Registration for the $200 HSAC Analytic Bracket Contest Is Now Open

Update: First round entry is now closed. Stay tuned for the next wave!

As announced on Friday, HSAC is holding a tournament bracket challenge. A total of $200 in prizes are up for grabs. To be eligible for them, you have to donate $5 to the tsunami disaster relief effort per entry. Make your picks here for the rounds of 64 and 32 before noon EDT on Thursday! Here’s all the relevant info.

First, the prizes: since our original goal was to set up a school-wide bracket, the prize-eligible Harvard undergraduate with the most points will receive a $100 gift certificate. Any Harvard undergrad can participate except those on the HSAC exec board (who can fill out brackets, but won’t be eligible to win.) If you’re not a classmate of ours, don’t worry: the non-student prize-eligible bracket with the most points will also receive a $100 Amazon gift certificate. (Harvard students are not eligible to win both.) See below for the details about the tsunami relief donation required to win.

We’re also using a different scoring system than you’ll find elsewhere. Most conventional brackets don’t give fans the opportunity to use the full extent of their expertise: in a standard scoring format, there’s no reason to ever pick upsets, and scoring systems that reward upset picks do so inefficiently. In the HSAC contest, the points are structured on Nate Silver’s win probabilities. Here’s the formula for the number of points you get for picking a team in a particular round:

Probability team does NOT win that round * round number * 10

Here’s an example: Ohio State has a 99.8% chance of winning their first game. That means they have a .2% chance of losing. .002 * first round * 10 means you get a whopping .02 points for picking Ohio State in the first round. On the other hand, correctly picking their opponent to win is worth 9.98 points. If that all sounds confusing, don’t worry: we’ve done all the point calculations for you. Each potential point total is listed on the form.

You’ll fill out the bracket in three waves, once before the round of 64, once before the Sweet 16, and once before the Final Four. In each case, you’ll get a clean slate, meaning you’ll only be picking one round into the future at any point.

A few other very important notes:

  • Here are the websites for the Red Cross and GlobalGiving.
  • To be eligible to win any of the prizes, you must show us a proof of donation of at least $5 minimum per entry to the disaster relief charity of your choice. This donation must be made by noon EDT this Thursday (3/17), using the email that you have provided to us. This is to prevent people from making a donation only after they think they have a better chance of winning the prize, since we will only be checking the donations of prizewinners. We will be strict about this.
  • Multiple entries are allowed. $5 minimum donation per entry (you don’t have to make separate donations; one $15 gift would cover three entries). There will be an option for multiple entries on the form, so please don’t use a different email address.
  • We’re ignoring the play-in games before the round of 64.

Happy picking! We’ll post the next entry and a leaderboard after the conclusion of the second round.

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