Can’t believe it’s been a year since Kendall wiped the floor with the rest of us, but here we are, ready for another year of the Bracket Challenge. With five teams in the field, there’ll be plenty to keep New England baseball fans busy this weekend, but if filling out a bracket will help you enjoy things even more, read on.
The Ground Rules
This is a completely free, just-for-fun competition. Below I’ll outline what info I’ll need from everyone, how to get it to me, and how we’ll keep score. Brackets must be submitted via email or the SurveyMonkey no later than 11:59 AM EST this Friday, one minute before first pitch of the Clemson and Tallahassee Regionals.
Filling Out Your Bracket
I don’t care how you get it to me, but here’s the information you have to have in order to enter.
(1) Rank each regional. Nothing complicated, just 1-4, in order of finish. If we take Bryant’s Charlottesville Regional, for example, you need to tell me who among Virginia, Bryant, East Carolina, and William & Mary will go 0-2 (that’s #4), 1-2 (that’s #3), finish as the runner-up (#2), and win the Regional (#1). A little different than the basketball brackets, but if we didn’t do this, it’d be like skipping straight to the Sweet Sixteen on one of those.
(2) Pick your supers. Once you have 16 Regional winners, pick who wins each best-of-three series. If you pick TCU to win its Regional and Texas A&M, the top seed in the paired Regional, to come out of College Station, for example, tell me which of these teams wins the Super and gets to Omaha.
(3) Rank each side of the CWS bracket. After picking your eight Super Regional winners, you’ll have four teams on the left side of the CWS bracket, and four teams on the right. Rank each set of four 1-4, just like you did for Regionals. A 4 means you think they guy two-and-cue (Omahaspeak for 0-2), a 3 means 1-2, a 2 means they lose in the national semifinals, and a 1 means they move on to the national title series.
(4) Pick of National Champion. Select a winner of your championship series, along with how many games it’ll take (2 or 3) and a score of the final game.
Getting Your Bracket to Me
I’m adjusting things a bit from last year to (hopefully) make it more convenient for folks, but here are some options.
(1) Print out a bracket here, fill it out, scan it or take a picture, and send it to me at email@example.com.
(2) Send me the info in a plain-text email.
(3) Visit this Dropbox link, download the attached Excel bracket, and once you’ve filled out all red-outlined boxes, email me the result at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(4) Visit this other Dropbox link, where you’ll find an editable PDF bracket courtesy of one of our more technically savvy readers. Same deal as the Excel option: download, fill out, and send to me at email@example.com.
However you do it, get those four pieces of information to me no later than 11:59 AM EST Friday. Good luck!
Points will be awarded on the following basis:
(1) Regional ranks. (odds: 1 in 4, points: 10 per correct rank) — In the first round of scoring, you get rewarded for each rank you pegged correctly in ranking Regionals 1-4. If you guessed correctly that a lowly #4 would go 0-2, 10 points for you. If you had the right feeling about that host going belly up after two games, 10 points for you. If you picked that special three seed that made a run to a regional title, 10 points for you (and more later). Regional ranks will give you either 0, 10, 20, or 40 points from each Regional. (Not 30. Trust me.)
(2) Regional champions. (odds: 1 in 4, points: 40 per champion) — Technically, you have the same odds of pegging the Regional champion as you do the team that goes 0-2, but it’s a much greater show of skill to get the champion right. So in addition to whatever you picked up for the Regional ranks (first place included), you get 40 points for every Super Regional entrant you get correct. Thus, a perfect Regional is worth 80 points, 40 for getting every rank correct, and another 40 for the champion. If you only get the Regional champion, 50 points are still heading your way, 10 for the one rank you got correct, and 40 for that one right pick being the champion.
(3) Super Regional champions. (odds: 1 in 8, points: 125 per CWS participant) — The odds says I’m overrewarding a bit here, but I’m trying to. To my mind, correctly picking which of the eight teams in each pair of Regionals will get to Omaha is the prime show of skill possible in this style of bracket. After that, things go a bit haywire. So I’m giving you more than twice the reward I did for Regional champions, even though it’s only half as tough, statistically speaking, to pick the Super Regional champion. And this way, all of you who get the entire CWS field will get an even thousand points.
(4) CWS Bracket ranks. (odds: 1 in 32, points: 150 per correct rank) — I know the odds here say the reward should be higher, but I feel like this is really a crapshot. If you get an Omaha team correct, I don’t want to withhold that many points from you if you told me they’d go 1-2 there and they end up going 0-2. So if you are able to tell me how a team does in Omaha, the reward’s just a bit more than the one you got for getting them there in the first place.
(5) National title series berths. (odds: 1 in 32, points: 250 per correct rank) — Same us as the bracket ranks, but it means a lot more to me that you pegged the correct team to make the national title series. If you do, it’s 150 for getting their rank correct, then another 250 for the feat itself.
(6) National Champion. (odds: 1 in 64, points: 500) — The odds say I’m undervaluing this a bit, but I’m trying to. I think it’s awesome if you pick the National Champion (I’m giving you more than you’d get for getting perfect regionals on an entire side of the bracket, after all), but I don’t want someone with a bad bracket to be able to easily swoop in and steal it from someone who got a lot more Regional and Super Regional champions correctly.
(T) Tiebreakers. — We’ll cross this bridge if we come to it, but it’ll involve something to do with the title series length and final game score predictions you’ve all been including in your brackets.