Everyone fills out brackets this time of year. But almost everyone uses a flawed scoring system to pick the winner. Come on over to Blue vs Blue at the ESPN site: (you will have to register at ESPN if you haven't already)
Group Name: BluevsBlue
The REASON you should join us, is our scoring system is just plain better than anyone else out there. Check it out:
We've always thought it was bunk that picking straight chalk should be worth the same as having the cahones to, say, pick George Mason into the Final Four a few years ago. So over the years we've worked out a system that is perhaps our greatest contribution to mankind. And it’s the reason our bracket challenge is better than everyone else’s: not every winner is weighted the same. We reward people for correctly picking upsets, or more precisely for picking teams that perform better than their seed would indicate. Here’s how it works:
Round of 64 winner - 10 Points
Round of 32 winner - 20 Points
Sweet Sixteen winner - 40 Points
Elite Eight winner - 100 Points
Final Four winner - 200 Points
Champion - 400 Points
Pretty Standard so far, but the plot thickens. The bonus points for each round work as follows: If you correctly pick a lower seeded team advancing beyond what it’s seed number would suggest, then you get bonus points. The bonus points are always half the value for that round multiplied by difference of the seed number from the expected value for that round. Say what?? Everyone lost? Here’s how it works in real life:
Say you pick South Dakota State (13) over suddenly vulnerable Michigan(4). The bonus points for correctly choosing a lower seed would be 5pts (half the value for round 1) X 5 (difference of the Jackrabbits seed from the expected ‘seed value’ of seeds found in the first round: 13-8=5). That would earn you 25 bonus points for a total of 35 for that single game. Our thinking is that correctly picking a 13 over a 4 is the same ‘value’ as getting 3 1/2 games of all chalk correct.
(Note: 8 vs 9 games are excluded from ‘upset’ status. These are always pick em games anyway)
Now to make sure people don't just go crazy picking every upset across the board in hopes of hitting the jackpot, there is a one time bonus of 100 points given to the person who picks the most opening round games correct.
Now the Second Round:
Picking any teams seeded 1-4 net no bonus points. They are supposed to be there.
I have now picked the SD State to continue its run to the Sweet Sixteen, an low and behold they do it! I get 20 pts for the win in 2nd round. The bonus points are now 10 (half the points for that round) X 9 (difference between their seed  and the expected ‘seed value’ of teams supposed to be winning second round games  13-4=9). So the second round upset win nets me a bundle with 90 bonus points. I know that sounds like a lot – but there should be a reward for correctly identifying teams that are going to out-perform their seeding.
Now the Bonus is 20 (half the 40 pt value of correctly picking Elite 8 teams) X (Actual Seed# minus 2 [since the teams expected to be in the final eight would be all 1 or 2 seeds])
So staying with our example – South Dakota State in the Elite 8 would give you 20 X 11 (13-2) bonus points, for an eye-popping 260 points for that pick. Hold the phone you are saying. That is crazy. Well it might be. We are always open to refining the system. But shouldn’t correctly choosing SD State into the Elite 8 be worth the same as boringly picking Louisville to get to the Semi Finals. Which is more likely?? Exactly.
With our scoring, for example, someone who correctly picked VCU to get the the Final Four two years ago would probably have amassed so many points with that pick, that choosing the eventual champ probably wouldn’t matter. And to my mind that is fine. If you had picked that, you deserve to win.
Fourth round and beyond:
Bonus for regional finals and Final Four is set at 50 X (Seed# – 1) So the Jackrabbits to the final four would net you 50 X 12 (13-1) bonus points. Yes that is not a mistake – 600 bonus points. See above VCU example. Correctly picking a #2 to go to the Final Four though – would net you a more reasonable 50 bonus points (50 X (2-1) which is an appropriate reward in my mind.