I finished second in our company NCAA pool this week. Thought I had it all locked up…until Ohio State blew it!

How did you do at yours?

What was your secret method?

I think we had 31 folks battle it out for company bragging rights and I am pretty sure I am the only one spoiled enough to attend two Final Fours. But it was so long ago that it was actually the last time Kentucky won the entire shebang.

Nevertheless, I had to go with the flow and pick Kentucky to win it all. But the rest of my picks were more or less random. So I thought I would ask some of my team how they went at it. Needless to say, the approaches were both random and humourous.

Of course I couldn’t resist some editorial feedback!


TrojanOne Employee #1:
“I stumbled upon Obama’s bracket and swapped in some of my own picks based on a few Yahoo Sports videos and even fewer gut feelings.”

MH3: Ummm…Obama picked UNC.

TrojanOne Employee #2: “Without giving away all of my winning secrets, here is the thinking that went into my March Madness selections.

Being a very casual NCAA Basketball fan, my depth of knowledge of the field was not that strong. However, being an avid sports fan in general, I was aware of who the powerhouses were. Due to this lack of expertise, I trusted the NCAA rankings when looking at higher seeds and took a few flyers on close match-ups (the 7 vs. 10, 6 vs. 11, 5 vs. 12 match-ups). I find that the 8 vs. 9 match-ups are always a toss-up and they are bound to lose to the #1 seed in round two anyways, so those picks – being worth only one pound in round one – are relatively inconsequential. As the tournament progresses, each game/win is worth more points, so I tried to nail the Elite 8 and onwards, while being a little risky with picks in the early round(s).

In a nut shell, my early round picks were based on taking the heavy favourite and picking a few upsets as determined by Canadians on team rosters and teams that I have an affinity to for some reason or another.

If you look at my bracket, I struggled mightily in the early rounds, as the upsets that I picked did not go according to plan. However, the high seeds that I picked continued to win, which got me significant points in the later rounds. Having three of the Final Four, both finalists and picking the champion ended up being enough to get me to first place.

Let me know if you need me to elaborate at all.”

MH3: No need to elaborate, I fell asleep reading this!

TrojanOne Employee #3: “Prior to this year I have never done a NCAA pool. This year I felt compelled to join my co-workers in an office bonding/team building sense. The water cooler chats, email heckling and of course “the big board” make the office a fun place to be! It also made me more engaged with the actual tournament. I felt myself tuning in more on TV and checking the ticker, etc. I couldn’t believe that I was in the top five at one point, considering I couldn’t name more than a half a dozen players in the tourney! I am not sure if that speaks to my prognostication skills or the lack thereof with some of my co-workers!

Overall, I am a huge pool guy and I don’t usually say “No” to any of them!! (I am just glad someone else organized this one!)”


MH3: Did you get any work done this month?

TrojanOne Employee #4: “Since my basketball knowledge is pitiful at best, I chose based on places I’ve been or have some kind of connection to and names of schools/mascots that I liked.

Although it didn’t turn out to be the best approach, I DID manage to pick Kansas for the final two – this was because I enjoy the movie the Wizard of Oz. Pathetic?”

MH3: Thanks Dorothy!

TrojanOne Employee #5: “I BBMed a friend who told me “Kentucky or Ohio will take it this year.” So I picked Kentucky. I also feel like 2012 is a good year for me so I took a chance with the $10 I don’t even have…

Then the ladies sitting around me and I picked teams with nice team colours, better sounding names and sometimes looked at their places (wouldn’t put a first place team losing to an 11th placed one).

I guess it was a good theory (thus far)!”

MH3: Guess I shouldn’t take money from our interns!

TrojanOne Employee #6: “I picked my teams based on tournament results from previous years.

My one finalist (Kansas) was based on trying to be different from the pack (and it’s paid off).

Finally when I couldn’t decide, I flipped a quarter, which is now taped to my cubicle!”

MH3: Lucky loonie take a back seat!

TrojanOne Employee #7: “My system was simple. Pick upsets not more than two seeds apart, and distribute them evenly across all regions. It made sense (in theory). Hope it helps.”

MH3: Are you upset you lost?

TrojanOne Employee #8: “Tried to pick teams I didn’t think others would pick so I would make points up in later rounds (backfired).”

MH3: Sneaky!

TrojanOne Employee #9: “Mine is very sad. Syracuse – heart pick…used to work there. Most of the rest, I went with the odds….”

MH3: Need a tissue?

TrojanOne Employee #10:
“If I tell you and I beat you, you won’t be happy.

I don’t follow College Basketball, but March Madness is the best tournament in sports. The first March Madness pool I was in was 11 years ago. I won the pool and I did very little research (if any). Since that first BIG win, I’ve researched the teams, the brackets and the conferences before laying out my bracket (or other format) without ever coming close to the top of the bracket, let alone winning. I know enough about the teams and how the brackets often play out (12 over 5s, 1s and 2s always winning in the first and 2nd rounds – except this year) and decided to go back to my strategy from that first pool and simply filled out my bracket in 10 minutes on a whim – no research.

At the end of the day, it’s about picking the finalists (and of course the winner) and picking top-ranked teams that nobody else is likely to take to win the whole thing (i.e. Kentucky) for a chance to win.

Fingers crossed on Monday!! It’s either first or bottom of the pool for me.

Go Jayhawks!!”

MH3: Complicated. And you didn’t beat me! (Yes, that was mean…sorry!)

TrojanOne Employee #11: “I picked mine based on mascots and which ones would win in a duel.”

MH3: En Garde!

So, there you have it. Dozens of secrets for next year’s pool!

Now let’s just hope that the Wildcats don’t have to vacate their title due to some “UMASS/Memphis”-style recruiting violations…places a certain coach used to coach.