IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL
Are you entering this pool because your friend, family member or co-worker is hounding you and you want to get them off your back? If so, feel free to ignore today’s newsletter. Seriously. Just check back on Monday, when we send out our in-depth guide, which will help you submit an informed sheet with minimal effort.
But if you’re entering because you want premium entertainment over the next few weeks and to feel confident you’ll be in the running at least through the Final Four, keep reading.
First, familiarize yourself with Massey Ratings, College Basketball’s Power Index, the NCAA’s Stats Page and Pinnacle’s College Basketball Lines.
You’re also going to want to invest in subscriptions to KenPom.com and Jordan Sperber’s HoopVision Newsletter. You won’t be disappointed.
UNDERSTAND YOUR POOL’S MAKEUP
This may be the most underrated aspect of pool strategy and one that will help you diversify your portfolio if you’re planning to enter different pools with different people and different rules, which you should by the way.
How many people are in your contest? Who are they? Who are they picking?
· If you’re in a small 10-person pool, going with The Chalk is probably your best bet.
· If you’re in a massive 1,000-person pool, you need to hit some upsets to differentiate your sheet from the masses.
Do half the email addresses in your pool end with “@osu.edu”? Are you located in Columbus, Ohio?
· You can probably separate yourself from half the pool just by eliminating the Buckeyes before the Final Four. Do that.
Is your pool made up of people who will be watching their first college hoops games since Virginia beat Texas Tech two years ago? People who are going to be shocked when they can’t find Duke & Kentucky on the sheet?
· Lean back toward The Chalk.
· Many of your competitors are going to struggle bringing themselves to pencil in Baylor, Houston and Alabama as many times as they should.
ESPN’s Bracket Challenge website will offer a good look at who the general public is picking HERE once that information becomes available.
UNDERSTAND YOUR POOL’S SCORING SYSTEM
The most important aspect to understanding your pool is understanding your scoring system, specifically two crucial items.
· Bonus Points For Picking Upsets
· Points Per Round
If you’re not getting any bonus points for picking an upset – if picking the #1 seed in the first round yields the same number of points as your trendy #13 upset pick – you need to play it very conservative and think two, three and four times before getting too cute in the early rounds.
But if you are being awarded bonus points for the upset – if that #13 pick is worth almost 13 times as much as that #1 pick – you need to lean in and search for value.
Just be careful and understand how the scoring system plays out in later rounds. You don’t want to eliminate too many potential champions before we get to Final Four Weekend because you’re looking for those early-round bonuses.
If we miss on some early upsets, we should be able make up for that quickly by nailing the final rounds.
Check back Monday morning, when we release our in-depth guide, going through each round and explaining the risk/reward of every pick you could make.