Bracket Busted? You Shoulda Saw That Coming
Confession: I almost ate an entire box of Cheez-It Zingz crackers when I sat down to write this in front of a little college basketball. At least I could have. But what the hey, it would have been a better decision than picking No. 11 Dayton, No. 12 Harvard and No. 12 NDSU ALL to win on the first day.
Such is life in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Someone said this morning on a radio program that this was “the best three weeks in sports.” I disagree. Sort of. I would argue that the best part of the NCAA Tournament takes place over a 96-hour span that decides who goes from 64 teams to 32 to the Sweet Sixteen.
The rest of the tournament is great to watch, but you simply cannot replicate the upsets and drama that comes in the opening rounds, especially on Thursday and Friday.
Northern Iowa over top-ranked Kansas in 2010 – second round. Bryce Drew nailing a three at the buzzer to give Valparaiso a win over Ole Miss in 1998 – first round. 15 seed Santa Clara downing No. 2 seed Arizona in 1993 – first round.
To have a classic upset, you have to have a big discrepancy in seeds, and that happens only in the first two rounds. And how it happens, every single year, in mind-boggling.
Enjoy the basketball over the next three days, cause it doesn’t get any better.
Odds Not in Your Favor
I’m a huge numbers guy, and I thoroughly believe in probability, as well as the due theory (most of the time).
Which is why I’m kicking myself today for picking Louisville to go to the Final Four out of a loaded Midwest bracket this year. Why shouldn’t I (or anyone) bet on last year’s champion to return to the Final Four? Because of one simple improbability – if they make it, it means they have won 10 tournament games in a row.
That won’t happen, simply according to probability and odds.
How about Wichita State? I know, most of you (all of you) didn’t pick them to return to the Final Four. Me neither. But we were all looking at the gauntlet they would have to go through, as well as the fact that they haven’t played anyone this season. Forget about the fact that they’re due for a loss, having gone 34-0, meaning that they would have to continue that winning streak for at least another four games, as well as run their record to 42-1 over their last 43 contests (including 8-1 in tournament games).
Not happening. Seriously, if Wichita State were 33-1, with a loss in February to anyone, it would be better. Get that loss out of the way. The due theory does take its toll.
Of course that didn’t work for the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl or the Washington Generals, ever.
Then there’s Michigan State, which seems to be the darling of just about everyone’s bracket picks this year. A four seed. And they are being picked by just about everyone to win the East regional.
So I picked No. 1 East seed Virginia to win the regional. It’s not a due theory thing. It’s not a probability thing. I just figure I might have a better shot to win my bracket by picking against everyone else. With a No. 1 seed. Call me crazy.
Twelve Over Five
We all know one of the main rules when picking a bracket – always pick at least one 12 seed to beat a five. How often does it happen? Well, it happened twice Thursday.
The big picture – only three times in the last 30 years (including 2014), has there not been a 12-over-five upset (1988, 2000, 2007). In fact, there have been MORE No. 12s beat fives than fives over 12 in those 30 years!
What’s a Quintillion?
Someone over at Quicken Loans is an absolute genius. We already knew Warren Buffett was. Offering $1 billion for anyone that fills out a perfect bracket is child’s play.
The odds of picking a perfect bracket – one in 9.2 quintillion. OK. What the heck is that? I don’t know, but it sounds like I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. Twice.
What’s the big deal? All you have to do is PICK 63 GAMES CORRECTLY. Uh huh. And I thought a six-team teaser in Vegas was hard during football season.
No. 12 North Dakota State defeated No. 5 Oklahoma at about 8:30 pm. Shortly after, ESPN tweeted out that 41,315 perfect brackets remained at that time. Sounds like a lot, right? But that’s out of 11 million entries.
So, that meant that 99.725409 percent of all of their entries were already busted from any chance of perfection. And that was with only 12 games of 16 gone final to begin the tournament on day one.
What will Friday bring? Warren Buffett is chuckling somewhere. The Quicken Loans marketing guy? He’s probably upset about one of those 12 seeds beating a 5 that he had going to the Elite Eight Why didn’t he see that coming?
Now, where is that box of Cheez-Its? Friday’s games are about to start.