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

The decision-making process varies according to player. Although he teaches in the humanities, Simpson's bids are "strictly rational," he says. He comes to each year's auction armed with a spreadsheet that shows what he believes is each team's "strict rational price."  The spreadsheet can be updated on the fly -- so if Simpson is outbid on a team he wants, the updated spreadsheet provides him with the data he needs to choose the team that is statistically the next best option. "Sometimes I depart from the spreadsheet values in the heat of the draft," he says, "but I usually regret it."

Because of the pricing and value propositions that underlie the Grinnell auction, the event yields a different kind of bracket. This year, for example, Simpson picked three teams each in the East and Midwest conferences, and one team each from the West and South conferences. Participants don't get the standard benefit of having a winner or loser in every tournament game.

But there are other benefits. The auction format allows for differentiation, Simpson notes. "It acknowledges degrees of commitment; it's not just black and white," he says. In addition, like the traditional bracket, it builds excitement for underdogs: "Everyone remembers who had George Mason the year they won," he notes. Finally, and best of all, "it's fun," Simpson smiles.

The lack of a clear favorite in the current tournament kept bidding lively in this year's auction, Simpson noted. He said Florida was popular in Monday night's bidding, drawing heated offers from many participants.  

This year, Simpson has directed his "strictly rational" bids to a host of mid-ranked teams that he's familiar with. He "spent" $5.80 of his $25 on Michigan, for example; he also bid $5.30 for Syracuse and $5.10 for Wisconsin. Already, Butler's first-round win has nearly earned back the $2.90 that Simpson bid for the Bulldogs, while St. Mary's loss in the first round cost him only 10 cents.

About Grinnell College Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at

Contact: Stacey SchmeidelDirector of Media Relations704/682-2629

SOURCE Grinnell College

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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