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Neurotic_David's avatar

How do we adjust our yearly NCAA March Madness Pool given the new format?

Asked by Neurotic_David (2193points) February 10th, 2011

For 14 years, my best friend has run a March Madness bracket pool for friends and family. Everyone knows the deal; we all fill these out at our offices or schools or bars :) A few years ago, they added a Tuesday night “play-in game”. For our pool, we just ignored it.

But starting this year, they’re adding 4 teams into a play-in round, called “The First Four”. It’s two Tuesday night games, feeding into the larger bracket. More importantly, I believe “The First Four” will be the bubble teams, so we’re talking big conference schools who would normally have a 12 seed, but would be excluded as “the last four out”. So this year we’re talking Michigan State or Boston College or some big conference school that’s on the bubble. The play-in game is no longer Northwest Southern Central College vs. Marist (two schools you probably have never heard of, and definitely cannot name a coach or player on the roster).

So we’re struggling with how we should adapt our pool. Is the only way to adjust properly to require everyone to have their sheets in by 6:30pm Tuesday, and this time they have predict the winners of the two play-in games? Or do we continue to ignore its presence, and just let people choose from the main bracket?

What do you think?

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4 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Have them choose the playin games and use this as either a tie breaker or a bonus round. You have to have those games in an hour before tipoff on game day. The rest of the pool can be done like you used to do it.

J0E's avatar

I don’t see why you need to change anything. There was already one play-in game on the bracket, so just fill out a couple more match-ups.

Ivan's avatar


The problem is that, if you require everyone to fill out the play-in games, every bracket would have to be submitted by Tuesday. That only gives people like 2 days to fill their bracket out.

Then again, if you just ignore them, you’re missing 4 whole games that might serve as tie breakers. Not only that, but people might want to pick the play-in teams to win a couple games beyond that. It would feel weird picking TBD to defeat Gonzaga in the first round.

Try this: Ignore the play-in games unless there is a tie. If there is a tie, the person with the better play-in game record wins. If one of the players didn’t bother to pick the play-in games, then their record will be taken as 0–4 (I’m pretty sure there are 4 play-in games). This gives people incentive to fill out the play-in games and submit their brackets early, but doesn’t necessarily require it.

The only hiccup is that people who didn’t fill out the play-in games might want to pick the winner to win the next game as well. This would give those who wait to see who won the play-in games an unfair advantage. The only solution then would be this: If you don’t pick the play-in games, you aren’t allowed to pick the winners to win their next games. Don’t let people pick “TBD” to win either, as that wouldn’t be fair to those who specified exactly which play-in team they picked to win the next game.

I hope all of that was clear, it’s hard to put into words.

Neurotic_David's avatar

Your answer was very clear, Ivan, and beautifully illustrates just how insanely complicated a simple bracket pool can get with this new 68 team format. :)

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