Dig Baton Rouge

An (Im)perfect Recipe

By Andrew Alexander

March Madness is well under way, and after four days of riveting college basketball this past weekend, 16 teams survived and advanced on to the “Sweet Sixteen” quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament.

Every single March, millions of Americans fill out brackets in hopes of winning their office pool and bragging rights for the year. To some, the selection process is a science, to others an art form, but usually, it just comes down to plain luck.

This year the stakes were raised even higher when American business magnate Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans teamed up to offer a billion dollars to anyone who could successfully pick the winners of all 63 games in the NCAA college basketball tournament.

Naturally, the millions of amateur “bracketologists” filled out brackets with grandiose visions of wealth. However, the dream of billionaire status was dashed for many after the first game of the tournament when Dayton upset Ohio State, immediately knocking out 84 percent of the participants in Buffett’s bracket challenge. By Friday night, after Memphis beat George Washington no perfect brackets remained.

With Buffett’s billion dollars no longer up for grabs, local college basketball prognosticators now turn their eyes back to their lowly office bracket pools, and reveal their recipes to picking an almost perfect bracket.

WAFB sports reporter Chris Hagan employs a cerebral approach to make sure he carefully calculates the perfect bracket.

“My recipe is go with your brain for smart picks, and don’t pick upsets for the sake of being different,” Hagan explained. “Sometimes you also have to go against your gut. It’s hard to pick the No. 12 seed in those No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed games, but the numbers the last few years really favor the 12 seed, so step out of your comfort zone.”

When filling out a bracket, picking the right upsets can spell the difference between winning your pool and shredding your bracket after the first weekend.

“The recipe for picking a perfect bracket is usually relying on the assumption that there is going to be one upset in each region of the bracket,” LSU senior Chase Gore said. “I usually like to pick a 12-5, 11-6, or a 10-7 upset if I feel comfortable doing it.”

LSU law student Francis Boustany believes, “making at least a third of your picks underdogs and putting at least one unexpected team in the Final Four” is the recipe for success.

After picking every No. 1 and No. 2 seed team “without even looking,” Tiger Sports Digest publisher Ben Love always includes a few obligatory upset picks.

“I try to sprinkle in some No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 seed teams winning a round or two, especially when they’re automatic-qualifier teams,” Love said. “Then I pick a really good national championship team, but not the unanimous top team. It will pay to be slightly different.”

“I just start by picking who I think are no-brainers to win,” Gralapp explained. “If I’m still stuck on a game I just pick the team with the better hair, which always eliminates Wisconsin.

Baton Rouge native and current Boeing engineer Nicole Resweber takes a more scientific approach, using statistics when filling out her bracket.

“There’s always going to be a No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed in the first round, the Final Four will not be all No. 1 seeds, and No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed games are a crapshoot,” Resweber said. “But always pick your team to win at least the first game,” she added with a grin.

Other bracket challenge hopefuls like public relations professional Sarah Laborde throw caution to the wind and blindly pick teams in hopes of garnering a successful bracket.

“My bracket has no rhyme or reason,” Laborde said. “I’m relying on a lot of luck here and the occasional upset.”

The most unique strategy has be college basketball enthusiast Weslee Gralapp’s “well-coiffed theory.”

“I just start by picking who I think are no-brainers to win,” Gralapp explained. “If I’m still stuck on a game I just pick the team with the better hair, which always eliminates Wisconsin.”

“The longest part of the process is looking up team pictures and deciding who has the better hair.”

For now, relish your bracket victories, learn from your defeats and get ready for another exciting weekend of college hoops. Only time will tell which one of these strategies, whether it is science or Suave For Men, truly pays off.

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