Contest Rules & Scoring

A wise man once said, "You no make-a the game.  You no make-a the rules."  You are welcome to make suggestions on how I can improve next year's contest.

Obligatory Disclaimer

This contest is just for fun.  There is no entry fee.  One day I will be independently wealthy and offer a prize to the winner.  That day is not today, so there are no prizes either.  So why be in my contest?  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I think people will tell you that my contest is more fun than most.  The scoring system is unique.  The only cost to you is that you have to endure my email commentary.  It’s my contest, and since I never win, I reserve the right to take pot shots at whomever I want.  It’s my only compensation for the time and effort I put into running the contest.


Here is how my contest is scored.  Note that my examples are from a previous year’s tournament.

  • 1st round games are worth 1 point each (32 points possible)
  • 2nd round games are worth 2 points each (32 points possible)
  • 3rd round games are worth 4 points each (32 points possible)
  • 4th round games are worth 8 points each (32 points possible)
  • 5th round games are worth 16 points each (32 points possible)

Championship game is worth 32 points!



In rounds 1 through 4 (up until the Final Four), if a lower seeded team beats a higher seeded team (e.g., the 12 seed beats the 5 seed), and if you picked the winner of that game correctly, you will receive the difference between the seeds as bonus points in addition to whatever point value is assigned to that game.  This means that "bigger" upsets are worth more points if you pick them.  Let's look at an example.

Example #1

In the West, 10 seed Gonzaga plays 7 seed Louisville.  Let's say Gonzaga wins, and you picked Gonzaga.  This is a first round game, so you get 1 point for the win.  Plus, you get 10 - 7 = 3 bonus points for the upset, for a total of 4 points.  Is that clear?

Example #2

What if it's a second round game, and you only have one of the teams right, but you still pick the right winner?  Let's say in the West you have 12 seed Indiana State playing 1 seed Arizona in the second round.  Indiana State made it, but Arizona didn't.  Instead Indiana State is playing 8 seed Wisconsin.  Indiana State beats Wisconsin.  You had Indiana State beating Arizona.  You would receive 2 points for the game plus 12 - 8 = 4 bonus points for the upset, for a total of 6 points.  (You do not get 12 - 1 = 11 bonus points, because you were wrong about Arizona.)

Got all that?  Good.

Scategories Bonus 

For years this has been my favorite and most unique bonus.  The spirit of the Scategories bonus is to reward contestants who make the impossible pick.  In the beginning of our humble contest, the Scategories bonus was awarded to any contestant who picked a winner that no one else in the contest picked for a particular game.  A contestant who managed such a feat was awarded triple the point value of that game.  This worked well when the contest was small, but as the contest has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to make a unique pick with so many contestants.

Therefore, I have slightly altered the Scategories bonus in the hopes of actually awarding one or two.  Instead of having to make a truly unique pick to win this bonus, the bonus will be awarded based on a percentage of total entries in the contest.  The actual percentage will be my little secret, but for the sake of example, let us say that it's 4%.  In that case, if we had 100 entries in our contest, then the magic number for a Scategories bonus would be 4 correct contestants for any given game.  That means if, for any given game, 4 or fewer contestants pick the game correctly, all of those contestants would receive the Scategories bonus for that game.  Hopefully, this will make the contest more interesting and keep more contestants' hopes alive longer.  Again, the goal is to reward contestants who successfully pick games that not many other contestants get right.

If you win a Scategories bonus, it simply means that you receive triple the point value for that game.  This bonus is valid for all 6 rounds of the tournament.  That means if you pick a national champ that qualifies for the Scategories bonus, and that team wins the whole enchilada, it's worth 96 points!

NEW THIS YEAR! In light of the fact that it seems the last two or three years we've had a disproportionate number of national champion picks qualifying for the ultimate scategories bonus (96 points), I have adjusted the inner workings of the scategories bonus to be on a sliding scale this year. What that means is that in earlier rounds it is easier for a pick to qualify as a scategories pick (the percentage of total entries threshold is higher), but as the rounds progress, a pick must be more unique in order to qualify (the percentage of total entries threshold is lower). What I am trying to avoid is another year where two or three of the actual Final Four qualify for the 96 point bonus.

The Re-Pick Round

After round two, when the sweet 16 is determined, you will be allowed to re-pick any of the remaining games you desire!!  That's right.  Lost three of your final four in the first round?  No sweat.  Just pick new winners and you're back in the running...maybe.

There is a catch.  There is always a catch.  Any picks that you change after the first two rounds will be worth less than original picks made before the tournament starts on March 17.  There will be a one point deduction for picks that are changed in round 3, a two point deduction for picks that are changed in round 4, a four point deduction for picks that are changed in round 5, and an eight point deduction for a changed national champion.  (For the observant, yes, this means the re-pick penalty is 25%). Just to clarify what this means: Normally a third round game is worth four points if you get it right, but if you changed your pick and get it right, it's only worth three points.  If you get it wrong, either with a changed or an original pick, it's still worth zero points, obviously.  You do not have points SUBTRACTED from your existing score just because you change a pick.  The deductions mentioned above apply to games you pick correctly with changed picks.

So, what I am trying to setup here is a classic risk/reward scenario.  If you have any red teams at all in the final three rounds, it's a no-brainer.  You should change those picks after round two and give yourself a chance to score some more points.  I made it so that changed picks are worth fewer points, though, so that those who pick the right winners from the beginning are rewarded for doing so.

However, let's say a team you picked for the Final Four is still in it after round two, but that team doesn't look so hot.  Maybe their star player was injured in the round two game.  Should you make a change?  Do you leave it as is and go for the higher point value, or do you change it, figuring fewer points is better than no points if your original pick is wrong.  Yes, folks, I've decided to cast you into the tortured suffering of second guessing.  Should be fun, don't you think?

Finally, please note that only original picks are eligible for Scategories Bonuses, and that pick changes made by contestants between rounds 2 and 3 will have no effect on the Scategories Bonuses of other contestants.  You can only score a Scategories Bonus with an original pick. However, all re-picks are eligible for upset bonus points. So, if you re-pick an 11 to beat a 2 in round 3 and get it right, you get 4 + 9 - 1 = 12 points for that game.

The website will automatically allow you to alter your picks from Midnight on Monday, March 21 to 7:00 PM on Thursday, March 24, EDT.  Simply use your password to access your picks from the Contestants Picks page.


In the event your score is identical to someone else's, two tiebreakers come into play.  The first tiebreaker is win/loss percentage, i.e., the person who has won the most games.  If there is still a tie, the second tiebreaker is the total number of Upset Bonus points scored.  There are no tiebreakers beyond the second tiebreaker.

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