Louisville college basketball
Louisville won the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Reuters

The 2014 NCAA Tournament is set to take over the sports world for the next three weeks. Even non-sports can get into March Madness, because of their office pools.

How To Win

The winner of an office pool is often times someone who knows very little about the teams in the tournament. Following a few simple tips can help a novice fill out a better bracket than a college basketball junkie.

There are always a few major upsets in the first weekend of the tournament, and they can be fun to root for. However, the cream usually rises to the top in March. The key to winning an office pool is predicting most of the Final Four teams correctly. Since 2001, only three teams to advance beyond their regions were seeded higher than No.5. Going with the higher seeds may not be very exciting, but it is often the smartest play.

When deciding on a national champion, it’s wise to choose a team that has a top coach, who’s been a perennial winner. As recent history has shown, the team that cuts down the nets on April 7 will almost certainly be led by a coach who will end up in the Hall of Fame, if he isn’t there already. Some of the more renowned coaches in the tournament include Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas), Roy Williams (North Carolina), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Rick Pitino (Louisville), John Calipari (Kentucky), and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) among others.

Expert Predictions

When filling out their brackets, college basketball analysts often avoid picking major upsets in the later rounds, predicting the top seeds to reach the Final Four. This year, though, it’s not only the No.1 seeds that are being selected to win the national title.

Both Louisville and Michigan State enter the tournament as No.4 seeds. They have also become two of the trendiest picks to make a deep run. Many experts were shocked to find out that the Cardinals, who entered Monday as the fifth-ranked team in the nation, were not even a top three seed. The Spartans are also favorites to advance from their region, even though they were almost voted out of the top 25 a week ago.

As the top team in the nation, Florida is a pick by many experts to win the title. Kansas and Duke are popular selections, as well.

Keeping Score

Different scoring systems can be used for office pools. All follow the same, general pattern, with the point values increasing, as the tournament moves on.

In many pools, the point values are multiplied by two in each round. For example, picking a winner in Round One is worth one point, followed by two points in Round Two and four points in the Sweet Sixteen. In such a system, predicting the national champion would earn someone 32 points.

Other pools place less of an emphasis on predicting the Final Four teams. A scoring system that sees points increase by one each round is common, and rewards those who predict early-round upsets.