How do you pick 47 of 48 NCAA tournament games correctly? We asked someone who did it

When it came time to make his NCAA tournament picks for his wife’s office pool, Jeff Goodman found that he couldn’t see the team names on the computer screen very well.

So he handed the laptop to his wife Ruthanna and started reading his predictions off to her.

Ruthanna laughed when she heard them.

“I thought I was wasting my time and money,” she admitted.

Jeff remained steadfast, however.

“I told her it was my bracket and it wasn’t hers,” he said. “I told her to just keep filling it up.”

Goodman’s picks might have been out there at the time, but he’s looking like the smartest guy in the room as the tournament heads into its second weekend. Goodman correctly predicted 47 of 48 games the first weekend, picked every Sweet 16 team (only one of three Yahoo users to do so) and owns the bracket that sits atop the Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’Em leaderboard.

You can see his picks here. He has West Virginia toppling Kentucky in the title game with Oregon and Florida filling out his Final Four. His lone misstep has been picking Minnesota over Middle Tennessee State in the first round, which is a tad ironic considering 12th-seeded MTSU was favored and a popular pick among analysts.

So what does the 45-year-old asphalt foreman from Nelson County, Ky., attribute his success to?

Jeff Goodman’s bracket drew initial skepticism from his wife Ruthanna. (Ruthanna Goodman picture)
Jeff Goodman’s bracket drew initial skepticism from his wife Ruthanna. (Ruthanna Goodman picture)

“I’ve been saying it’s 40 percent knowledge and 60 percent luck,” Goodman said.

Goodman said he’s won pools before, but never done this well. He is a big Kentucky fan and “was raised on college basketball.”

But if you’re looking for any complicated system or deep research, you’re not going to find it here.

No one who bleeds Wildcat blue would ever get behind Duke, so that helped him when it came to picking the Blue Devils to be upset by South Carolina in the round of 32.

Goodman watched a lot of Wisconsin this year and remembers the fortitude they showed in spoiling Kentucky’s perfect 38-0 season in the 2015 Final Four.

So he picked the Badgers to beat top-seeded Villanova.

Goodman picked Rhode Island to beat Creighton because he heard Dick Vitale talking them up. But it didn’t come without some hesitation because Vitale loves all things Duke, of course, and Bobby Hurley’s brother Dan is the coach of the Rams.

As for that Minnesota pick? Goodman tabbed the Golden Gophers because he remembered that ex-Kentucky coach Tubby Smith used to coach there.

“Something rang in my head,” Goodman said, not minding that Minnesota is coached by Richard Pitino, son of the most complicated man in Kentucky basketball history.

Goodman actually entered two brackets into the competition at Park Community Credit Union and the second one ranks just behind his other one on the Yahoo leaderboard.

The brackets are almost identical except for two big differences: He flipped the winner of his title game (Kentucky over West Virginia in this one) and thought Michigan State might be capable of beating Kansas in the round of 32. (They were not, so Goodman’s other bracket featured “only” 46 of 48 correct picks.)

“The sleeper I’ve been telling everyone all year long about is Bob Huggins [and West Virginia],” Goodman said. “I was trying to cover my bases.”

Goodman actually hopes that his second bracket ends up being the winner in Park Community’s pool because it means Kentucky and one of his favorite players, senior Derek Willis, won the tournament.

Kentucky was selected as national champion by 6.2 percent of Yahoo Pick’em players, compared to only 0.4 percent for West Virginia.

“I was comfortable with my picks,” Goodman said. “My wife thought I was crazy, but I felt good. We’ll see how they do this weekend. Go ‘Cats.”