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Last Chance with Best Bracket Scoring... Ever!

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Contrary to most tourney scoring methods, I have always been a proponent of rewarding people for correctly picking upsets. Choosing the right double digit seed to get to the Sweet Sixteen should be rewarded more than going straight chalk.

Over the years Bart and I have tried to perfect a more balanced scoring system to reflect this. As best we can remember it looks something like this:

  • Correct first round winner - 10 pts
  • Second: 20 pts
  • Sweet 16: 40 pts
  • Elite 8: 100 pts
  • Semis: 200 pts
  • Champ 400 pts

Now 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:

First Round:

Let’s take a popular upset pick: Sienna vs Purdue. If Sienna (13 seed) is able to win, you would get the 10 points for correctly identifying the winner. The bonus points for correctly choosing a lower seed would be 5pts (half the value for round 1) X 5 (difference of Sienna’s seed from the expected ‘seed value’ of seeds found in the first round: 13-8=5). Sienna 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.

Picking a correct 10 beating a 7: 5 pts X 2 (10-8) would net you 10 bonus points (plus the 10 you get from correctly picking the winner outright for a total of 20 for that game.

(Note: 8 vs 9 games are excluded from ‘upset’ status. These are always pick em games anyway)

Now the Second Round:

Picking any teams seeded 1-4 net no bonus points. They are supposed to be there.

I have now picked Sienna 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 Sienna’s seed [13] and the expected ‘seed value’ of teams supposed to be winning second round games [4] 13-4=9). So Sienna’s second round win nets me a bundle with 90 bonus points. I know that sounds like a lot - but there should be a reward for correctly identifiying teams that are going to out-perform their seeding.

Originally we used seed differnetial to determine bonus points. But the only problem is what happens when you face an unexpected upset: Say you have #10 seed  picked to go to the Sweet Sixteen and beat the #2, but in real life the #2 is shockingly stunned by #15 (we’re looking at you Iowa St). If you base bonus points only on seed differential then your correctly picking #10 to advance 2 rounds nets you no bonus points since they were playing a lower ranked team in round 2. Our current system would reward you for your gutsy call, since there is no way to know the outcome of later round games.

Third round:

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 - Sienna 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 Sienna into the Elite 8 be worth the same as boringly picking Kansas to get to the Semi Finals. Which is more likely?? Exactly.

With our scoring, for example, someone who correctly picked George Mason to get the the Final Four a couple of 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 Sienna 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 George Mason 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.

We will be updating the leaders from our ESPN challenge with this scoring system after each round here at Blue vs Blue. Good luck to all. Even Tar Heel fans have a chance to win…