HOW TO LOSE A BILLION DOLLARS IN ONE DAY

“Should I offer up my hand, And save a wish for once, For all of us.”
-Shinedown, “Lost in the Crowd”

The time has come for college basketball enthusiasts and gamblers to shine; it’s time for people to discover schools they never knew existed; it’s time for people that never wager hard-earned money and contribute to one of the millions of office or family pools; it’s time for people slack off at work on Thursdays and Fridays; it’s time for people to switch their priorities, drink at lunch, and have dinner delivered at night; it’s time for no distractions and to stress over uncontrollable events concerning people you have no affiliation with; and it’s time to rejoice once again in the name of sport. March Madness has officially begun.

To understand March Madness, a person must understand the staple of the tournament: the bracket; the life and death of teams, fans, and gamblers. There are 68 teams invited to compete in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship; some shouldn’t have been there (BYU), others should have (SMU), and then the filler teams that are rewarded a ticket to the big dance for winning their respective conferences (take your pick from someone that lost badly over the weekend).

Filling out a bracket is a craft. People print multiple copies and draft different scenarios. They submit several entries online to various contests, enter their office pools, bet with their friends, and attempt to obtain ultimate glory and bragging rights within the family. They spent hours deciding whether or not Stephen F. Austin would upset Virginia Commonwealth, became aware of strange schools like Wofford (go Terriers), and begin to ponder why so many universities are called the vague “Wildcats” when “Bobcats” or “Cougars” would be more fitting (“Jaguarundis” in Florida). Maybe the popular name was chosen because there are so many universities and colleges in America that they just gave up on picking a different mascot and focused on, I don’t know, teaching students. You can’t bet on teachers and watch them compete all day in the NCAA Teacher Championships, so let’s move on. Then again, I’m sure there are plenty of Wildcats roaming the streets of the greater Philadelphia area.

wildcat flickr com
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

It’s hard not to bet with your heart (go Lobos), but your brain should be doing most of the work (stupid Lobos). It’s kind of like the old cliché about how a man thinks with his penis and not his head (the top one). There needs to a balance between what a person wants to happen and what they truly think will happen. It can even be something obsessive-compulsive like not having all blue teams in the final four because that would be annoying (Sorry Creighton, Duke, Florida, and Villanova; three of you lost because of that); a person needs to be realistic from time to time. The possibility of teams that are disliked winning a championship is very probable because no one likes a show-off program that wins all the time.

However, there will be upsets, teams aren’t cursed if they don’t win yet again, and jinxing an opponent is nearly superstition, but still worth a shot. If teams were cursed and superstitions worked, then no one would ever win the championship which is very improbable. On the other hand, maybe there are more powerful curses and jinxes, but as of right now we have statistical history to fall back on.

Lowest seed to reach the Final Four: 11 (Woodburn, 2014).
Lowest seed to win the Championship: 8 (Woodburn, 2014)
Number 1 seed to win the Championship: 18 (Whenham, 2014)
Times a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed: 0 (Woodburn, 2014)
Times a 15 seed has defeated a 2 seed: 7 (Woodburn, 2014)
Times a 14 seed has defeated a 3 seed: 17 (Woodburn, 2014)
Times a 13 seed has defeated a 4 seed: 25 (Woodburn, 2014)
Times a 12 seed has defeated a 5 seed: 41 (Woodburn, 2014)
Times an 11 seed has defeated a 6 seed: 39 (Woodburn, 2014)
Number 7 or 10 seed reaching the Final Four: 0 (Whenham, 2014)
Overall win-loss difference of an 8 seed vs. 9 seed since 1985: 4 (Whenham, 2014)

There’s no need to worry or become distraught because there is (was) a billion dollars to win this year fresh out of Warren Buffet’s pocket. The chance alone should serve as motivation, but considering the improbability it’s more likely that servers will shut down from the amount of entries submitted. For example: it took over two hours for the email confirmation to show up in virtual inboxes.

The real odds are in Quicken Loans’ favor. This was obviously a ploy for the company to gain all your information. If anyone went through the process they are already aware that your mortgage rate has nothing to do with basketball, but it was required information to gain access to the pool (as was the sneaky way you needed a code via text). Some companies pay employees a nice salary to be that discreet about their true intentions. They must have obtained their degree from one of those schools that concentrate on academics instead of basketball.

Sarcasm aside, those smart kids also figured this out.

Odds of guessing (sorry, scientifically evaluating) a perfect bracket: 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (Essert, 2014)
Number of recorded perfect brackets in history: 0

Essentially the best bet was for all the referees to join forces, submit one bracket, fix the games, and split the billion dollars. Here’s what happened instead.

Lowest seed to reach the Final Four: Dayton could tie it.
Lowest seed to win the Championship: Dayton or Stanford can change that.
Number 1 seed to win the Championship: Three of them still can.
Times a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed: Nope.
Times a 15 seed has defeated a 2 seed: Not this year.
Times a 14 seed has defeated a 3 seed: Add Mercer to the list.
Times a 13 seed has defeated a 4 seed: Not this year.
Times a 12 seed has defeated a 5 seed: Stephen F. Austin, North Dakota St., and Harvard pulled it off.
Times an 11 seed has defeated a 6 seed: Dayton and Tennessee joined the list.
Number 7 or 10 seed reaching the Final Four: Stanford and Connecticut still have a shot.
Overall win-loss difference of an 8 seed vs. 9 seed since 1985: 2-2 This year.
Number of perfect brackets left after just one weekend: 0
Percentage of people that lost a billion on the first game because of the pesky Dayton Flyers: 83%

buckeyes washington post com
Photo courtesy of Washington Post

My earlier information would have probably been helpful if explained before the tournament started, but what do I know, I lost a billion dollars on the first game.

Essert, M. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.policymic.com/articles/85401/mathematicians-have-determined-your-odds-of-picking-the-perfect-ncaa-bracket on March 21, 2014

Whenham, T. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.docsports.com/current/ncaa-tournament-seed-history.html on March 21, 2014

Woodburn, P. (2014). Retrived from http://www.slipperstillfits.com/2014/3/17/5516086/ncaa-tournament-2014-bracket-predictions-upsets on March 21, 2014

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