If you have a standard scoring pool (round 1=1point, round 2=2ponts, round 3=4 points, round 4=8 points, round 5=16 points and round 6=32 points) don't worry about first round upsets. It is most important to select the teams that will advance to the final 4 and beyond. Remember that selecting the final winner is worth exactly the same as selecting all first round match ups.
If you are in a small pool of less than 20 entrees, you can have great success mostly picking favorites using top seeds to advance to the finals. The bigger the pool of players, however, the more risk you will have to take by selecting underdogs to differentiate you from the crowd and win the pool.
If you select a 16 seed over a 1 seed you will definitely differentiate yourself from others in the pool but you will definitely will lose your pool. What you want to do is select a team in the later rounds that has a good chance of winning but others in your pool will overlook. This is where BracketWise comes in. We have developed a system to help you identify undervalued teams -called WisePicks (R). While most people in your pool will write off these less popular teams, data shows that they have a better chance of winning than perceived. Make these WisePicks and you will dramatically improve your chances of winning your pool.
Most people who fill out brackets bet with their "hearts" and "history". Meaning that they either bet their favorite teams (hearts) or programs that have previously had success in the tournament (history). With so many casual fans quickly filling out brackets, you find many teams are overvalued to win it all. It's not uncommon for 50% of your pool to have nearly identical uninformed picks. Vegas odds, however, tend to be more efficient at determining the likelihood of who will win a game. Vegas odds are a good proxy for finding undervalued teams.
So if you only knew which teams most people overvalued and which teams Vegas says are undervalued, it would be easy to pick a winning bracket. Enter BracketWise. We have mined the data from Vegas and compared them with who the 100,000s of people who have already filled out their 2013 brackets think will win. You can plug in the name of teams that you think will advance and see if they are a SmartPick (popular teams with a good chance of winning), Crazypick (unpopular teams with a poor chance of winning) or a WisePick(R) (unpopular teams with a good chance of winning). Your goal is mainly to pick SmartPicks and avoid CrazyPicks. The bigger your pool the more WisePicks you will want to select.
College basketball pools appeal to both sports fans and math geeks.
Mark Soper is at the intersection of those two worlds. Soper conceived, coded and launched BracketWise two days before the 2013 College Basketball tournament in an attempt to improve bracket selection. He consulted Chris Mihm whose only qualification seems to be that he has been in the same basketball pool for over 25 years and was manually doing much of what Soper has automated here at BracketWise.
The BrackWise is in Beta form. We need as much feedback this year so we can launch it for 2014. Please use the BracketWise tool and send us feedback, questions, suggestions, results and your winnings (just kidding BracketWise does not condone gambling). Bookmark this site for the 2014 tourney and tell all your friends ( who are not in your pool) to check it out.