So, the season of March Madness basketball is upon the U.S., and with it comes the inevitable filling out of the NCAA bracket. Whether it’s for a work pool or a friend pool (or both), people really shouldn’t take too much time on agonizing over their decisions of what players to put where. Because in the end, anyone could win Buffet’s million, whether they know anything about basketball or not.
Let’s recap for those who are unaware: for the past few years, Warren Buffet’s company, Quicken Loans, has advertised that they will give a billion dollars to anyone who can correctly pick the winners of each game. If people take a look at the NCAA bracket, that’s 61 games they would have to guess the correct winner of. Sure, they’ve got a 50-50 shot each time, and there are some that might be obvious, like how a team ranked number one has never lost to a team ranked 16, but the odds of getting every single one right are astronomical. Not to mention that if they get a single one wrong early on, it will affect the rest of the bracket as well. So even if they happen to be the hippest person with all the basketball knowledge in the world, upsets happen, which is what makes this billion not much of a gamble at all for Buffet and Quicken Loans.
There are some groups out there who are advertising a smart way to beat the odds by offering to send everyone who signs up a specific bracket, and if they get enough people, they’ll cover at least most of the odds and have a better chance of winning. This isn’t the smartest idea. If a million people win a million dollars in the lottery, guess how much each person gets? That’s right, a dollar. And that’s before taxes. And if that bracket, computer generated, does happen to be the winner, what’s to force the winner to share with the others? After all, according to the rules of the billion giveaway, it’s illegal to be colluding with others in this type of way. When filling out a NCAA bracket, for a billion or for fun, it’s best not to take too much time on it.
Let’s take, for example, a friend who doesn’t know much about basketball, and when filling out family brackets, which she’s forced to do every year in a family full of Madness fans, she prefers to make her decisions based upon which mascot she thinks would win in a fight. A gator verses a great dane? Yeah, that dog’s going down. And the scary thing is that she does just as well (and sometimes better) with her bracket as her father and her brothers, the self-confessed fanatics who spend hours agonizing over every game decision after the Sweet 16.
The takeaway advice here? Don’t take too much time on filling out an NCAA bracket. Make the logical seeding choice to start with, but then have some fun with it. Predict some upsets, because the brackets have never been seeded to form. And don’t be a bad loser if a bracket gets messed up early on, because really, there’s no way to predicted the outcome.
Opinion piece by Marisa Corley
The Washington Post