It’s NCAA tourney time.
If you want to win a big pool, you have to take some measured risks, especially if you pick a conventional favorite to win it all.
In a year without a clear-cut favorite, it behooves you to make value picks that will separate you from the rest of the field.
(And no, picking a four-seed to beat a five-seed in round 2 doesn’t count).
A great man once said only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly. In virtual sports competition and life, the road to mediocrity is well-traveled. Straying from the status-quo and embracing the unknown is the surest way to uncommon success.
A risk-driven strategy introduces volatility to your bracket that will move you to one end of the competition or the other.
Is there a chance you’ll flame out by the end of the first weekend? Yes.
But unless you’re playing in a pool with only five people, there is no virtue in finishing just out of the top few spots in your pool; the prize money for finishing in dead last or eighteenth place is usually the same:
Maximize your chances of winning prize money by mixing strong contenders who can make a run with unpopular, under-valued teams in the middle rounds. Unless you’re a clairvoyant, you’re not picking a perfect bracket. Reasoned contrarianism carries the day. This strategy is especially valuable if you’re in a pool that gives extra weight to upsets.
It’s the reason I didn’t pick Louisville (the #1 overall seed) to win this year. There is no prohibitive favorite, like Kentucky’s 2012 team or Florida 2007 team, so it makes sense to avoid ‘em when all of ESPN’s “experts” and nearly half of America’s got them finishing on top.
I watch zero college basketball, never grew up rooting for a team, and my alma mater is better known for its prowess in another sport, yet I’ve won big pools in the past few years and was an Ohio State Collapse away from cleaning up again in 2012.
Hopefully, my bracket isn’t rendered worthless by tomorrow.