BRACKET STRATEGY #12: For Keeps

Risk: Medium

Results: 2007 – 93rd percentile in the ESPN Tourney Challenge; 2008 – 42nd percentile; 2009 – 50th percentile; 2010 – 41st percentile; 2011 – 18th percentile. OVERALL AVERAGE – 48.8 percentile.

Strategy: After a year of swimming in stats, four months of watching as many games as I can, and three days of gabbing non-stop about historical tendencies in the brackets, I do my best to merge numbers, observation, gut instinct, wishful thinking—and worrisome injury news—to build a bracket that I can call my own.

Outlook: My Keeper bracket has vacillated between a contrarian approach and stats-saturated overthinking. The results have not been good. Put it this way: in the five years that I’ve done a “Gut” and “Keeper” bracket together, my gut has beaten my considered thinking 60.2 to 48.8. Neither average should give you confidence that these non-stats approaches will win your pool. This year, I’ve decided to aim for perfection instead of just winning a regular old tourney pool (in fact, I’ll probably wimp out and play a different bracket in my personal pool).