2017 NCAA Tournament Pool FAQ

Q:    What is the deal with this "First Four" thing?

A:    Don't even get me started on the First Four. 64 teams was so neat, but then the NCAA needed to screw it up and add a 65th team several years ago. Then they went to 68. As a result, the final 64 teams won't be known until about 11:30pm on Wednesday. You do not need to pick these games for this pool. You'll notice on the entry form that the spots that will be filled by First Four games name both teams playing in that game. You can wait until Thursday morning to enter if you want to risk it, or you can enter earlier. If you pick the winner of a First Four game to advance one or more rounds in the tournament, I'll give you credit for the win no matter which of the two teams playing in the First Four game advances.

Q:    Did you fix that problem from 2012 where checking the standings on your smartphone redirects you to a non-existent mobile site?

A:    Yup. You should get the full site when viewing on an iPhone or Android device. If you're using a BlackBerry, then use this pool as an opportunity to upgrade your smartphone.

Q:    How many times can I enter?

A:    As many times as you'd like.  Please make sure you give each of your entries a unique name.  It's $10 per entry. Also, when giving each entry a unique name, please don't use emojis. They work on some of the reports but not others for some reason. Make sure when you send in payment you let me know which entries the fees are for, even if you've already send me an email letting me know who they're for. It just makes my job a lot easier.

Q:    When is the deadline for entries?

A:    12:00 noon EDT Thursday March 16th.  If the time stamp on your email is dated 12:01pm or later on Thursday March 16th your entry is void (even if you see the confirmation screen that your entry was received).

Q:    What's with the new logo?

A:    I used one of those graphic design contractor sites to pay someone five dollars to make it. I like it.

Q:    How often are the standings updated on the web site?

A:    They are updated after the completion of each day's games at a minimum.  If I'm still awake they'll be updated that night, but they'll be updated by 9am the following morning at the latest.  I travel a bit for work so there are some windows when there will be delays. After the regional finals (which finish up on Sunday, March 26th) I will provide a detailed analysis of payouts for all remaining scenarios and all entries still alive for a prize.  The software also starts calculating which entries are mathematically eliminated after the first weekend's games are complete.

Q:    Do I have to enter online?

A:    YES!!!  I'm expecting to get about 175-250 entries for this pool, and each one I would get on paper would take me several minutes to enter.  Each one I get submitted from the online entry form takes me five seconds.  It helps keep my sanity (or at least what little sanity I have remaining), and it virtually eliminates the chance of an entry error.  It's really quite easy to use.  Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.    

Q:    But I hate those online entry things.  I won't enter if you don't take a paper entry.

A:    That's not technically a question, but my response is "sorry".  The pool is now too big for me to handle all those paper entries.  It takes far too much time, and I'm at the point where I'd rather forego the entry than enter it manually.  Please don't ask for an exception.  I'm not going to grant it.  If you're not willing to enter online then this is not the pool for you.

Q:    Do you take entry fees via PayPal?

A:    I prefer a check because my PayPal account levies fees for most transactions. However, if that's really the best way for you to get me the money, send me an email telling me how many entries you want to pay for. I'll respond with my PayPal email address (do NOT send PayPal funds to the pool email address please!!!) as well as how much you need to send, including surcharge (if applicable). The surcharge will only be to cover the fees PayPal levies on my account. I will not profit one penny from any extra fee I charge you. If you want to avoid the surcharge, please send from your checking account as a personal payment. Every year two or three people send me PayPal entries with fees deducted, and I have to refund it and ask them to pay again. Please spare me this extra step.

Q:    I'm a little short on funds right now.  Can I pay you later?

A:    No.  Pay up.  I hate to be a jerk about this, but collecting the entry fees is easily the worst part about running this pool. There are too many people in this pool for me to chase even a small fraction of the entry fees after the fact.  If you're mailing the check I understand I may not have it by tip-off on Thursday, but the envelope you send it in should be postmarked no later than Thursday.  I understand that the odds are that you, dear reader, are an extremely credit-worthy individual.  However a few bad apples in the past have ruined it for everybody. I'm still bitter that several years ago I vouched for the entry of someone I thought I knew well enough to trust and he stiffed me.  Sorry.  PLEASE send the money promptly.  If you don't have it in the mail by Thursday send me an email. 

Q:    I just looked at the PDF file of my official pick sheet and I see there's a mistake.  What should I do?

A:    That depends.  If it's my mistake simply let me know via email and I'll fix it once I verify the error was my own.  One important note: you must correct any mistakes I've made no later than Tuesday, March 21st.  This is to avoid a situation where a mistake is caught after I've paid the winners at the end of the pool.  Your picks should be available online for review no later than Saturday March 18th. Probably earlier.  

If you made the mistake filling out your original bracket you're out of luck.  It is important to note that all entries must be logical, meaning that every winner has to come from one of the teams playing the game before.  Some years I get a couple of entries where someone makes an impossible selection, such as A beating B, C beating D, but then B winning the game between A and C.  My software can't handle it and I will change your bracket to some sort of logical path of my choosing.  I will change the minimum number of games I need to make your bracket logical and you'll have to live with those selections.  Also, if you forget to fill in a game I'll choose a team that keeps your bracket logical and you'll have to live with my decision.  If you notice you missed a game on your sheet before tip-off of the first game, send me an email and I'll fix it.  Once noon EST hits on Thursday my selection for your blank or illogical pick is final.

Q:    What do you do if someone forgets to enter a tiebreaker?

A:    I will enter "100" as your selection.  Please don't ask me to change it.  It's a pain to amend entries once the tournament has begun, and if I do it for one person I have to do it for everyone.  The best thing to do is to remember to fill in the tiebreaker when you fill out your sheet!!!

Q:    How does the tiebreaker work?

A:    You should enter the total number of points you think will be scored in the final game.  For example, if you think the final score will be 67-61, you should enter "128" in your tiebreaker slot.  In the event of a tie the entry closest to the tiebreaker score finishes ahead of the other tied entry.  If two entries are still tied after application of the tiebreaker there'll be no further tiebreakers, and those entries will equally split whatever prize(s) they're tied for.  For example, if player A has chosen 130 as his tiebreaker and player B has chosen 126 as her tiebreaker and the score of the final game is 128 those entries would still be tied because each missed the final score by two points.  If they were tied for first they would each win one-half of the combined value of the first- and second-place prizes.

Q:    Can I enter using a pseudonym?

A:    Yes.  This has been allowed for a few years now.  The entry name you use for your sheet will be what shows up on the report.  This will keep your name out of Google searches and the like.  However, you must provide me your real name and email address in those fields on the entry formYour real name and email address will not show up on the web site. I am not guaranteeing you'll stay anonymous, I'm just saying I'll keep your name off the website if you'd like (unless you stiff me on payment, in which case that promise is null and void).  When people ask me "who was this 'Grayson Allen's Knees' person who won the pool", I'm going to tell them the winner's real name.  This is to avoid people wanting to beat me up because they think I made up a false winner and am stealing their money.   

Q:    Is there any award for the entrant who gets the lowest score?

A:    Yes, eternal shame.

Q:    How much do you take out of the prize fund for running the pool?

A:    Nothing.  100% of entry fees go into the prize fund.  I only profit if I have an entry that places in the money.

Q:    How do we know you're not cheating?

A:    I'll post my picks (and the picks of any other entrants from my immediate family) on the web site as soon as possible on Thursday.  Print them and keep them handy to make sure I don't change my picks if you doubt me.  Otherwise you'll just have to trust me.  <insert evil laugh here> I did win in 2015 for my only cash in the seventeen years I've run the pool, so maybe printing my entries isn't a bad idea...

Q:    If I don't know you is there anything else I should give you with my entry?

A:    No, just make sure you enter your real name and your real email address.  If you have a typo in your email address it's going to be hard for me to get in touch with you if you win a prize.  Also, when you send me the check please make sure you let me know who the check is for.  All too often I get a check for five entries and only know who one of the entries being paid for is.  Don't be that guy.  Or that gal.  

Q:    How is the pool scored?

A:    Points are awarded as follows:

The tiebreaker (see above) will come into play for players tied for any of the four prize positions.  

Q:    I can't log in to the online selection form!  What should I do?

A:    This used to be a big problem, but hasn't been the last several years.  I'm not relying on a third-party entry site this time around.  Everything is hosted on my web server, so it shouldn't get so overwhelmed with entries that you have a big problem.  It would still be a good idea not to wait until the absolute last minute to make your picks though.  If you're running into trouble, please try again in a few minutes. 

Q:   Where do I send my entry fee?

A: My address is...


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If you have any questions, send me an email at mattolsen@yahoo.com.