The Popcorn Stand: This pool meant to be upsetting
The Popcorn Stand is periodically featured (actually whenever Recorder Sports Editor Charles Whisnand wants to write it) on the Recorder web site and the Porterville Recorder Facebook page. It features Whisnand’s musings (actually whatever he wants to write about) on the world of sports. It’s named in honor of one of Whisnand’s favorite sportswriters, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Red Smith, who once dubbed one of his columns The Popcorn Stand.
March Madness is coming and I’ve been using a convoluted scoring system for picking your NCAA Tournament bracket, which trust me, makes the event more fun.
The first year I ever organized a March Madness pool at the Recorder, I remember our photographer at the time, Lonnie Eskridge, picking No. 15 seed Santa Clara to upset No. 2 seed Arizona. He had no idea what he was doing as he basically just made random selections.
Lonnie received just one point in my pool for correctly picking Santa Clara. I thought it just didn’t seem right Lonnie received just one point for picking such a colossal upset, even if it was by accident. So I thought, why not reward people for picking upsets?
Ever since then, I’ve come up with a system in which those playing in the Recorder March Madness pool are rewarded for picking upsets. This system adds strategy to our pool as those playing have to decide if they want to gamble, picking as many upsets as possible to pile up the points, or to play it safe and pick as many favorites as possible, hoping all safe picks will lead to the most points in the long run. Most who play in the pool go with a combination, trying to nail the Cinderella picks to gain valuable points while at the same time trying to keep as many teams as possible alive in the tournament.
First off, I don’t even worry about the play-in games. My pool doesn’t begin until the tournament has 64 teams. This provides a little advantage to those in our pool as they can pick teams who have won in the play-in games (such as Virginia Commonwealth, who advanced all the way to the Final Four after having to begin in a play-in game in 2011).
While the 64 teams left in the tournament after the play-in games officially begin play in the second round, I’ll still refer to those contests as the first round. Basically, here’s how the scoring of my pool works:
The scoring is standard for a win in each round: One point for a first round win; two points for the second round; three points for the sweet 16; four points for the elite eight; five points for the Final Four; and six points if you pick the national champion.
But I also reward points for upsets based on the difference in the seeded teams. As an example, Lonnie would have received 14 points for picking Santa Clara to beat Arizona, 13 points for the difference in seeds and one point for the win. So in the sweet 16 if you pick correctly a No. 6 seed to beat a No. 3 seed, you receive six points — three points for the upset and three points for the win. Obviously, the one with the most total points at the conclusion of the tournament is the winner.
Feel free to send me your bracket pools to firstname.lastname@example.org before play begins on Thursday and keep track of your picks using this scoring system. I’ll compare your results to the results of our Recorder pool. And if you would have won our pool, your reward will be a congratulatory e-mail from myself stating you would have won our pool.
Things we can do without in sports:
He’s a polarizing figure, but sorry, we can do without Ray Lewis as an ESPN analyst. (There, my cheap shot at ESPN).
These stupid looking uniforms some schools are going to wear in the NCAA Tournament. Is this the NCAA Tournament or M.C. Hammer rapping “You Can’t Touch This?” When you see these uniforms, you’ll know why I referred to M.C. Hammer.