My thoughts on betting the NCAA Tournament—For entertainment purposes only!
By Bill Smith
There are some basic principles for selecting winners in your office pool. The goal for most guys is to at least be able to place higher than the secretary that makes her picks based on the team colors. Here are 10 thoughts to consider before making your picks.
- The committee has watched more college basketball this year than I have and I am willing in most cases to honor their ranking. Picking upsets is a road to last place in the pool. When in doubt, pick the higher seeded teams.
- If you are going to pick upsets, check out the 8-9 games. The one place you can statistically find upsets in the 8-9 game. The 9 has won more than 55% of those games over the last 20 years.
- Don’t worry about top seed teams that lost early in their conference tournament. Somehow, I don’t let North Carolina falling in the first game of their league tournament worry me. A team’s performance in their league tournament statically has very little to do with how they do in the Dance. Syracuse played their hearts out in the Big East tournament and exhausted themselves. Don’t be surprised if they go out on the first weekend.
- After the first weekend, beware of the one man team. Great players no longer stay in college 3 or 4 years for the most part. As a result, there are a lot of 1 star teams. Bet bench strength and multiple scorers. History tells us that one man teams get in deep trouble in at least a game or two when that guy, particularly a C or PF, gets into early foul trouble and has to sit. Worse yet, even a big guy can get hurt and miss games. Besides, it is much easier to stop one guy than 3 or 4.
- Live by the 3 point shot, die by a cold shooting night. Teams that rely on 3s for a large percentage of their scoring will have a cold night. They traditionally don’t make it to the final four.
- Offense comes and goes but Defense is more reliable. Great offensive teams can go cold all in the same game. D is based on effort and is drilled into teams from the first practice of the season by some coaches. D focused teams are much more likely to win games where they shoot poorly than high scoring teams. Louisville is a perfect example of a D focused team.
- Bet on the point guard over the center. The tournament is a point guard friendly affair. A great PG gets the ball to the hot shooter and can make up for a bad game by a big shooter.
- Listen to the experts. Watch ESPN, and listen to Sporting News and ESPN radio for expert analysis of the field. They are paid to watch and evaluate the field. They see more games in person than the average fan sees on TV all season. Take their advice.
- Check out who Vegas thinks will win. Those guys bet their jobs on their picks because if they are wrong, it costs their employer a lot of cash. They know a lot more the we do.
- Third time’s the charm. Fill out a bracket and put it away for a day. Then fill out another. Then pick the best picks from both of those two for your “official” bracket. Save all three. Next year, see if your first impressions were better than your over thought picks.
Good luck and if these thoughts make you money, I have a Pay-Pal account and all donations are gratefully accepted.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]