This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

A New Kind Of Madness: Grinnell College Basketball Pool Takes An Alternative Approach To The Bracket

GRINNELL, Iowa, March 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of Grinnell College faculty and staff have come up with a way to make March Madness more interesting.

For the past few years, rather than filling out traditional brackets, the Grinnellians have each invested a predetermined amount of (imaginary) money in eight NCAA tournament teams through an auction format.

As Erik Simpson, a pool participant and associate professor of English at Grinnell, explained in a blog post, each participant has an imaginary $25 to spend as he or she chooses. "Teams are bought in a standard auction format, with rising bids in 10-cent increments," he notes. But in the Grinnell auction, participants don't choose one team to win each tournament game; instead, participants purchase teams according to whatever criteria are most important to them -- the team's win-loss record, personal affiliation, mascot name or whatever. This means that participants don't have to restrict their choices according to game or conference -- they pick the teams they like regardless of where the teams are in the bracket. 

Each game that a team wins is worth a certain percentage of the total auction pot. For example, in the eight-person Grinnell pool, each victory in the first round is worth $2.50. A win in the second round nets an additional $3. Victories in subsequent rounds earn a few bucks more, and the tournament champ earns a total of $28.50, against an initial investment of $25.

Grinnell's March Madness auction was born about five years ago, during an informal conversation between Simpson and Doug Cutchins, Grinnell's director of social commitment. Auction formats are standard in some fantasy sports, Simpson noted, "so Doug had this idea of applying it to March Madness." The notion caught on, and the March Madness auction has become a rite of spring.

Clearly, Grinnell auction participants aren't in this for the money. Instead, Simpson says, the unusual format is designed to keep the contest interesting. "The problem with the traditional bracket approach," he notes, is that the vast majority of the games have a conventional outcome. It's the favorite versus the underdog -- and it's therefore completely uninteresting to pick a favorite to win." In the auction approach, participants can't share teams -- the team "belongs to" the player who believes most strongly in that team and has bid the most for it. "So there are degrees of faith," Simpson explains. "You may be sure that Duke's going to win -- but how sure are you? That will determine how much you're willing to bid, and whether you wind up rooting for them in the end."

What this sets up, Simpson says, "is a pool that becomes expressive. You can tell where the participants' passions lie by looking at how they invest their money."

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.64 0.00%
FB $118.57 0.00%
GOOG $698.21 0.00%
TSLA $241.80 0.00%
YHOO $36.53 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,891.16 +117.52 0.66%
S&P 500 2,081.43 +16.13 0.78%
NASDAQ 4,817.5940 +42.2360 0.88%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs