This year marks the first time that I watched a basketball game in its entirety (excepting the one college game I went to while at UVa), and the first time I participated in a March Madness pool. Drawing on absolutely zero knowledge of basketball, I still managed to place THIRD overall out of 22 and rake in $11 worth of winnings. Woo! Let’s take a look at the science behind my bracket and how it shot to the top.
Round 1, known as the “Way Too Many Games” round, had a few surprises for my awesome bracket. Of the teams I picked incorrectly, half I had never even heard of and thus should not count: Siena, Cleveland State, Dayton, and West Kentucky. However, I correctly picked “upsets” by Arizona and Wisconsin (so called because they made their opponents really “upset.”) Overall, I had 24 correct picks (75%, better than luck), and they were all schools that I had heard of (except for Gonzaga, which I am still convinced is made up.)
Round 2 was even sweeter. If you do not know about fancy basketball terms like “free throws” and “RBI,” do not worry, I can help you. To predict what teams are going to go to this round, you look at the little number next to their names. This is called their “seed.” All of the teams with “good seed” (that is, 4 or higher) made it to this round, except Washington and Wake Forest. Only three of my picks did not make it (81.25% correct, even better! Yay!).
Round 3 is what is called the “sweet sixteen.” Here is where all the “4” seeds drop out, according to science. For instance, the #1 Louisville Cardinals beat the #12 Arizona Wildcats. (Even though a cardinal could never beat a wildcat in real life. It would not even have a chance. (Confusingly, Arizona’s pro football team is the Cardinals, and the University of Kentucky, which is not far from Louisville, is… you guessed it… the Wildcats.)) This round, I guessed 6 out of 8 correctly. Back to 75%.
I do not have much to say about Round 4. This is where the laws of science failed. I picked Pittsburgh, but they lost to Villanova 76-78, a statistically insignificant number that would cause any reasonable human being to demand a redo. Louisville, which was my pick at #1, lost to Michigan State, which was #2, but Connecticut, which was #1, beat Memphis, which was #2. Is there no God? Even the President picked Memphis.
In Round 5 (they have pretty much stopped calling them rounds by now, this one was called the “semifinal”) I only had North Carolina left, and they won, so that went pretty well. They beat Villanova by an embarrassingly large number (14) which makes up a little bit for earlier.
Round 6, the championship game, was upon us. The team with the tall goofy white dude scored lots of goals (“baskets”) very quickly, and the team in the green couldn’t do much about it. North Carolina, which was the team that won, was apparently everyone’s “favorite” team and so I guess most people were pretty happy. Anyway, I was pretty happy, because I picked them and so we both won, them the game and me an $11 third place prize. Hooray for basketball!