Since we're not predicting this final game of January and thus have a break...and since sometimes I read comments from people at how bad they are at predicting...and since Darth Danny is coming in at the end of the week to try and steal a jersey away from all of us (and we don't want that to happen)...I thought I'd take advantage of the break to offer some barely-solicited advice on playing the jersey contest. These are things I've kind of picked up along the way watching you guys play and tabulating the scores. Take it for what it's worth. (Let's hope Dan doesn't read too closely. Nobody go blabbing on Bright Side of the Sun, now...)
RULE #1: Have fun with it. It's supposed to be a diversion. If you just want to just wing it, feel free to ignore everything hereafter. Pretty much anything can happen in any given game...why not your thing?
But for those more serious about it...
- Obviously, play every game you can. Even a "0" is better than an "x" because you had potential points there.
- The key to the contest is getting the game winner and bonus question right. Devyn blew away all competition last month by averaging just under 54 points per game. That annihilated everyone. Those two questions are worth 50 between them. If you get them right every game you will be near the front, if not the outright winner, no matter how far off your stats are.
- Don't use contrarian strategies too early! You score points by being right, not being different. I see people say that they have to predict a certain way because they're reacting to what the leader does, but then the leader turns out right and they turn out wrong and they fall even farther behind. The only time I would predict based on what the leader does is if there were two games left, I was close, and I knew I had to make up a certain number of points to overtake them. Otherwise you should always go with what you think is right. A corollary: It's better to make up 12 points in a game than to fall behind by 30 (or 40, or 50) more.
- Most of the time (but not always...sometimes they're just whimsical) the bonus questions are designed to offer a legitimate choice...maybe not exactly 50-50 but it could go either way. Sometimes it doesn't look like that on the surface though. If you see everybody predicting on one side and you did have a mind to be contrary, this might be the area to do it.
- When predicting your stats, start with the averages, then adjust. You can find stats in places like this. This is pretty much the sweet spot in the season for averages. Early on there weren't enough games to make them trustworthy. A little later on when the priority switches to playing the youngsters more they're not going to do as much good. However you do need to adjust up or down depending on the opponent. If you're not familiar with the opposition the game previews might help. For instance when playing a good defensive team like Houston you might guess that the scoring would adjust downward, whereas Memphis would trend upwards. The same holds true for individual matchups. You could really go all crazy with details in stuff like this but I'm not sure how much good it would do. Just take your best shot. It does behoove you to know that if the Blazers average around 11.5 offensive rebounds per game 30 is not a great guess.
- If you're really serious about making a run at it, predict with your head and not your heart. My general rule is I'm probably being too optimistic about the Blazers' chances by half.
- This month's Double Down opportunity puts in a new wrinkle. If you're sure you're going to be around for all the games it allows you to skip one you think is more risky and double your score on one you think is a sure thing. Don't skip one too early if you think you might be gone later though! You can only double once.
- I don't know how to emphasize this strongly enough: Make sure you fill out every line of the form! Some people forgot to put in final scores last month. When that happens you automatically lose the 30 points for predicting the winner correctly PLUS you lose all 50 of your statistical points, because to be fair to everyone who did predict I have to assume you missed it by the maximum possible. So that's 80 out of 100 points down the tubes right there. Same thing happens to those 50 stat points if you skip a stat line.
- Don't give up! Every month there's somebody with one or two rotten picks who later ends up near the top of the scoreboard with a shot to win. One wrong move by the guy on top and you can make up points in a hurry. Almost every game somebody in the field picks up between 15-25 points on the leaders no matter how well the leaders do and larger leaps are not uncommon. Even if you're out of range late in the month, those scores of 22 and 100 will still net you prizes. ZenBowl got the 22 late in the month in January, which means he's walking away with a prize when many who scored better for the month aren't. And personally I'm curious to see if anybody gets the 100. It would be rare, but OH what bragging rights! (Plus an instant jersey on the spot! And even former winners can claim this one!)