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PostHeaderIcon 2017 March Madness Survival Pool

In 2017 BoxScore Baseball ran its first ever Survival Pool for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  With so many upsets, I began to ponder the following question:  was it even possible to survive all the way to the end this year without choosing at least one upset?

Day One was simple since nearly all of the mid-tier favorites won.  190 out of the 197 members of the pool advanced.  Basically any of the most popular picks in Day One like West Virginia, Butler, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Arizona were all fine picks since all of them won and none of them advanced to the Final Four except Gonzaga who was only chosen by 11 entries.

Day Two was a little bit more problematic.  That’s because Oregon was the second most popular pick and they ended up in the Final Four.  You also would have needed to thread of very thin needle the rest of the way if you used Baylor, the second most common pick of Day Two.  And finally, you needed to avoid another popular choice, SMU as they ended up getting upset by USC.  But many other popular picks such as UCLA, Wichita State. Louisville, Cincinnati, Rhode Island, Michigan and others were all fine favorites to choose.  Heck, as it turned out, you even could have chosen Duke or Villanova who both went out the very next round.

Day 3 the most popular pick of Florida State went down in flames, but plenty of other decent favorites like Butler, Arizona, and Purdue all turned out to be viable options.

Day 4 the most popular pick of Baylor was a good favorite to pick.  Again Oregon needed to be saved for later.  UCLA was another favorite that would have worked.  Those were the only common pick favorites you could have chosen and still made it to the end.

Day 5 the favorite to take was Kansas over Purdue if you wanted to survive all the way to the end without choosing an underdog.  Kentucky was a borderline favorite you could have chosen, as their game against UCLA was pretty much considered a toss-up game.

Day 6 the favorite you would have needed to choose was Florida.  They were slight favorites over Wisconsin and beat them in overtime at the buzzer.

Day 7 & 8 the only way to make it to day 9 without choosing an upset was to choose Gonzaga over Xavier and North Carolina over Kentucky.  Oregon and South Carolina were both underdogs.

Yes, you narrowly could have gotten to Day 9 without ever choosing an upset and you still would have had an additional team to use for Day 10, however, your streak of picking favorites would need to come to an end.  You would be forced to choose an underdog in Day 9, either Oregon or South Carolina.  And then both of them would need to win for you to have a team you could play in Day 10.  So as I analyze it, there would be no conceivable way to have made it all the way do Day 10 without picking at least one upset.

As for the two actual entrants who lasted until the Final Four, they both have just one team left.  Neither of them can advance beyond Day 9.  One of them has North Carolina left and one of them has Gonzaga left.  To reach this point, Double Plz – 2 road favorites all the way to Day 8 when they won with South Carolina over Florida.  Randy & Terrel also chose the South Carolina upset in Day 8, but more than that they also chose the enormous upset of Xavier over Arizona on Day 5.

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