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My dad passed away almost 9 years ago. He loved everything sports. He loved competition. You could say I picked up a few things from him! I can definitely wrestle with my attention to sports at times. It can very easily become an idol and a distraction from more important things for me. But I think March Madness is about more than the fun of sports for me but a carrying on of a tradition, of the memories I have with my dad and March Madness. I remember watching Duke upset undefeated UNLV in 1991 after getting creamed by them in 1990. We watched Laettner hit that last second shot against Kentucky in 1992. We watched the Fab 5, rooted for the West teams, and just lived and breathed NCAA basketball for 3 weekends every year. I enjoyed March Madness not so much because of the games but the fun connection with my dad. I enjoy it now in some ways because my fond memories of him still. As I said though, my dad was a competitor and what would March Madness be without a family pool?

My Family’s NCAA Pool

I can’t remember when we started our family pool or how my dad came up with the system, but we still use it today between my own family, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom. It’s not the normal system. We don’t pick every single game. All we are essentially attempting to do is to pick the final 8 teams.

11mens_bracket

Your goal is to pick the Elite 8. You pick 8 teams: 2 per region, 1 per quadrant. You get 1 point for a first round win and double each round thereafter. A win in the final is worth 32 pts. You also get 1 bonus team that is a 7 seed or lower. But with these teams, the points are higher. A 7 or 8 seed first round win is worth 2 pts, a 9 or 10 seed is worth 3 pts, a 11 or 12 seed is worth 4 pts, a 13 or 14 seed is worth 8 pts, a 15 seed win is worth 16 pts (only happened 4 times), and a 16 seed win is worth 32 pts (never happened). That is a total of 9 teams – your elite 8 plus a bonus team that you think could pull some upsets.

Even My Kids Make Picks

Yes, even my kids (all 6 and under!) make their picks. How? When they were really little, I would have them roll the dice. Yes, I know, I am bit into this! For the past few years though, I have made slides with the top 6 teams for each region showing the animal mascot for each of those teams. I try to use an actual picture of an animal wherever I can. They just pick the animal they like!

2011 MARCH MADNESS EAST TOP 6 SEEDS

At least one of my kids has beat me every year since I started using the pictures and my daughter Zinnia won the whole pool by the role of the dice 2 years ago! No male (my brother, my son, or myself) in my family has won in nearly 4 years!

Is It Worth It?

It’s very easy to get sucked in and end up watching way too many hours of games. One pastor I know actually said that the last 2 minutes are usually the only that you need to see! That’s pretty true actually. I’m not a fan of filling out 10 brackets and trying to track all of them. Keep it simple. Don’t ignore your family the next 3 weekends (I am preaching this to myself more than anyone!). Think about the fact that the gospel in a sense frees us to enjoy life. Yes, we should not be wasteful with our time or escape into it. But enjoy the fellowship, enjoy the underdog winning, enjoy the young athlete coming through in a hard moment, ache with the team coming up just short, enjoy the coach finally getting a title, and remind yourself that in Christ we ourselves are in a match, a race to receive a prize that is imperishable. Also remind yourself that the best player in the league, an unstoppable force, is on your team and He is not you.

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:22-27 ESV)

Pool Resources

2011 MARCH MADNESS Mascot Slides by Region (PDF)

2011 MARCH MADNESS Scoring Blank Spreadsheet (My Family Rules) (Excell)

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