Written by: Tom

NCAA March Madness

A recent study by the employment consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, estimates U.S. firms lose approximately $175 million in productivity during the March Madness tournament.  That’s not all that surprising though with all the office pools and 86% of surveyed workers planning to follow games and scores from work.  So how do you pick the winning bracket in your office?

Sometimes, it’s just best to guess.

There’s a 1 in 4,294,967,296 chance of creating a perfect bracket through the first round.

To put this into perspective, only 2 out of 5.9 million entrants in the espn.com pool correctly picked the Final Four in the 2011 tournament. Upsets are so common, the record for the fewest upsets in any tournament occurred in the 2000 tournament, with only 3.  However, it still typically pays to bet on the #1 seeds, as they have an overall winning percentage of 78.4% during tournaments and have a record of 109-12 during the first round.

It doesn’t always work to pick the higher seed team though, especially as the differential between them shrinks.  In fact, a #9 seed has about a five percentage point winning advantage over a #8 seed team.

So how do I choose my bracket each year?  I always pick teams that have a history of winning in tournaments.  These include:

  • North Carolina
  • Duke
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Michigan State and others.

Even though these teams aren’t guaranteed to do well each year, they typically do more so than not.

As for my picks this year, I have UNC beating Michigan State in the finals.  After all, #1 seeds have won 16 National Championships since 1985 and the three times the finals fell on April 2, a #1 seed was part of it. So why not have two #1 seeds getting there this year?

Here are some more cool stats about the tournament.

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