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Volokh March Madness Finals.--

Well, the first Volokh Conspiracy March Madness contest is down to the final game and it's between me and Molechaser (out of 252 entries). At the moment, I lead Molechacer by 16 points, but with 32 points awarded for the winner of the championship game, one of us will beat the other by a wide point margin.

In short, if Kansas wins, I win; if Memphis wins, Molechaser wins. Good luck to Molechaser!

Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
Not that I'm biased or anything, but go Jim! Get ready to celebrate your victory, because there is only way that Monday is going to end up.
4.6.2008 4:18am
neurodoc:
...but with 32 points awarded for the winner of the championship game, one of us will beat the other by a wide point margin.
I didn't pay this any attention before, so don't know the details of how it was structured. But it sounds like it has more in common with the winner-take-all approach of the Repubs to picking a nominee than the Dems mixed one, with proportional outcomes and super delegates. (If someone participating in this b-ball pool had called every single game wrong in this tournament save for the ones with the eventual winner in them, would that person win over someone who called every single game right save for the outcome of the final game?)

Does it somehow validate the approach taken that there will be one and only one pool winner (JL or Molechaser) as opposed to having co-winners? Can some probablist tell us what the odds were against someone who threw darts against a list of teams to determine their choices doing as well or better than JL and Molechaser are doing? And not to suggest anything improper here, but how is it that the pool organizer has so excellent a chance at being the last left standing?

Please bear in mind that these questions are being asked by someone who did not participate in this pool, has not watched a single game to date, is indifferent to the outcome, thinks athletics have a corrupting influence on higher education in the US. (Pay the players like the semi-pros that they are, and stop the "student athlete" charade.) :)
4.6.2008 9:21am
neurodoc:
I want to modify my first question slightly. I don't expect someone would win the pool if their only correct call had been which team would prevail in the end. If that is the way the pool had been constructed, then it would defy the odds to have just one winner in the end, especially since the champion will be one of the top 4 seeds. But where would someone come out who correctly called an amazing number of the games, but failed to call the ultimate one correctly. (Forgive me for not seeking to answer my own questions about the pool. I had only meant to comparing/contrasting it with the presidential primaries.)
4.6.2008 9:28am
Steven Joyce (mail):
neurodoc:

This bracket uses the traditional rules, as described by Todd in the initial post:

"Armchair GM has set up the scoring system as a simple one: 1 point for each correct first round pick, 2 for second, 4 for third, 8 for fourth, 16 for fifth, and 32 for picking the national champion. No points for picking upsets or any other bells and whistles."

So someone who guessed only the national champion would have picked one correct game in each round for a total of 63 points, versus 160 for someone who got every game right except the final.

For the second version of your question:

Player 1 calls 3/4 of the games correctly in the first 4 rounds, as well as both of the semi-final games, but missed the final game: 128 points.

Player 2 calls 1/2 of the games correctly in the first 5 rounds, as well as getting the final right: 112 points.

Obviously, you can reverse the result pretty easily by reducing player 1's advantage in the early rounds.
4.6.2008 10:06am
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
Since Jim Lindgren has already declined the prize, the bobblehead winners will be mintstate and Circ230 if Kansas wins, and Molechaser and baclaw if Memphis wins.

neurodoc,

Depends on the number of participants.

If the size of the pool is large (bigger than the typical office pool), then you must both pick the national champion (since many other people will have as well) and pick the early round games correctly (since you'll have to do better than these other people). Furthermore, in a really large pool, you'd have to get all the Final Four teams right (as I recall last year's ESPN winner had George Mason in the Final Four).

In a typical office pool the same applies unless you happen to be the only one to pick the champion, in which case you'd have to have done really poorly in the early rounds to still lose.

In a small pool there's a good chance that no one picked the champion, so picking the early games will be important.

Can some probablist tell us what the odds were against someone who threw darts against a list of teams to determine their choices doing as well or better than JL and Molechaser are doing?

Someone picking completely randomly has an expected point total of 31.5 points. Only 1 person in this contest of 200+ people finished with fewer than 31.5 points (not including the guy who sign up but didn't pick any games).

And not to suggest anything improper here, but how is it that the pool organizer has so excellent a chance at being the last left standing?

Obviously Jim fixed the games. Duh. Or it might have been random chance, since I'm of the belief that there's no skill in picking these games (I've won more than one pool even though I don't watch college basketball at all except during tournament time).
4.6.2008 11:02am
DUNKtus Officio:
Guhhhh... so close, but still no chance for a bobblehead!
4.6.2008 1:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Hmm,

The VC sets up a pool and one of the named conspirators is in a position to win it all. Is it just me or is this very suspicious? It sounds like a conspiracy to me.
4.6.2008 3:18pm
Marshallian:
Can anyone explain to me how you close your Armchair GM account once the contest is over? Their site doesn't seem to provide any information on this. Thanks!
4.6.2008 5:58pm
Molechaser:
Wow, I feel like I should do some trash-talking. But, given that I picked Memphis, I suspect that Kansas will actually win. Good luck to you, Professor Lindgren.
4.6.2008 6:14pm