What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

The Deep Six: Myths About Filling Out A College Basketball Bracket


Now that the NCAA Basketball Tournament is almost upon us, and we will all soon be undertaking the annual tradition of bracket-filling-out is at hand, it’s time for me as the host of the Annual Dubsism Bracket Challenge
(click here for the 2021 edition) to dispel several myths people have about filling out a bracket. 

The purpose behind this is simple. 

From our bracket challenge…and every other one you will come across…you won’t have to be one of the lame-wads who cooks up some bullshit excuse to beg out of it rather than just saying “I don’t want to do it.” People beg out of these things all the time because they think there is something complex to filling out a bracket.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All you have to do is keep these six myths in mind, and you will have EXACTLY the same chance as anybody who actually joins the pool. Plus, by actually joining a pool run by a Marine and following these pointers makes you like a “Devil Dog” in the college basketball bracket-iverse!

“Join or not join. There is no almost.” Yoda would have been a straight-up squared away Marine.

Myth #1) People Get Upset If You Don’t Join Their Pool

The reality is that people get upset if nobody joins their pool.  That means that many people join these kinds of pools because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of those who invited them. Rest assured, you never have to worry about that with a Dubsism pool. If you don’t join a Dubsism sports challenge, the only “loser” is you.

Here’s why.

The average non-workplace bracket pool on-line has about seven entrants. Think about that for a minute. If you’re a sports fan and your pool got less than that, it my be time to consider moving out of your parents basement, getting a job, and/or anything else which involves increasing your level of social interaction.

Now, if you ran a pool and nobody joined, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a friendless weirdo. But you may be faced with the hard realization that not all of your friends are sports fans, and they may only being polite when the pretend to listen to your harangue about players who can’t make free throws.

Either way, the only thing more pathetic than starting a pool nobody joins is to join one of those public pools because you are in fact a friendless weirdo. Wait, I take that back. The most pathetic thing is to be that busy-body bitch at your office who complains to HR about your office pool because “it’s technically gambling”…and it’s always that same bitch who is the one trying to get everybody to go in together on Powerball tickets.

Myth #2) People Who Win These Pools Watch A Lot Of College Basketball

That’s a complete pant-load, because outside of March, nobody watches college basketball anymore. If somebody in your pool who says they watched a lot of (insert school here) basketball this year, and they aren’t an alum of (insert school here), they’re a goddamned liar.

I’m a monstrous sports fan living in the heart of basketball-crazy B1G Ten country, and even I will admit that at this time of year college basketball is a solid third sports-viewing option behind the NHL and Spring Training Baseball. Purdue University is in my back yard and I know for a fact the number of Boilermaker games I’ve watched this year can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Even with that paltry amount of college basketball viewing, I’m a far-and-away leader amongst people I know in terms of how much college basketball I watch.  Having said that, I’ve been filling out brackets since before the Internet made it an exercise in point-and-click futility. In other words, in over three decades and hundreds of brackets, how many times have I won?

two fingers

Yeah, exactly twice. I’ve been a basketball bridesmaid more times than I care to remember, but I have only taken home the “Winner” title two times. When you stop to consider how many pools I’ve been in, that puts my success rate right down there with a Kardashian marriage. Face it, we are all a #16, and the odds are a #1.

Myth #3) People Who Win These Pools Know A Lot About College Basketball

This one has almost as much “pure bullshit” content as Myth #2. Nobody really knows anything about college basketball, and that includes the people who get paid to talk about it. What Dick Vitale actually knows about college basketball would fit comfortably in his ass, right next to his head.

You don’t have to know a damn thing about college basketball in order to have a bracket with a shot of winning.  All you have to do is look closely at your bracket.  You will notice numbers by the name of each school? Those numbers are a ranking system, which means the team with a “1″ by its name is considered better than the team with a “2″ by its name, and so on down to “16.”

Where people get confused is that there are actually four of each number on a sheet; there’s “1” through “16” in each of four brackets. So how do you know which “1” is better than the other? It’s easy. Start with the bracket in the top left corner of the page, and follow a backward “C” pattern.

blank bracket

Once you have this pattern mastered, there’s really only three rules to remember:

  1. The Final Four is almost never all the 1s.
  2. The overall winner is not a #1 as often as it is, and has never been lower than a #8.
  3. Your guess is as good as everybody else’s

Obviously, if you follow these rules, you should have more 1s and 2s moving through the brackets than 15s and 16s. But upsets happen, and the player who wins the pool usually picks at least one of them.

Myth #4) You Have To Pick Everything Right To Win

That’s not going to happen. Every year, they try to tell us some autistic kid somewhere filled out a perfect bracket. But I’ve never seen it. Nobody’s ever seen it. It just doesn’t happen.

Just from a strict statistical perspective, the odds are beyond prohibitive. The odds of you filling out a perfect bracket are a staggering 1 in 9.2 quintillion…9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to be exact.

Now in case you can’t grasp a number that big, try these examples:

  • 9.2 quintillion = 1 billion multiplied by 9.2 billion
  • 9.2 quintillion = roughly the odds of hitting four holes-in-one in a single round of golf

The 9.2 quintillion number is borne of straight mathematics based on the number of possible ways the 63 game results on your bracket could be filled out.  Once you factor in the reasonable knowledge, like #1 teams always almost always advancing (Screw you, Virginia) in the first round, overall winners almost always being at least a #4 or better, or the stuff I mentioned in Myth #3, the number becomes more like 1 in 128 billion according to DePaul math professor Jay Bergen.

Let’s say that number is correct. If so, then every single person in the United States filled out a bracket, we would get a perfect one every 400 years.

Obviously, that mean winning a bracket pool is not an exercise in perfection. It’s not even an exercise in being right the most often. It’s really about being wrong in the right places. Losing a bunch of first-round games doesn’t matter much if you can keep your Final Four alive as long as possible.

Myth #5) You Can’t Outsmart Yourself

2018 saw the first time a #16 team beat a #1 (Screw you again, Virginia).  Everybody wants to be the player who picks the next one. Don’t be “that guy.” If you do that, you’re even dumber than the guy who bets hard to an inside straight draw.  It’s perfectly acceptable to pick a weird upset every once in a while; it can even be part of a winning strategy. Betting “longshots” is the gambling equivalent of hot sauce. A little bit adds some “zing,” but too much will make your asshole burn the next morning.

Myth #6) There’s No Such A Thing As A Guaranteed System


Honestly, if you’ve read this far you should already know this. If you skipped past all the other points thinking there was some sort of bracket Pot O’ Gold at the end of the Dubsism rainbow, not only should you not ever fill out a bracket, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote, drive, or reproduce.

There’s Alanis Morrisette-level irony in the fact that what we call “Bracketology” has precious little science in it. In fact, there is so little science and so much luck that it really is like a basketball version of The Price Is Right game “Plinko.” You can put all the spin on that chip you want, and you can drop it anywhere which tickles your fancy, but you really have no control over where that damn thing is going.

After you consider all this, getting uber-competitive over tournament brackets is like bragging about how good you are at Monopoly.  That’s a game all about rolling dice, not going broke, and victimizing those who do. That also means there’s about five times the skill involved in Monopoly as there is in picking a successful bracket. You got lucky to land on Boardwalk before anybody else bought it, you were lucky enough to get the cash to put a hotel on it, and you got lucky enough that some poor slob landed on it. You are also going to get lucky if you win your pool.

So calm the fuck down already, and don’t be afraid to join the best pool on the web, especially one that encourages taking the “long shot.” Fill out a bracket, enjoy the hot sauce, and take the ride.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

One comment on “The Deep Six: Myths About Filling Out A College Basketball Bracket

  1. Pingback: Boyd Bergquist’s Countdown To March Madness: IT’S HERE!!! | Dubsism

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This entry was posted on March 10, 2021 by in Basketball, Humor, Sports and tagged , , , , .

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