NCAA tourney: Kids pick the darnedest things

NCAA tourney: Kids pick the darnedest things

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The Midwest Region proved to be particularly difficult to predict. (Source: RNN) The Midwest Region proved to be particularly difficult to predict. (Source: RNN)

(RNN) – Nobody is going to win $1 billion.

One man might get season tickets to the Atlanta Falcons (as if that's a prize), but that's about it. Falcons receiver Roddy White picked Duke to the win the national championship, but the Blue Devils lost in the first round to Mercer.

Before that game, a Mercer fan did a little Twitter trolling and White promised him season tickets on the 50-yard line if Mercer won. Then, once Mercer won, White pretended it wasn't a real bet and offered him tickets to one game "since he is a Bears fan."

But the guy is a Falcons fan and was only supporting Mercer, whose nickname is the Bears. The fan seems OK with getting hosed on his season tickets, though. On the other hand, the Falcons do have a "home" game in London this season, so he probably shouldn't give up too easily.

Anyway, it was a pretty awful week for brackets all across the country. There are no perfect brackets left, and the bracket that went the deepest without a miss wasn't even entered for the $1 billion.

Even President Barack Obama, who's made some pretty good picks in recent years, has lost three Elite Eight teams. He's still doing better than me, though.

The best brackets in the $1 billion challenge have four losses and each has already lost a team from the next round. On ESPN.com, the top two brackets have each lost an Elite Eight team as well, though there are several brackets in both places that still have the potential to be perfect the rest of the way.

None of my brackets got all four Sweet 16 teams from any region correct.

The brackets can be viewed here, and an explanation of the methodology can be found here.

The Brackets:

Chalk

This – THIS – is why I hate this whole experiment: Just picking straight favorites with no upsets is a pretty decent way to fill out a bracket. It's currently in the top 83 percent of all brackets on ESPN.com.

That should not be true, but it is. One No. 1 seed, two No. 2 seeds and three No. 3 seeds have already lost and yet this bracket refuses to be bad. In fact, in the East and West regions, it's actually good. It missed Harvard upsetting Cincinnati and North Dakota State toppling Oklahoma, but missed no other first round games in those regions.

It's currently the second-best of all my brackets and has the second-best point potential in upcoming rounds. It also had the highest score in the second round of all the brackets.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 10

Biggest loss: Wichita State in the championship game.

Still alive: Five Elite Eight teams, three Final Four teams and national champion Florida.

My Actual Picks

I feel like the biggest coup I pulled off was correctly predicting all three 12 vs. 5 upsets. Harvard, Stephen F. Austin and North Dakota State all won in the first round, and I picked all of them to win.

I missed only one first-round game in the East Region, which was my best despite putting Harvard in the Sweet 16 and Villanova in the Elite Eight. Without Creighton's loss to Baylor, the West Region would be in good shape as well.

The Midwest Region, however, was an abject failure. I did OK in the top half, losing only Kentucky's upset of Wichita State, but in the bottom half, Michigan's win over Wofford is the only game I had right.

The bracket is currently fourth out of my seven and is also fourth in potential points. If Florida loses, this bracket is dead.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 8

Biggest loss: Duke in the championship game.

Still alive: Four Elite Eight teams, two Final Four teams and national champion Florida.

Uniform Color

The high hopes I had for this one are gone. There's only one bracket worse, and the potential points left for this bracket mean it could end up being the worst one by the time the tournament is over. That's all in spite of it being the most common method chosen for this type of experiment.

Things were off to a decent start as it predicted six of the eight first round games in the West Region and five of eight in two other regions, but the second round was like taking sniper fire.

North Carolina, Villanova, Creighton and North Dakota State all failed to advance the way this bracket said they would. But the most devastating upset was Stanford eliminating Kansas. Kansas was projected to march all the way to the championship, riding the strength of its blue and crimson color scheme, but that won't happen in real life.

This is one of three brackets to have lost its national champion, and is the one of two to have lost both championship game teams. It's also one of two brackets that didn't get three Sweet 16 teams from at least one region correct.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 6

Biggest loss: National champion Kansas.

Still alive: Four Elite Eight teams and two Final Four teams.

Scoring Margin

A major conundrum has popped up for this bracket. It's currently the best bracket based on a nearly flawless run through the first round, but three other brackets are in better position for points in the upcoming rounds, because this bracket has lost two Final Four teams and a national championship game participant.

It correctly predicted 29 of the 32 first round games – five more than any of the other brackets – and was among the top 99 percent of ESPN.com brackets, but it's already lost all potential for points in both the South and East regions. In fact, only Arizona and Louisville are still alive in this bracket.

No other bracket I filled out even came close to its early success, but no other bracket has so few teams still alive. This bracket is currently in the top 89 percent of brackets on ESPN.com, but its lack of future potential will likely bring that down significantly.

Stephen F. Austin and Harvard were both picked for the Final Four, so it took major hits early on. Villanova's loss to Connecticut and Ohio State falling to Dayton were also deep wounds. But despite its paltry chances moving forward, it predicted Mercer's upset of Duke and all three 12 vs. 5 upsets.

Its West Region is nearly perfect, with only Creighton's loss to Baylor (and the Blue Jays subsequently advancing to the Elite Eight) bringing it down.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 8

Biggest loss: Stephen F. Austin in the championship game.

Still alive: Two Elite Eight teams, two Final Four teams and national champion Louisville.

Coaching Experience

As it turns out, you don't need a successful coach to do well in the NCAA tournament. Both national championship teams were eliminated from this bracket by big upsets. No. 3 lost to No. 14 Mercer in the first round and No. 3 Syracuse fell to No. 11 Dayton in the second round.

This bracket tried to pick the first ever 16 vs. 1 upset with Weber State beating Arizona, but it didn't happen. However, the West is still the best region with only Arizona's two wins and Oregon's win over BYU being missed by this bracket.

The three other regions, however, are a sea of red. This is one of two brackets, along with Uniform Color, to have lost both national championship game teams. This was the second worst bracket in the first round and has the second worst potential points remaining.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 7

Biggest loss: National champion Syracuse.

Still alive: Five Elite Eight teams and two Final Four teams.

Highest RPI

My gut feeling after seeing all these brackets filled out was that this bracket would be the best. It's middling around right now in third place, but has the best potential points remaining off all the brackets. It's the only one of my brackets to have both national championship game teams still alive.

In order to be the best bracket overall, it needs Arizona to make the national championship game and Michigan to lose to Tennessee.

The South is by far the worst region in this bracket with only four first round games and only one Sweet 16 team correct. Its best region is the West, where it missed only North Dakota State's upset of Oklahoma and Creighton's loss to Baylor.

Had Villanova beaten Connecticut, this bracket would be in an even better position to be the best one than it is and would have three Final Four teams still alive.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 9

Biggest loss: Villanova and Wichita State in the Final Four.

Still alive: Four Elite Eight teams, two Final Four teams and both national championship game teams.

Childsourcing

I really, really wanted this bracket picked by a 5-year-old to do well, but it's a disaster. Things started going south immediately. National champion American University was eliminated in the second game played.

This is the only bracket to have missed a region's Sweet 16 teams entirely and the only one not to have a single region with two Sweet 16 teams right.

The West is by far the worst region, with only San Diego State's two wins correct. The Aztecs are picked to advance to the Elite Eight, so this region could end up with more points than other regions, despite only one team earning them.

No region has more than one team still alive, and the Midwest has none. Three teams were picked correctly in the first round in the Midwest, which tied it with the South as the best region, but only Texas had a chance to help the bracket and it lost to Michigan.

This bracket is in the bottom 0.6 percent of brackets on ESPN.com. There is some good news, however. Due to Florida and Virginia being picked to make the Final Four, this bracket could end up being better overall than both Coaching Experience and Uniform Color when all is said and done.

I also have a coworker whose 10-year-old son picked the South Region, and he put Florida making the Final Four. His best pick was taking Stanford over Kansas. I might have to let him try the whole thing next year.

No. of correct teams in Sweet 16: 3

Biggest loss: National champion American University.

Still alive: Three Elite Eight teams, two Final Four teams and Florida in the national championship game.

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