There’s four ways to approach filling out your bracket. Go with the favorites across the board. That’s what I usually do, I’ll go with the stronger teams. But I’ve learned that’s an “NBA Eighth Seed” strategy. Meaning, you won’t embarrass yourself, but you’ll never come close to the gold. I got sick of “I did okay” every stinkin season.
The second strategy is the “Upset Drunk” strategy. Just go for upsets all over the place. Try to run some really unlikely teams all the way into the Elite Eight and possibly further. That’s not gonna work, the majority of games do not end result in upsets.
The third strategy is an offshoot of the second. Its the “Go with your hunches” strategy. To do well with this one, you have to be lucky and you have to basically be an avid fan of college basketball, which I am not.
The strategy I attempted this season is the one advocated every season by Slate.com. It is the “Strategic Upsets” strategy. This is where you go with the stronger team in the majority of games, but strategically divert from that with what you believe to be sensible upsets. And, the key to this strategy is to ultimately pick a top team to win it all, but a team that is generally regarded as just below the prohibitive favorites (I chose Michigan State. I think Slate was advising people to go with Ohio State).
This strategy can win you the pool, or it can also land you at the bottom of your pool. This season I’m at the bottom. Here’s the path to a pink shaded bracket.
This season there were ten upsets. I picked five upsets. I hit on only two of them. Meaning, I misdiagnosed three non-upsets and then missed on eight true upsets. Then, to make matters worse, further up the bracket I went with “sensible” surprise teams that were less regarded but who had seemingly proven strength (Wichita St., UNLV). Flame out.
I mean, the sum total of it is this. I literally could have flipped a coin for every game and done better. But, I’d do the same thing over again. That’s just the vagaries of one-off tournaments. Sometimes you’re the front bumper, and sometimes you’re the deer. (Actually, that’s a bad metaphor, because in a normal deer-on-car crash, BOTH the deer AND the front bumper lose!)