I'm in a couple of NCAA pools and am employing a gambling-oriented -- as opposed to sentimental -- strategy in making my picks. That is, despite the fact that I live in Louisville, I'm picking other teams to win.
In most scoring systems, the lion's share of the points are given for correct choices in the later games, meaning that you have to pick the champion correctly to win the pool. And, since hometown fave Louisville is a credible #1, they're showing up on a disproportionate number of brackets. If Louisville wins, the winner will be determined by who picked the winners of the higher-risk games early in the bracket.
I'm lousy at that, because I don't really know that much about college basketball and don't really care who wins, for example, Akron-Arizona State game. Instead, I'm differentiating myself by picking other, locally unpopular teams who are, nonetheless, credible #1s. On my various brackets, I've chosen Connecticut, North Carolina, and the widely reviled Duke to persevere. Duke may be a long shot, but the odds of Duke winning the NCAA are better than the odds of me picking the first 32 games correctly. Also, I guarantee that if Duke wins, I'll be one of about three people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky with the Blue Devils as champion, since there is no team more hated here than Duke. (Forget getting beat up in a bar. There are churches in Kentucky where you'll be attacked if you say something nice about Christian Laettner.) If Duke wins, the money will come rolling in. Maybe even enough to pay my resulting medical expenses.
In my heart of hearts, however, I hope U of Lou wins. My son is a student there, my wife used to work there, and I do a lot of research in their library. Most importantly, I eat at a restaurant frequented by coach Rick Pitino, so it's almost like I'm on the team myself.