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To Win NCAA Tournament Pool, Go With 1,1,2,3

Illinois

Think picking all the top-seeded teams as the Final Four in your March Madness bracket is your best bet for winning the office pool? Think again.

According to an operations research analysis model developed by Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and the director of the Simulation and Optimization Laboratory at Illinois, you’re better off picking a combination of two top-seeded teams, a No. 2 seed and a No. 3 seed.

“There are patterns that exist in the seeds,” Jacobson says. “As much as we like to believe otherwise, the fact of the matter is that we’ve uncovered a model that captures this pattern. As a result of that, in spite of what we emotionally feel about teams or who’s going to win, the reality is that the numbers trump all of...

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