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America starts filling out March Madness brackets
Question of the Day
“We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!” senior Kyle O’Quinn exclaimed last year after he led 15th-seeded Norfolk to an 86-84 upset over Missouri.
Tom DeRosa, a former algebra teacher who now runs a website that provides teachers with everyday lessons for their own classes, says there is no mathematically surefire way to figure out which 15 or 16 might break through this year. But you can’t completely ignore them, either.
“You look at the numbers and, yeah, it’s a pretty good bet a 1, 2 or 3 seed is going to win the whole tournament,” says DeRosa, whose March Madness lesson is being taught across America this week. “If you’re making a bracket and you don’t have any `1’s in the Final Four or anywhere near the Final Four, you’re probably not going to win your pool. But things get a lot more nuanced the more you read. `’
Speaking of nuance:
_ Blue has been the school color of 24 of the 40 teams to make the Final Four during the last 10 years, and the hue worn by the last nine national champions.
_ Of those 40 Final Four team mascots, 12 have been people (Spartan, Mountaineer, etc.), seven have been canines and five have been birds (mostly the mythical Jayhawk). There have been Warriors at the Final Four and a Gator or two. But the most ferocious _ for those who like to pair the mascots off in cage matches _ has been, by far, the Blue Devil.
_ Las Vegas, which exists because of its ability to get math right, has No. 1 seed Louisville as a 9-2 favorite to win it all, followed by second-seeded Duke and Miami at 8-1. (Warning: Odds can be influenced by betting patterns, and Duke has one of the largest followings in the nation.)
Using a mix of all this information is Glen Calhoun, the head of props for the national tour of the Broadway smash “Jersey Boys.” On Monday, he was busy unloading nine trucks full of wardrobe and scenery, as the show moved from Norfolk, Va., to Houston. Not his only task of the day.
“I’ve got to get our NCAA brackets set up,” he said. “I’ll be sure to squeeze that in.”
More than 50 people are in the cast and crew, and Calhoun figured at least half of them would take part.
“What’s good about the March Madness pool is that anyone can get in there and do well,” he said. “You can study up, and then it all falls apart. I remember one year when Wake Forest got me. Or you can just pick your favorite teams, and that works sometimes.”
Magazine insists that, yes, there is mathematical advice to follow, including some he picked up by reading Nate Silver, the blogger who picked the electoral college count in last year’s presidential election nearly to the number. (By the way, no word yet on whether President Barack Obama will be channeling Silver when he fills out his bracket.)
Silver suggests that Nos. 8 and 9 seeds can sometimes be worse Sweet 16 picks than those seeded 10, 11 or 12 because the winner of an 8-9 matchup is all but destined to play a No. 1 in the next round.
“I tell people, if you’re going to pick upsets, do it in the 10, 11, 12, 13 range,” Magazine said.
It’s OK to use your gut, Magazine says. But, he insists, it’s folly to completely ignore the numbers.
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