by A.J. Coltrane
Before the NCAA Tournament I thought it would be fun to get a few people, give them $100 in Monopoly money, and have a blind bid on the tournament teams. The entry fee was 1 “twinkie” per person. The high bidder on the team that won the tournament would receive 3 twinkies, and the 2nd highest bidder would break even and gets his/her twinkie back.
I thought it would be an interesting experiment in game theory — do you put all of your money on a big favorite? There’s a very real possibility that everyone else will want to do that too, so you’d better bid a lot or risk wasting your investment. Alternately you could spread your money around, but what would be the minimum to “claim” each team?
As an added twist, it was possible to bid on “The Field”. “The Field” was defined as every team “leftover” that nobody had expressly bid upon. So — do you bid a lot on The Field, or do you value certain teams enough to put a nominal amount of money on them and hope you don’t get outbid?
The Outcome Of The Bidding:
|Ohio St||20||10||6||20||56||Elite 8|
|The Field||10||10||2||20||42||Final Four|
|Michigan St||2||2||Sweet 16|
|Gonzaga||2||2||Round of 32|
I [AJC] went with the strategy of trying to get as many teams as possible. I feel like I did pretty well for myself — I “won” Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, and Pittsburgh. If Florida, Duke, or Miami won the tournament I’d still break even. Overall it represented two #1 seeds plus a bunch of good quality to back it up. That “quality” wound up being half of the Final Four teams (Michigan and Syracuse.)
But what was I thinking with Pittsburgh? Bleh.. at least they were cheap.
Ultimately my strategy didn’t work out, of course. The #1 overall seed in the tournament was Louisville, and they did indeed win it all. (Though I was feeling pretty smart when Michigan was up 12 in the first half of he championship game.) Louisville was the team that we bid the most upon in total, and there’s definitely a good correlation between where we chose to invest and how wells the teams actually fared. The biggest “overperformers” were Michigan and Syracuse, while Georgetown was the biggest letdown.
Anyhow, I had fun with it. Hopefully somebody will want to try it again next year.