March 25, 2013

BLOG: No playing it safe when picking NCAA Tournament

The Express-Star

— I decided to go safe on my NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket this season.

In the past, I’ve always looked down on filling out a bracket that didn’t predict a healthy number of unlikely upsets. Not this year.

I looked at the scoring system on the Yahoo Tourney Pick’Em site, where I fill out my bracket. It doesn’t award any extra points for upsets. It only rewards picking the most advancing teams.

So I picked a few minor upsets in the first and second rounds, nothing ground-breaking. A few 9, 10 or 11 seeds winning their opening games and a few 6 or 7 seeds winning in the second round. (I realize that because of the four play-in games, the traditional first round is now called the second round. I refuse to acknowledge that, though. For purposes of this blog, the first round is the round of 64.)

The first day of the tournament went very well. I only had one incorrect pick, which was a result of me betraying my Sooner roots and picking Oklahoma State to advance all the way to the Sweet 16.

It all fell apart over the next few days, however, and I currently stand with only 31 out of 48 picks correct. So much for going safe; the Sweet 16 includes a 9, 12, 13 and, for the first time ever, a 15-seed.

I should have known the tournament seeds and regular season rankings were almost meaningless. With no elite team keeping its best players for more than a year or two, rankings that are largely based on what a team did last year aren’t very helpful.

Maybe next year, instead of playing it safe or trying to be risky, I’ll pick the tournament with a more reasonable mentality that being right or wrong depends mostly on blind luck.