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Sunday, March 12, 2006

NCAA Tourney Pools

ESPN.com writer Pat Forde gives his advice on filling in your office NCAA bracket:
"Picking all-out anarchy is fun, but rarely profitable. At least one No. 1 seed has made each of the past 25 Final Fours.

"Then again, picking nothing but favorites won't win the prize, either. Since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979, all four No. 1 seeds have never made it. (Three have only made it three times, all in the 1990s.) In 26 out of 27 years, at least one team seeded third or lower has made the Final Four.

"If you throw out two fluke years (1980 and 2000, each of which had three teams seeded fifth or lower) and one super-chalky year (1993, when three No. 1s and a No. 2 advanced) the average Final Four seeds have been remarkably consistent. They have ranged from 1.8 to 3.8 per team.

"So after you pick your Final Four, do some quick addition on the seeds of those teams. If they add up to less than seven (say, two No. 2s and two No. 1s) or more than 15 (say, a No. 8, a No. 5, a No. 2 and a No. 1), start over."

This advice makes sense -- if your office pool is won by whoever gets closest to the average seed of the Final Four teams. Since no pool works that way, it's bad. The point isn't to know that at least one three or lower seed is likely to make it, but guess which team that is. Unless you think you can do that, the best thing is to pick all one seeds, since more one seeds make it than any other.

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