Let the betting begin

March 20, 2008 12:00 am

I know nothing about college basketball, so here's how I'm managing my $10 bet on the NCAA tournament.

Upon being propositioned to throw money into the office pool, my first reaction was, absolutely not. I don't know anything about the teams and have never watched a college game.

Then, I started to think about it. This is a great American betting tradition for anyone who works in an office. If I researched all the prospective winners and had no emotional attachment to certain teams, I could stand to win a little cash.

My alma mater is a Division III school (obviously not a contender) and the Southern Illinois University Salukis in Carbondale, Ill., where I was born, aren't in the Big Dance.

So who's a girl to bet on? I suppose I could have picked based on mascot outfits, but instead I'll go with the statistics—bracketology.

I've decided to go with the process of elimination. First off, I'm going to knock out those seeded 9-16 to whittle the teams down. Now, lets look at the top NCAA teams from a historical aspect.

First-year coaches rarely led their teams to victory, which takes out West Virginia, Drake, Indiana.

No team with more than eight losses has ever claimed a NCAA championship, which leaves Michigan State and Purdue behind.

By a simple twist of historical fate, 5 and 7 seeds don't usually win. That leaves out Notre Dame and Clemson.

Mississippi State, Oklahoma and USC all have double-digit losses this season, so they're out.

Also, after hours on the Internet, I found that teams far from their homecourt don't fair well, which could hurt UNLV, BYU and Marquette.

Winners of the tournament's East and West regions are typically 1 or 2 seeds, knocking out Xavier, Washington State, Tennessee, Duke and Kentucky.

Another interesting fact is that a NCAA men's Division I champion has never had guards under 6-foot, which doesn't bode well for Texas.

By process of elimination, that would leave the Memphis Tigers, Kansas Jayhawks, North Carolina Tar-Heels the UCLA Bruins as the final four.

However, life is never that simple and I refuse to not include an underdog.

I made that mistake with this year's Oscars and was left slack-jawed when Tilda Swinton walked away with Cate Blanchett's award.

But back to basketball. My research has left me with the feeling Pittsburgh will be the Final Four underdog. Playing the Longhorns on their own turf could be iffy. However, I'm predicting a repeat of the Spartans' slaughtering the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae, with Pittsburgh left standing.

Memphis will succumb to the Panthers as well. A one-loss team hasn't won the championship in 34 years.

Pairing the Tar Heels and Jayhawks could be a toss-up. Is North Carolina too confident or is Kansas not focused? I'm going with Kansas in the end, another underdog.

In the final battle, UCLA will most likely win based on solid stats—this is who most sports commentators are picking as well. I'd like to win some money, so I'll go with the sure thing.

This yearly tradition, by the way, is also causing businesses big time. The New York Times reported that 30 million people participate every year, costing companies $1.7 billion in work hours during the course of the tournament.

Guess I better wrap this up and clock out.