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Wilcox: How to earn your one billion (March 20)

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kudos to you for making it this far into the paper! As much as us writers don’t like to admit it, we know that The Observer is mostly read casually-at-best by people sitting alone or waiting for a friend at the dining hall.

But you did it! You made it all the way through the sports section and here you are at my article. To reward you for your support and in a shameless effort to get more people to read my article, here’s a reward for you: one billion dollars.

Yes, you read that right. One. Billion. Dollars. With a ‘B’.

So how do you claim your prize?

Well you may have heard Warren Buffet is offering the same amount to whomever fills out a perfect bracket for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Of course, no one has ever accomplished this feat, but then again, no one has ever listened to my unsolicited college basketball advice either.

So, dedicated Observer reader, today is your lucky day, as I am about to give you the tips you need to make this the easiest billion dollars you’ll ever make.


The Ultimate Upset.

March Madness is all about the upsets. Recently, we’ve seen Florida Gulf Coast knock off perennial basketball power Georgetown and reach the Sweet 16, Wichita State reach the Final Four and Butler reach the national championship – twice!

Lehigh, a No. 15 seed, knocked off Duke, a No. 2 seed, in what I see as the beginning to a trend. Clearly, recent history suggests when an unheard of 15-seed goes up against a basketball behemoth in the 2-seed, the 15-seed defeats Goliath and becomes basketball’s newest Cinderella.

With that in mind, look for Milwaukee over Villanova or Eastern Kentucky over Kansas.

But picks like that are too tame for a billion dollars. No one has ever made a perfect bracket, just as no 16-seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed. Correlation? I think so. This is the year of the perfect bracket, and this is the year a top seed goes down. As bold as it would be to pick any of the No. 1 seeds to lose their opening game, it takes the boldest of the bold to win a billion dollars. Don’t take Coastal Carolina over Virginia, that’s too easy. Instead, go all the way: Albany over the overall top seed, the Florida Gators.

Sure, Florida has only two losses all year, boasts a balanced lineup of experienced players and a championship coach and currently own a 26-game winning streak, but how does that compare to the scrappy Great Danes, a team that just missed the 20-win mark but won the America East Conference and then won their play-in game over Mount St. Mary’s? They even have the word “Great” in their nickname; how can you not expect them to pull off the greatest of all upsets?


Don’t Listen to the Experts

If you’ve even turned on ESPN since Selection Sunday, you have undoubtedly seen everyone in the sporting world jump on the Michigan State bandwagon. During one bracketology special, every single analyst predicted the Spartans would be cutting down the nets in Dallas. “Barack-etology” followed suit, as President Obama also chose Michigan State in his annual Presidential bracket. Famed political blogger and numbers guru Nate Silver has taken his analytical prowess to college basketball and dubbed Louisville as his champion, with a whole 15 percent vote of confidence.

But 15 percent won’t get you a billion dollars.

Sure, Nate Silver may have correctly predicted every presidential election in our lifetime, and maybe every expect and the leader of the free world thinks Sparta is going to run the table, but neither Jay Bilas nor President Obama has ever had a perfect bracket.

Be different, be bold, be a visionary. Choose a small school in the middle of nowhere, champions of a mediocre conference, whose best player is a 22-year-old white guy. Choose Creighton.

So there you have it. My advice to our loyal readers consists of unheard of upsets, complete disregard for expert opinion and an unlikely champion. Follow my advice and you just may become the laughingstock of every pool you enter, or you could be the one laughing at the rest of your peers who seriously thought Wichita State was going to keep that perfect intact. Just remember me when you cash that billion-dollar check.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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