March Madness Methodologies · 18 March 2012

Everybody has a method to filling out their NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets. My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, thought she would start paying attention to the scores and standings before March came around after last year’s foray into the madness. That thought did not last long, but it made me think that there really are several legitimate methods to the madness.

Each year, members of our staff have a bragging rights bracket. And each year we hear about the different methods people use to choose fill out their brackets. After hearing my wife talk about following the scores and such, I thought she might be secretly getting in on the Pundit Method. People who use this method follow the box scores and listen to the pundits give their opinions on who should win which games. Lots of avid sports fans use this method. And even though she said she was going to follow college basketball more this year, it certainly is not the methodology The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi uses.

I do not use the Pundit Method either. I tend to use a less data driven approach. If they were being nice, my colleagues would call it the Home Team Method. I tend to pick my favorite teams and coaches whether the pundits say it makes sense or not, whether their seedings justify the picks or not, because I hate to root against my teams for the sake of my bracket. Yes, that means I picked my alma mater to win it all each of the last couple years. And even though I never win bragging rights, I do not always finish at the bottom either. Even though I use this method.

My brackets did not fare very well against my wife and son last year either, so I figured I ought to discover what methods, if any, they have. My son, Thing 2, just picks whoever. At least that is what I think he does. He does not pick the better seed in every game, but uses some method known only to him. It is the Thing 2 Method. He is confident in his method. So confident that not only does he believe he will beat his mother and me, he thinks he can beat everybody. He figured he could be one of he people to get every pick correct and got in on our bragging rights bracket at work. Of course, if he wins our work bracket, I will ask that he not get invited next year so he can pick for me.

My wife was going to use the Color Method this year after she decided against the Pundit Method. She even went so far as to look up every team to find their mascots and color schemes. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi lamented the fact that there were so many teams with the same colors causing her to abandon the Color Method. Besides the fact that so many teams have the same color, the method cannot work because nobody really knows whether red beats blue or orange beats green. There is no science that says which beats which.

After throwing out the Color Method, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi decided to use the tried and true Mascot Method. The Mascot Method seems to get bracket picks right with about the same frequency as the Pundit Method, and so should be considered a legitimate strategy. (Over the years, I remember several staff members, who use the Pundit Method, lamenting the fact that their spouses did as well or better using any other method, including mascot.) In the Mascot Method, the person filling out the bracket uses his or her best judgment to determine which mascot could beat the other in a fight. The person looks at a Husky and a Cougar or an Orangeman and a Blue Devil and decides which would win. It sounds like a silly method to the pundit and those who follow that method, but it works about as well during the NCAA basketball tournaments.

There are several methods to the madness that is college basketball tournament brackets. Bracketologists throughout the country have decided who will beat whom in each of the games of the tournament. And they all chose winners in different ways. In the end, it does not really matter which methodology people use. The teams must play the games to determine the winners and final champion.

When my champion is not crowned and my brackets at work and at home end up scoring the least (as they often have), I might decide that I need a better system. Maybe I will follow my wife’s or son’s. Or maybe one of the other legitimate methods I have described. In the end though, it does not really matter. Like everybody else, I have my own March Madness Methodology.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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