Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bracket Challenge: Round 1 Picks

Update: View my bracket here. | View contest results here.

Over the next few weeks, Kevin Alton and I will be going one-on-one in an as-yet-unnamed bracket challenge. I'm getting a late start, which means that Kevin has already done the hard work of explaining the rules. Here you go:

The point system for my contest with my friend Josh goes as follows: Round one is a free round because it’s so nearly imaginary. It reminds me of when they introduced the division series to major league baseball; we all felt like it was an exhibition round. We resolved today that the four games of the first round have no point value for correct guesses and any incorrect guesses can be re-picked in the second round without penalty. The first round means that much to us. Round two is worth 10 points per correct pick; round 3 is worth 20, the regional semi-finals (I’m obviously reading off the bracket headings at this point) garner 30 points for a correct pick, and so on (adding 10 points per round) through the final which is worth 60 points for a correct guess.


We negotiated re-pick rules as well; inevitably at least my bracket will have some major holes in it. Re-picks will be designated on our brackets with an ® and are only worth half of that round’s original points. While it might sound unfair for one of us to blow out a side and still be allowed to pick a winner in the championship, the rewards for picking that same championship winner from the beginning more than offset any imbalance. For example, if I correctly pick UT San Antonio to roll large and win the whole thing and Josh waits until the championship to wise up and pick them, he’ll receive only 30 points for that final guess while I, who picked them from the beginning, will not only receive 60 points for picking UT San Antonio over Wofford in the final but also an additional 150 points for the cumulative round picks that correctly got them to the final. Clear enough?

We are going on the honor system and we’re open to negotiation along the way if we haven’t thought it all the way through.

So here are my picks for the point-less (literally) first round:

ROUND 1: March 15-16

16 UT-San Antonio over 16 Alabama State
UTSA is one of three schools in this year's bracket to have lost to my alma mater, the University of Evansville. So I'm pulling for the Roadrunners. It would be nice to be able to say that my Aces beat teams that actually won game in the NCAA Tournament. While UTSA finished seventh in the lowly Southland Conference, they made an impressive showing in the conference tournament, holding off regular-season champ McNeese State (apparently pronounced "MAC-neese state"). I like the Roadrunners to keep it going for one more game and to fell the hapless coyote that is Alabama State.

12 UAB over 12 Clemson
I'm not nearly as upset about the Blazers' inclusion as the talking heads at ESPN were. Conference USA was a strong league this year, and UAB won it outright. And, as much as I like Clemson defensively, I don't trust the Tigers in March. I'm picking UAB.

11 USC over 11 VCU
VCU probably doesn't deserve to be in this tournament, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them beat USC. USC has been hard to figure out all season. No team's résumé is filled with such a strange assortment of great wins (Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, Arizona) and terrible losses (Rider, Bradley, TCU, and Oregon State). But the Trojans have played well down the stretch, and I like them to move on.

16 Ark-Little Rock over 16 NC-Asheville
I hate picking teams based on conference affiliation, but I'm going with Little Rock because I like the Sun Belt better than the Big South. I also have fond memories of the UALR teams that overachieved in the late 1980s.

So there you go.

Here are Kevin's picks.


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