a. highly educated people) scored the worst. Wells Fargo network led all corporations with a 98.364 score followed by Walt Disney company with 97.78. University of Florida, of course, led all colleges with 127.231 followed by some Junior College that’s nearby with 124.777 but they are outliers because of course they would pick UF to win it. The next highest college is at 110, so I will say that they are truly the best college. But then there are the high school kids. 10 different high schools averaged 113 or better.

So the most educated score the lowest, the experts get 104, the best college kids get 110, and the high school kids make a killing with 22 averaging higher than 110. Why do these kids do so well? Simple, because they don’t know a damn thing about college basketball. They make their decisions based on nothing more than what Jay Bilas and Andy Katz say mixed in with a little Ouija board. Those Wells Fargo execs obviously based their predictions on previous tourneys that they had watched. The tried to be smarter about it and really research. The experts? Too informed to be good. Their better judgment would never have had Winthrop in the sweet 16 or Wisconsin out before the elite 8. I guess that’s just how it goes. As for me? I enjoyed the tourney more than ever, because I was bracket free.

Even more Rod Benson

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