I love the office pool (even though I don't work in an office and the school I work at doesn't do a pool). There's the classic pool where you get a certain number of points for each correct pick and the points awarded increase by some amount. There are lots of alternatives. Some involve giving greater weights to upsets. One of my favorites is for you to pick five players as your tournament team. You get as many points as they score in the tournament (which means that you want to pick players who can score and who play on teams that will do well and therefore play more games). Heck, you could also run a tournament where you try to pick the losers making the first round the most important round (one pool I was a part of for a number of years gave second to last place 10% of the winnings).
Anyway, speaking of mathematics there are some great mathematical questions here: a classic What Can You Do With This?
- How many people would need to be in your office to guarantee a perfect bracket (a nice counting problem)?
- How many total games are played (a nice counting problem that has a very clever solution involving no counting)?
- Using the Vegas odds of each team winning the tournament, what's the most likely bracket outcome? What's the probability of this being the actual outcome?
- And finally...how many hours of basketball am I going to be watching over the next month?