If you're going to be in a large pool this year, say, one with 30+ people participating in it, you're going to have to do something to differentiate yourself from the crowd. One way to do that? By picking a different champion than most of America. Sure, Ohio State looks like it has the statistical backup to be the best team in America, but it's also likely overvalued based on how many people are picking them to win. So who should you pick? What about the Texas Longhorns? Chris Wilson explains:â†µ
Again, your overall strategy should be to look for situations where the national bracket values a team much higher than the objective statistics. (I should stipulate that all of this advice assumes standard NCAA pool rules, where the points for a correct guess double each round, from one point in the first to 32 for the final game.) For example, at the moment only 1.8 percent of all the participants in ESPN's Tournament Challenge have picked Texas to win the tournament-the right-most column on this table. Pomeroy's log5 analysis of the tournament, by contrast, gives the Longhorns a 5.8 percent chance of winning it all. This makes Texas a fantastic bargain, even if their odds of winning the title are still remote-while cold-blooded, numerical analysis gives Texas a 1-in-17 shot at the title, only one in 56 people have picked them to win. As such, the Longhorns are the most- undervalued asset in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.:â†µ
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean Texas will follow through and win; they're a total rollercoaster ride. But if you're going to be in a large pool, you have a lot to gain by trying out some reasonable second-tier champions rather than going with Ohio State or Kansas. You're essentially guaranteeing yourself a win if Texas wins it all; you can't say that about the No. 1 seeds. Should Texas be able to string together competent offense with the all-world defense they played earlier this season, anything could happen.â†µ
Or you could just pick Duke again. I mean, it always helps to have an emotional hedge to losing your national champion: I was happy if I won money, and I was happy if Duke lost. Either way I won.