Beginners Guide to the NCAA Pool

Some of you, I’ve learned, have never done an office pool for the NCAA tournament and don’t know the Big East from the Far East. So here’s the deal. There are 64 teams (actually 65, but one has already been eliminated) in the tournament. If a team loses a game, it’s out. After the first round, then, there will be 32 teams, then 16, and so on. You just have to decide which teams will advance each round until there is only one champion left.

They make it easy for you. On the bracket each team has a little number next to it, a “seed.” This tells you how good they are supposed to be. The lowest numbers are the best, so the four number-one seeds—UNC, Kansas, Ohio State, and Florida—are supposed to be the best four teams (There are four of each seed because the tournament is divided into four regions. The winners of each region—the Final Four—go on to Atlanta to play). Of course, it doesn’t always work out that the “best” teams win. In the last ten years the four number-one teams have never been the Final Four teams. At least one of them always loses along the way. Still, the odds are in their favor. A number-one team, for example, has never lost to a number-sixteen team.

So my advice is: go with the lower number most of the time, but not always. And use your psychic powers.

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