SURVEY SAYS: Who's Your Pick(s) in the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament?

March 17, 2011 ( - March Madness is (almost) upon us.  

This week I asked readers (a) if they were participating in a pool, who they were picking (and who they’d LIKE to be picking) in the Men’s NCAA Division 1 tournament – as well as their big “upset” pick.

First off, most of this year’s respondents WON’T be participating in a pool; a full 70%, in fact. 

Nor could that result be explained by the standard “prohibition” about such things in the workplace.  Among those who said their workplace had a prohibitive policy:

17.9% – yes, but no one pays it any mind

16.8% – yes, and it’s not allowed

 6.3% – yes, and it’s encouraged.

As for those who did not have a policy, that was the case at 29.5%, while a matching 29.5% said they had no such workplace policy prohibiting these kind of activities.

Though most weren’t participating, there were many who were; roughly one-in-five (19.6%) were, 4.1% are participating in more than one pool, 3.1% were participating in a pool with more than one bracket sheet, and just as many (3.1%) are participating in more than one pool with more than one bracket sheet.

As for picks, among the teams picked to win the tournament, Ohio State drew the support of a full quarter of this week’s respondents (24.7%), well ahead of second-most popular Kansas (16%), and third-most cited Duke (9.9%).

After that, the picks really fell into “onesies” and “twosies”, but for those of you looking to see your team name in type, the teams that got at least one vote of support in this category:



Notre Dame


UNC Asheville


Arkansas–Little Rock






As for making those picks, a clear plurality (38.9%) said they took “about a minute.”  In the “about 5 minutes” group were 18.5%, and a comparable number deliberated for 15 minutes to a half hour.  Just over one-in-ten (11.1%) took about 15 minutes, while 9.3% said they “weren’t keeping track.”  Just under 4% were “embarassed to say”, though why they was not clear.

Of course, the key to winning these brackets (not that I’ve been able to) is a combination of picking the right team at the finish AND picking that all-important upset team in the early round that takes out everybody’s big pick.  Asked to identify their big upset pick in this year’s bracket, the top pick was – Belmont, named by 5.4%.  Butler was second-most cited in the upset pick (hey, remember last year?), named by 3.6%, as were:

San Diego State



Utah State





Now, setting aside picks (or upsets) to win, this week I also asked readers which team they WANTED to win.  The findings here may explain the relatively tepid response to the other categories, because the most-cited team was Duke, and it drew the support of a mere 6.2%.  Kansas, Michigan, and Ohio State each drew 4.9%, while Syracuse, St. Peter’s, and Wisconsin got the support of 3.7% each.

Oh, and as for reader observations – there were some good ones:

We tell our employees gambling is not allowed, but we have "squares" sold for football and basketball (March Madness) every year.

You're missing one option above: yes, and it's encouraged! I work at a large insurance company who is a sponsor of the NCAA, and we have an open pool, with prizes, right on our homepage. There's no betting, if that's what you mean, but there are prizes given by management.

I really don't care much one way or the other.   I do find it entertaining to see the people who fill it out on a whim beat the "fanatics" who know all the stats.

It'd be interesting to know how much productivity declines during march because of this "madness."  Come to think of it, there *is* a reason it's called "madness."

Blah. I really am not even positive what March Madness is.

I'm not going to go looking for it either.

Live and let live.

There is a history of bad snow storms during this time in Minnesota.  Everyone knows we get one more than not during the tournament.  Coincidence? I think not. I pretend it isn't happening, hoping that will keep the snow away.  We've already had just under 80".  I'd like to be done for the winter.

I don't think it's allowed, but the organizer sends out an e-mail to our local branches using company e-mail with a link to the CBS website with the pool.  He calls the $5 bet a "donation."  I actually won $50 two years ago!

We are having a family pool at home.  The winner's prize hasn't been determined yet and not all the brackets are filled out.  That will happen tonight even though it will be after a couple games.  My 3 boys are very excited to fill out their brackets and see how they do.  2 TV's in the family room and a great weekend of basketball ahead.  Michigan probably won't make it out of the weekend but we can always hope.  Go Blue!

They help company morale; involve employees (and their kids) at all levels.

Our pool cost, recommended of $5 per bracket, goes to Relay for Life.

Hey, if it weren't for the ability to enjoy some illicit gambling on company time, the NCAA tournament wouldn't be any fun at all!

Does anyone think a policy against pools would really stop them?

My pool is not at work it is a pool I enter through a friend. There is a lot of time wasted on these "work" pools but the aggravation for trying to stop them is more effort than the week that they waste.

Harmless, good for morale while weather is still generally lousy.  Folk have to have something to talk about at the coffee machine anyway.

Very few people in our office are interested in the tournament.  I can't imagine we could generate sufficient participation to make a pool worthwhile. 

I've only participated in one and won $100. I figured I'd better not push my luck and stay out of them now.

I actually haven't entered a pool yet but expect to get in at least one.

It is a waste of time.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “Sure we have a policy, but HRD runs the best, and fairest, pool going.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!