First Four Options

Two first-round games to feature showdowns between teams playing for two of the No. 16 seeds.
Two first-round games to feature the last four of the 37 at-large teams selected to the tournament.
First time in history that the last at-large team will be revealed.

With the three added games to the 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket, and as of OfficePool 2011 version 1.1 or higher, there are basically three options for the First Four play-in games.

Option 1) Use the First Four play-in games

Pros: All games will count, including very interesting matchups between the last four at-large teams.

Cons: Small window (Sunday night to Tuesday evening) to collect brackets.


Option 2) Don't use the play-in games

Pros: Maximum window (Sunday night to Thursday morning) to collect brackets

Cons: Four games will be missed, including very important matchups of likely #11 or #12 seeded teams; Lots of people asking you why you are not including the first four games; First four games will have double teams displayed (e.g., Butler/Marquette) on bracket.

Option 3) Use the First Four (play-in) games but allow picks up until the Thursday games

Pros: Maximum window (Sunday night to Thursday morning) to collect brackets; All games are counted for those who get their brackets turned in on time; Option to have no penalty for missed picks.

Cons: More work for the Pool Manager.

Options 1 and 2 are pretty straight forward and nothing has changed from 2010 other than, instead of one play-in game, there are now four.

For Option 3, here is how this scenario would play out for the Pool Manager:

To encourage early submission of brackets, award an X amount of points for correctly picking the First Four games but don't penalize them if they miss. For example, suppose you picked Butler to beat Marquette in a First Four matchup and you also picked Butler to advance to the Final Four.

Now, what if Marquette beats Butler? In this scenario, you would get no points for the missed pick but you would then get Marquette advancing to the Final Four instead of Butler.

Steps the Pool Manager would need to take for Option 3:

    1. After games are announced, upload the Web Entry Form and notify your players (Rules will be very important here).

    2. Once the First Four games begin, take the Web Entry Form down so no picks can be made.

    3. Once the game is completed, advance the winner of the First Four game on "The Results" bracket and upload a new Web Entry Form, this time selecting the Fill Form To Results option (This is a crucial, do not forget this option).

      NOTE: Step 2 & 3 should be repeated as each First Four game is started and completed.

    4. Collect and Import all your brackets and make sure all your scoring parameters are correct, including the First Four.

    5. Again, make sure all brackets have been imported/entered into OfficePool. At this point you have two options:

      1. You can leave the brackets as is, and those who submitted early, will be penalized for later rounds if they didn't correctly pick the First Four games (not good pool karma).

      2. "Fix" the First Four game results so that those who submitted their picks in early will not be penalized for missed First Four picks.

      If you choose the first option, you are done (for shame!)

      For the second option, simply select the Make First Four Correct... menu item under the Brackets menu.

Now you should have have points awarded to those who correctly picked the First Four games but also have the correct teams advancing for those incorrect picks. For those who got there picks in late, nothing changed for them because they used the updated forms with the correct First Four picks.