Monday, March 16, 2009

Some Fun Facts About March Madness

So you want to win your office pool this year? Need a little help? We've got a few tips for you on what upsets to take to help you rake in the company money. 

First off, you should know that last year MSNBC projected a productivity loss during the NCAA Tournament of $1.7 billion. Yes, billion with a b. Obviously, when the tournament begins to play during office hours on Thursday and Friday, many employees will be slacking a little bit on their normal office duties--even in an economy that could see them being laid off for doing so. CBS offers games online and via mobile devices, making it that much easier to deceive your boss. 

But it starts much earlier than that. Like today, when you're reading an article on a relatively obscure gambling blog instead of filing those reports. 

Secondly, we should let you know your odds upfront. There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possibilities when it comes to filling out your brackets. That equals 9.2 quintillion to 1 odds on selecting every game perfectly. Have you ever even heard of a quintillion before?

We looked a some 2008 stats from and have updated them for this year, and here's what we found:

  • The 16 seeds are a combined 0-96 in the tournament, up against those mighty 1 seeds in the first round. Plain and simple: don't bet on them. Even if you have an inside tip that the 1 seed is throwing the game, they'll still probably win by accident. Plus, you would be  caught for being involved in the scheme, because seriously, who bets on the 16 seed? Expect them to be 0 for 100 after Friday. 
  • 15 seeds aren't much better. boasting a 4 for 96 success rate. If you're a betting man, which you are because it's March, stick with those terrible 2's. 
  • Combined, 16 and 15 seeds are a whopping 4 for 192, which means you have just over a 2% chance of hitting one of these. Don't get cute. 
  • Everyone knows this one: take a 12 seed over a 5. Over the last eight years, 12 seeds have won 13 of 32 matchups, which is 41%. This means that there's actually a better chance of two 12 seeds winning than just one. At this point, since everybody knows about the 12 seed magic, it's as much a psychological thing as it is factual. Don't you think players and coaches of 5 seeded teams are a little bit more on edge than usual? And don't you think that those players and coaches of 12 seeds have that little extra bit of hope? Not only that, but even when it comes to seeding the teams, don't you think the committee thinks a little bit longer when deciding what a good 5/12 matchup will be? We certainly do. 
  • If you do take a 12 seed, go ahead, take them again. 12 seeds that win in the first round have won more than half of the time in the second round. To be exact, they are 16 of 31, a 52% success rate. Same goes for 10 seeds that you pick to advance past round one. Why stop there? 10 seeds have won in the second round exactly half the time, or 16 of 32 times if you don't reduce your fractions. 
  • Don't pick those high seeds to go to the Final Four. Only 2 of 96 final four teams have been seeded lower than 8. In the last 23 years, no team lower than a 6 has advanced to the Championship game. 
  • One or more 1 seeds have made the Final Four in 20 of the last 24 years, including last year, when all four made it for the first time. When in doubt, stick with the 1 seeds.
Hopefully, these fun March Madness facts will help you make informed decisions when it comes to filling out your brackets and winning your office pools, wasting comapny time and money in the process. Good luck!


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