Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NCAA Tournament Picks - A Precursor

I love systems. Back in the good old days when the NCAA tournament was 64 teams I had a great dare I say perfect 120 point system for scoring the NCAA tournament picks. There were 6 rounds. 32 games and winners in the first round. 16 in the second. Eight in the third. four in the fourth. Two in the semifinals and one game in the 6th round to determine the eventual champion. If you pick a team to go to the second round and they do you get 1 point if they don't zero. Pick a second round winner and you get two more points. Three for third round winners. 4 for when your team advanced to the final four. Five if they make it to the Championship game. Six more if the won it all.

So if you picked Duke to win it all last year, like I did you would net 21 points on the Blue Devils alone. I love my system because it was incremental and elegant. I loved the way the numbers broke down per round 32 possible points in round 1 32 more in round 2. Which made for 64 possible points in the opening weekend. 24 possible points in round 3 and16 more were available to the successful prognosticator in round 4 for 40 total points in the second weekend of the tournament.
In my system, many people are eliminated by the second weekend as there are only 16 points available onc you whittle the teams to four. It's how you pick the second and third round that often make you victorious among your peers.

When a few years back they expanded the field to 65, I had no real problem with it. The play-in game was scored as a1/2 point if you picked the victor. This would make for an excellent tie-breaker.

This year the field was expanded to 68 teams and instead of a tiebreaker a 7th round was added to the schedule. Using my current system it made for a rather inelegant 122 point tournament. Revamping my system to have 1 point for round 1 winners 2 point for second round winners up to 7 for the champion yielded a cumbersome 171 point total. The point distribution was very lopsided as well with 96 points in rounds 2 and 3 alone. I was going mad trying to decide between the two flawed systems and each time I would explain it to my wife, she would say you need guys!

I finally figured out a great system for scoring a 68 team single elimination tournament. At least one that has 64 teams in the second round. 1/2 point for picking a round 1 winner 1 point for a round 2 winner and 1.5 points more for making it the sweet sixteen. 2 points for picking a team who makes it all the way to the elite 8, 3 points for picking a final four team, 4 points for your team making it all the way to the championship game and 6 points for winning the whole ball of wax.

It's incremental, but not elegant and what I like best about it: The total points of the tournament now equal 100 which turns out to be elegant after all. Well at least I have a functional system until the committee messes with the number of teams again.

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