The Big Money
With the NCAA title game tonight, Harvard students have more on their mind than hoops. They're thinking about...
The NCAA men's basketball title will be decided tonight in Minneapolis, Minn., and, though Harvard won't be represented on the court, many students here are certainly looking forward to the game.
While many plan to watch simply for the excitement of championship basketball, others eagerly anticipate the event for its lucrative potential.
Students participating in betting pools hope to cash in on their pick of tonight's winner.
"The NCAA just lends it self to betting," says Ezra B. Perlman '93, who is organizing a pool of 50 people in Quincy House.
The NCAA betting pool systems vary, but they all rest on the principle of selecting winning teams.
Walter E. Sipe '95, who is organizing a pool of 22 in Weld, says that each participant lays down $5.
Poolers then fill in seeding brackets, writing down in advance who they think will win.
Betters receive points for every correct prediction, and if they advance to the upper rounds, they receive more points, according to Sipe.
The person who accumulates the most points snags the bulk of the cash, with the remainder going to second and third place poolers, says Perlman, who also follows this system.
"This is the standard procedure, but there are some more exotic methods," Perlman says.
A pool organizer living in Matthews, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that in his particular system, the 64 NCAA teams are placed in a hat, and participants pay $3 a pick. The person who holds the tournament winner's name collects the cash.
All the organizers interviewed extolled the virtues of these betting pools.
"They're a good idea. They create excitement and they keep people interested in the more obscure games," Sipe said.
Scot H. Landry '92, who is running a pool of 30 in Mather, agrees that betting keeps the fans involved in the tournament.
"They give people somebody to root for," Landry says.
Landry--a seasoned pool organizer--says that NCAA tournament pools, unlike other forms of betting, are fair and relatively harmless.
"They don't bankrupt people. They just give the winner something to brag about," Landry says.
Perlman concedes that pools "are of questionable legality."
But, he says, these pools do not pose nearly the threat to society that bookmaking and other forms of underground betting do.
NCAA tournament pools, he says, are much smaller and certainly more friendly.
High Level Corruption?
Landry says that a Mather house administrator's wife is actively involved in the pools.
"She doesn't know that much about basketball, but has placed in the top three for the past two years," Landry says.
"You don't have to be a basketball afficionado to participate," he says.