FIRE UP THE GRYLLS: How to win your March Madness pool (or at least upset the people who take it seriously)
Colin Grylls is a senior journalism major who writes "Fire up the Grylls" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that magical time of year again, when everyone has to look up what channel Tru TV is in order to watch two teams they only care about because of the March Madness bracket they filled out.
But every year it seems like the office pool is won by someone who knows nothing about basketball and uses some sort of ridiculous theory about picking teams.
So here are a few bracket strategies that are sure to render all of your hard work meaningless when your sleeper champion gets knocked out in the second round:
Pick what you want to happen
This is one of the least frustrating methods because you’ll never have to root against your favorite team, or for a team you despise.
For me, this is easy to pick — UCLA. The Bruins play a really entertaining style of basketball, and they could potentially knock out Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke if they made a deep run.
But in order to play Duke, the Blue Devils would have to make the National Championship game and I don’t want Duke to win. At all.
In 2015, when the Blue Devils won the National Championship, I finished second in my office pool behind the person who picked straight chalk — I had the lead after correctly picking some early-round upsets like Georgia State over Baylor and UAB over Iowa State. Had Duke lost, I would’ve won the office pool.
I could root for Duke to be knocked out in the first or second round — but I’m pettier than that. I want them to get close, to taste it. I want them to dream about lifting up the championship trophy the night before the game.
Then I want UCLA to crush them on National TV.
Pick based on the best mascots
Perhaps one of the most famous “dumb” strategies, this is my mom’s favorite. In fact, I actually called her to break some ties between some teams.
For example, this method matched up the Providence Friars with the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Sweet 16.
Both the Friars and Gamecocks made it this far based on the uniqueness of their names, but I couldn’t decide where to go from here. I mean, do I make a bad pun about the Gamecocks getting fried or do I punish them for a, frankly, boring mascot that feels like a rip-off of the San Diego Padres? (Yes, I’m fully aware that Providence predates the Padres, but still.)
My mom broke the tie by picking the Gamecocks. Why?
“You should know why,” she said. “You’re a boy.”
That reasoning from my mom actually pushed the Gamecocks to the Final Four.
But, according to her, South Carolina will be knocked out by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish “because I like going to pubs.”
The sad thing is, this bracket will probably beat mine anyway.
Pick based on pure chance
We’ve all said this out of frustration when our eventual National Champion is knocked out in the Elite Eight, like Oklahoma was in 2015, when Duke won.
“I’d be better off just picking random teams.”
So I did this year. I filled out a bracket based entirely on coin flips, and not only do I have the winner of Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans upsetting No. 1 Villanova in the first round, but the coin landed heads three more times to put the 16-seed in the Elite Eight.
That’s not even the biggest upset my 2016 Harpers Ferry quarter picked. The best seed in the Final Four was 8-seed Miami, but the quarter says the Hurricanes drop the final to 15-seed North Dakota.
You heard it here first.