Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2019

2019 - The Pool Ends on a High Note

We've been doing this 30 years, and we've decided that just might be enough. All Good Things, and all that. So we're somewhat sorry to say this has been the last Pre-NCAA Contest.

It's possible we'll change our mind, but if we were in your Nikes, we wouldn't count on it. If we do happen to flip-flop and go for a 31st year, you'll hear about here, on this blog, first.

It's been a blast running the contest all these years, and it's been great to cyber-meet and interact with you all. Enjoy your year, and may all your future tournaments be exciting.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Wahoo Wah

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Virginia was the laughingstock of college basketball, having become the first #1 seed to lose to a #16. Now, the Wahoos are champions.

Congratulations to Harlan, who won the contest and tied Brady's 24-year-old record with 379 points. Congrats also to C Whiteside (2nd place, 352 points), Warner (3rd place, 325 points), and Biebel 3 (first place after selection of the field).

Full standings may be found here or from the links on the right-hand side of the page.

Rivalry Report, 2019

In an earlier post we highlighted a few of our historical rivalries. And while B Peloso doesn't get to test his mettle against K Sullivan this year, several other rivalries are still hot and heavy.

Predictably, C Whiteside (312 points and Virginia as his champion) once again whomped Booth (231), giving Booth an all-time record against her arch-nemesis of 1-17 (a rousing 5.6% winning percentage). K Ripley's (239) record improved to 5-2 (71.4%) against her brother M Wanger (232), but dropped to 7-10-1 (41.7%) against her father R Wanger (268 and Virginia). For good measure, K Ripley conquered her brother's friend Avila too (237).

J Donadio (258) barely lost to son J Donadio Jr (260), and if Virginia wins he'll get eclipsed by daughter L Donadio (251 plus Virginia) as well. Dale Dye (253) and M Peloso (232) once again proved that women know best, at least when it comes to their own men (Doug Dye (250) and B Peloso (221)). And D Josephs (274 plus Virginia) edged son M Josephs (273 plus Virginia) by a mere point.

It's always wild and wacky in Leachville. This year 8th-grader Sami Leach not only declared she would be the best middle school contestant but vowed also to beat her sister Madi Leach. And what do you know but the kid walked the walk as well, as Sami Leach (289) not only spanked her older sister Madi Leach (262), but also her cousin (and high school basketball player) Elle Leach (272), her father P Leach (220), her grandfather Ed Leach (244), and every other Leach who dared to cross her path (Sup Leach (246 plus Virginia), L Leach (232), and of course cellar dweller Mash Leach (179)). If Texas Tech win tonight, Sami Leach will not only be our best middle schooler, but our fourth highest score of the year.

Things aren't so good for long-time contestant R Schlegel (258), who not only lost to his son L Schlegel (274), lost to his cousin Reid (273 plus Virginia), and if Virginia wins will have lost to his cousin's friend Blane (247 plus Virginia), but he also misspelled his own name on the entry form ("Rcik").

And that seems as good a place as any to end this report.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tag Teams, 2019 edition

Way back in the early days of the contest, the Alliterative Acchiones plus some of their cohorts declared themselves the "Nova Gang." Other groups sprung up to challenge them, and before we knew it we had a fierce annual Tag Team competition. The Leach Clan was perhaps the most colorful (and least successful) of these groups, but from Arnie's Army of Bridge Players to Whiteside and his Enemies, every year was a contest within the contest.

This year, the top team of taggers was the Former Residents of 12A, who averaged 270.0 points, finishing ahead of the Schlegel Consortium (263.3) and the Friends of DBR (255.8). Finishing behind the leaders but ahead of our more traditional tag teams, Whiteside and his Enemies (252.0) can claim mediocrity ahead of Ripley Believe It or Nots (244.0). And as they have so many times over the years, the Leach Gang finished in the cellar, with a paltry average of 243.2.

In the name game, the best name for pool picking is clearly David (271.7), by a whopping 20+ points over Jeff (251.5), Kevin (249.8), Rick (247.5), Joe (also 247.5), John (246.4), and Matt (245.7). If your name is Mike (238.0) or George (211.5), witness protection might just be for you.

The #metoo movement has been big in the last year, but it's been going strong for decades in our contest and this year is no exception as females (261.1) came out on top of males (247.9) by quite a bit. Truth often comes out of the mouths of babes, and sometimes good gambling sense as well, as children (262.4) were significantly better than adults. The battle of the species gave us a true upset, as both humans (249.7) and canines (239.0) fell ignominiously to lawyers (257.0).

From a regional standpoint, New York City and environs (264.6) was a fine setting for prognostication, ahead of the Beltway area (254.7), greater Philadelphia (250.6), the deep South (244.0), and the far West (239.8). On a statewide basis, Tennessee (280.0) was tops, ahead of New York (270.8), Maryland (266.0), New Jersey (260.5), Illinois (250.7), and Pennsylvania (250.0). If you live in Virginia (249.0), California (243.5), Oregon (232.0), or Florida (220.0), witness protection might just be for you.

Among our favorite universities, Pitt is for pool-pickers (255.5), barely edging Duke fans (255.1), Penn State backers (238.8), Gonzaga aficionados (233.0), and Villanova enthusiasts (228.0). If you root for VCU, witness protection might just be for you (and how long you think that joke's gonna play?).

If you're in sales (236.5), you can try to convince us that you weren't the worst pool-picking profession, but we probably won't buy it. If you're in management (236.8), you might want to delegate the next time you play. If you're a teacher (244.3), your students (264.9) think they know better (and apparently do). If you're in the financial world (253.5), you might want to retire (254.3). And if you're an attorney (270.0), witness protection might just be for you (you knew it was coming one more time, right?).

So that's that. Another tag team tussle is behind us. Tomorrow, we'll wrap up with our Rivals Report and, oh yeah, there might be a basketball game going on. See you then.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

One more game

Two good games tonight. When it's over, Virginia will have played the entire tournament without facing any #1 or #2 seeds (their path has been 16-9-12-3-5-3), something that has only happened once since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. The one other time? The year our contest started, 1990, when UNLV faced a path of 16-8-12-11-4-3. Coincidence? We think not.

Harlan has won the pool, and C Whiteside has finished second. If the Hoos win, Harlan will tie Brady's all-time record for most points in our contest (379). Also happy if Hooville presides will be Warner, who will win third prize. If the Red Raiders win on Monday, Biebel 3 will take third place.

Great Moments in Pool History - Winners & Losers

Winners and Losers

Thirty years of winners. Thirty years of losers. Here are the full lists:

1990: D Kedson (360)
1991: N Sullivan (341)
1992: N Rosen (365)
1993: L Harlan (352)
1994: N Rosen (325)
1995: E Campbell (335)
1996: P Brady (379) -- ALL TIME HIGHEST POINTS
1997: Mash Leach (316)
1998: M Josephs (308)
1999: J Marsala (344)
2000: TIE: J Donadio Jr/N Mahalko (274)
2001: B Kedson (347)
2002: C Bland (346)
2003: G Brindisi (326)
2004: K Biebel (313)
2005: TIE: J Butscher/K Wanger (308)
2006: L Donadio (268)
2007: M Peloso (344)
2008: C Whiteside (361)
2009: TIE: C Nowakowski/R Wanger (328)
2010: J Crotty (317 - NON-PAYING); 1st prize: K Biebel (305)
2011: B Huffnagle (223) -- LOWEST 1ST PLACE SCORE
2012: L Harlan (356)
2013: A Sanders (295)
2014: N Baumgarten (257)
2015: D Tester (360 - NON-PAYING); 1st prize: N Baumgarten (354)
2016: M Peloso (325)
2017: N Naumgarten (339)
2018: J Donadio (302)
2019: L Harlan (379) -- ALL TIME HIGHEST POINTS

1990: D Horn (265) -- HIGHEST LAST PLACE SCORE
1991: TIE J Mannato/H Haynes (240)
1992: K Gray (186)
1993: J Henderson (216)
1994: TIEJ McCloskey/Mash Leach (150)
1995: D Kedson (196)
1996: Domino Leach (182)
1997: B Shaid (140)
1998: E Carson (102) -- ALL TIME LOWEST POINTS
1999: R Vigliotta (207)
2000: M Ubaldini (144)
2001: B Spitz (184)
2002: E Gordon (173)
2003: K Terhune (162)
2004: Z Ehrmann (173)
2005: J Harrison (166)
2006: Sami Leach (171)
2007: J Gordon (196)
2008: Madi Leach (192)
2009: Kids Leach (185)
2010: N Booth (169)
2011: B Wright (115)
2012: B Spitz (168)
2013: Urban's Angels (135)
2014: Urban's Angels (114)
2015: A Cristinzio (176)
2016: J Tharp (151)
2017: C Myers (172)
2018: R Simon (179)
2019: Mash Leach (179)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2014

2014 - Booth beats Whiteside

You know the guy. The one who constantly rubs it in your face, who taunts you with his successes at every opportunity, who trash talks his relatives, his co-workers, even his kids? The guy you just have to beat? Well apparently Booth knows him better. His name is Whiteside (C Whiteside, to be precise), and he's her brother-in-law.

Each year, as Spring approached, Booth thought "this is the year." She filled out her entry form, she crossed her fingers, she publicly announced her intentions to beat her nemesis. But from 2003 (Booth's first year in the contest) through 2013, it never happened.

2013 was especially painful, as Booth fell to Whiteside by a mere point, 219 to 218. It seemed like the dream would never come true.

And then it did. The very next year. In 2014, Booth bested Whiteside, by 20 points, no less (245 to 225). It was a great day for underdogs everywhere, a tribute to the impossible dream.

Booth hasn't beaten her brother-in-law since. Her overall record against her arch-rival: 1-16, a 5.9% success rate.

At least it's not zero.

But Booth vs. Whiteside is not the only blood feud we've instigated here.

K Ripley has been playing in the contest since she was K Wanger, and each year she has proclaimed her only goal is to beat her father (R Wanger), her brother (M Wanger), and her husband (P Ripley).

The good news is, she's been a lot more successful than Booth. While it's close, over the years she has a losing record against father R Wanger (7 wins, 9 losses, and a tie). She has managed to thrash brother M Wanger, 4 wins against 2 losses, and beat her husband P Ripley, 7 wins against 5 losses. She even managed to spank her son (A Ripley) in the only contest the tyke entered.

But no blog post about bitter competitors can be complete without mentioning B Peloso and K Sullivan. In her first contest, K Sullivan finished in second place. She proceeded to trash-talk B Peloso for an entire year, and it was on. K Sullivan beat her rival again in 1999, and again in 2000. And two out of three after that. But then B Peloso struck back, winning three of the next four years. Back and forth and back and forth. At this point, both suggest their only interest in entering is bragging rights over the other.

So what's the result? You guessed it: 9 wins for K Sullivan, 9 wins for B Peloso, and a tie (in 2014). Yep, it's a complete deadlock.

K Sullivan declined to enter the contest this year.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - in the Family Way

This has always been a family-friendly contest. Husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings, even occasionally family pets, have all entered the contest and competed against each other (and to a lesser extent, everybody else). But several families stand out, at least in sheer quantity. We'd like to mention some of them here.

One of the first families to participate in the contest was the family unit we dubbed the Alliterative Acchiones. Led by Bill, Buddy, and Butch - but later joined by Amy, Jake, and Maureen - they founded the first of our many tag teams (the Nova Gang) and participated year after year. Sadly, for the Acchiones, none of them ever won a contest...

...which is not something you can say about the Donadios. We've had five (5) Donadios participate in this contest (John, John Jr, Lucia, Mary Ellen, and Nicholas) and three (3) of them (60%) have won the contest: John Donadio in 2018; John Donadio, Jr in 2000 (tie); and Lucia Donadio in 2006. Pretty impressive for a group that all lives in the same house.

The Wangers/Ripleys, not all from the same house, have also represented well. It started with Randy Wanger and his two children, Mike and Kelly, but when Kelly got married, she dragged her husband Paul and child Aaron into it as well. As the two most eager participants, it's only fitting that the two contest winners from this family are Randy in 2009 (tie) and Kelly in 2005 (tie).

This commissioner's own family, the Kedsons, has also been well-represented. The commissioners wife (Susan), child (Brandon), parents (Len and Phyllis), mother-in-law (Bobbie Shaid), brother (Ira), nephew (Jack), cat (A Capella), brother's dog (Quasi), and brother's cat (Eesara) have all at one time participated in our contest. The commissioner himself (David Kedson) won the contest in 1990, then finished last in 1995. The commissioner's son Brandon won in 2001.

But the most prolific and flamboyant family to have graced the annals of our contest is undoubtedly the Leaches. Led by patriarch Ed Leach, no fewer than eleven (11) different Leach family members have participated in the pool: Ed, Elle, Kids, Domino, Leo, Madison, Mash, Perry, Samantha, Surprise, and in-law Manny Pogach. The entire clan can only collectively boast of one contest win (Mash Leach in 1997), but an amazing five (5) Leaches have finished dead last: Mash Leach in 1994; Domino Leach in 1996; Samantha Leach in 2006; Madison Leach in 2008, and Kids Leach in 2009. Fittingly, the outrageous Mash Leach will this year bring that total up to six (6) and become only the third multi-year last place finisher, as Mash has clinched the bottom spot in the 2019 contest.

Not So Great Moments in Pool History - 2015

2015 - Al Alberts leaves us

One of our greatest contestants was Al Alberts, who played in every contest from our initial one in 1990 through 2014. He didn't enter the contest in 2015, and we wondered why. When we found out, we eulogized him in this re-purposed post from 2015:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Monday, March 2, 2015
Titled: "RIP, Al Alberts"

The commissioners are saddened to have learned that Alberts has passed on to that great sports book in the sky.

One of the few people who played in each of the first 25 Pre-NCAA contests, he was also one of our best recruiters, bringing friends and co-workers to the contest in droves. His highest contest achievement was a second place finish in 1996, but he was usually hanging out in the top 20.

We used to play in "Sportie Al's" weekly college basketball pool back when he worked at Urban Engineers, and remember him as a really nice guy who was totally devoted to sports. You can bet that wherever he is now, he's either running some heavenly pool or participating in one.

We'll miss you, Al. The contest won't be the same without you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2010

2010 - A Better Omen

Yesterday we detailed our harrowing travel adventures leading to the 2009 Final Four. The very next year we got wise and drove to Indianapolis for a much more user-friendly experience, as chronicled in this re-purposed post from 2010:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Wednesday, April 7, 2009
Titled: "The Omen"

We were looking for omens. It's a long drive from Philadelphia to Indianapolis, and on Friday, April 2, we were unsure what the weekend would bring. We crossed Pennsylvania without seeing anything unusual, and left West Virginia in the dust (which felt good). Soon after that, however, the psychic vibes became evident.

Two trucks vied for supremacy in the right and middle lanes, the one with "Baylor" scrawled across its side moving confidently ahead of the one reading "Old Dominion." An RV with "Georgetown" written in large letters seemed to be stuck in first gear as little compact cars with Ohio license plates raced past it.

And then we saw it. A towering pole with a sign in the shape of a crown, and a single word etched inside. And suddenly all our doubts evaporated into the Ohio air. We knew who the champion would be. And all seemed right with the world.

And yes, that really happened.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Not So Great Moments in Pool History - 2009

2009 - The commissioner's plane gets canceled

This particular commissioner traveled to 21 Final Fours from the year before the contest started (1989) through 2010 (plus a 22nd Final Four in 2015). Getting there is not always easy, however, as this re-purposed post from 2009 illustrates:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Saturday, April 4, 2009
Titled: "Take your omens as you find them"

Sometimes one has to suffer for one's obsessions. This particular commissioner traveled to his 20th Final Four yesterday, a fact that utterly failed to impress the USAirways automatic assistant when it called four hours before the commissioner's scheduled departure time to inform him via pre-recorded message that his flight had been canceled. Humans working at USAirways were similarly unsympathetic, asserting that all other flights to Detroit were booked solid, leading to this lightly edited conversation in the commissioner's about-to-spontaneously-combust brain:

Commissioner: No kidding it's booked solid. It's the friggin' Final Four! You canceled my flight on four hours notice, you can't squeeze me onto another plane?

Unsympathetic USAir employee: Sorry, we're only required to do that if the situation is our fault.

C: I've had a reservation for four months and you canceled it on four hours notice. Whose fault is it?

UUE: Would you like to fly somewhere else?

C: Would you like to move the Final Four somewhere else?

Ultimately, we compromised on tickets to Akron/Canton, Ohio, a mere three and a half hour drive from Detroit, a flight which had the added advantage once we arrived at the Philadelphia airport of being postponed for four hours, making our door-to-door travel time a pleasant ten hours.

But that's not what this story is about.

We finally arrive at Akron and trudge out to our rental car, for which Hertz has compassionately agreed to charge us only $157 since we're picking the car up in Akron and dropping it off in Detroit the next day. The commissioner's eight-year-old son wanders around to the back of the car, to stow his backpack in the trunk, when he stops and calls out in horror, "OH, NO! Daddy come quick!"

We're standing in Ohio on our way to Michigan, but the license plate of our rental car says, "North Carolina."

So, that happened. We enjoyed that Final Four (though as Duke fans, not the end result). And we've been to Final Fours in Minneapolis twice (and both times our favorite team won), but (sadly) not this year.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Four Square

Wow. Four Elite Eight games, and the biggest "blowout" was Texas Tech's six (6) point win over Gonzaga, along with two overtime games and Michigan State's 1-point squeaker over Duke. Guess the fans got their money's worth.

But how about our contestants? For just the third time in contest history, a wild card has reached the Final Four (1996 Mississippi State, picked by 13; 2013 Wichita State, picked by 1 (Sciarabba), and now 2019 Auburn, picked by 7: Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside).

Virginia was a popular pick, chosen by 36 into the Final Four and by 18 as champion. Michigan State was selected by 10 to make the Final Four and by three as champion (Karlsruher, L Leach, J Whiteside). Texas Tech was picked by 7 to make the Final Four (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner) and by none to win it all.

Our three prizewinners, depending on who wins the championship, are as follows:


Harlan, 379
C Whiteside, 352
Warner, 325


Harlan, 339
Karlsruher, 313
C Whiteside, 312


Harlan, 339
C Whiteside, 312
Biebel 3, 292


Harlan, 414
C Whiteside, 387
Biebel 3, 367

So, congrats to Harlan, who has won the contest for a record third time (no matter which team wins), and to C Whiteside, who also wins something no matter what. And I guess to Mash Leach (179), who has become only the second entrant to finish last in two different contests.

Full standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Halfway to Four (aka, Two)

Well we're halfway to the Final Four, and though the standings at this stage are a little bit meaningless, Harlan is still in the lead with 289 points, followed closely by Warner (285) and C Whiteside (282), and less closely by D Kedson (275), L Schlegel (275), D Josephs (274), Reid (273), and Tester (270). Full standings may be found (as always) through a link on the right-hand of this page, or here.

Congrats to the seven entrants who followed Texas Tech into the Valley of the Four (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner); less so to the zero (0) entrants who picked the Red Raiders to be national champions.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Eight May or May Not be Enough

The Eight has happened. And with three 1-seeds, two 2-seeds, and two 3-seeds in the Elite Eight, we still only have 35 out of 58 contestants with more than half of the Elite Eight correct (and that's including wild cards).

Amazingly, we had a contestant (Tester) who got 7 of the 8 correct, though predictably that contestant is a non-paying entrant. An additional seven entrants got 6 of 8 (D Kedson, L Schlegel, D Josephs, Warner, Sami Leach, Harlan (including Auburn as WC), and C Whiteside (also including Auburn as WC).

Balancing out those seven are seven contestants who only accurately predicted just 3 of the 8 Elite Eight teams (Serri, Rybaltowski, Marshall, J Broder, E Pogach, Templeton 2, and Mash Leach).

Harlan is now in first, with 269 points, followed by Biebel 3 (262), C Whiteside (262), D Kedson (255), L Schlegel (255), D Josephs (254), Tester (250), and Sami Leach (249). The top three in the standings all took Auburn as their wild card.

A lot more to happen over the weekend. Full standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1991

1991 - The UNLV Discount

In 1991, undefeated UNLV was such a prohibitive favorite that the commissioners, hoping for a little diversity in champion choices, diverged from the normal scoring options. Instead of awarding 40 points for champion, as we've done in every contest since, we only promised 30 points to entrants who took UNLV to win it, and attempted to entice any choice other than UNLV with 50 points.

In retrospect, the succeeding events were obvious, but in 1991 who knew? 21 of 27 contestants (77.8%) went with UNLV anyway, and as became customary in later years, that overwhelming majority guessed wrong. Only two entrants got the points for eventual champion Duke, and one of them (N Sullivan) won the contest, with 341 points.

We have never offered such a "discount" again.

Oh, wait, you came here for current news? OK, halfway through to the Elite Eight, the standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here. Of the top four scores, three (75%) have been turned in by Davids. And Booth is only one point behind C Whiteside. Besides that, who cares? The standings are meaningless until after tomorrow's games.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Advanced Math: Eight plus Four

In two earlier posts, we talked about the 46 eliminated Elite Eight entries and the seven foregone Final Four fiascos. Now let's talk about the 418 Elite Eight picks and the 225 Final Four selections that are still alive.

Here's the E8 breakdown:

Duke 53
Gonzaga 51
Virginia 51
Kentucky 43
North Carolina 43
Tennessee 40
Michigan 34
Michigan State 29
Texas Tech 24
LSU 16
Purdue 13
Houston 12
Florida State 5 (Baum, Doug Dye, Gorenstein, Sup Leach, Rybaltowski)
Virginia Tech 4 (Dale Dye, M Peloso, E Pogach, Templeton)
Auburn 0
Oregon 0

As a reminder, these are the already eliminated Elite Eight entries:

Kansas 10 (Biebel 3, Ed Leach, Mash Leach, J McAtee, B Peloso, E Pogach, Selig, Templeton 2, B Whiteside, J Whiteside)
Marquette 9 (Baum, Biebel 2, M Josephs, J McAtee, E Pogach, Rubinson, Rybaltowski, Steinhardt, Templeton 2)
Villanova 7 (Avila, J Broder, D Kedson, Sami Leach, L Schlegel, Selig, Tester)
Nevada 7 (Doug Dye, M Kleiman, L Leach, Marshall, Paston, Rybaltowski, Serri)
Buffalo 2 (M Paston, Sciarabba)
Wisconsin 2 (Booth, L Leach)
Iowa State 2 (Atkinson, Sup Leach)
Kansas State 2 (Marshall, Sciarabba)
VCU 1 (Templeton 2)
Maryland 1 (Mash Leach)
NC State 1 (K Ripley)
Washington 1 (J Broder)
Cincinnati 1 (J McAtee)

And here's the F4 breakdown:

Gonzaga 40
Duke 38
Virginia 36
North Carolina 30
Kentucky 20
Tennessee 18
Michigan 15
Michigan State 10
Texas Tech 7 (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner)
LSU 5 (Biebel 3, Doug Dye, Mash Leach, Sup Leach, R Simon)
Purdue 4 (Butscher, D Kedson, Elle Leach, Templeton)
Houston 2 (L Leach, J McAtee)
Virginia Tech 0
Florida State 0
Auburn 0
Oregon 0

And again as a reminder, these are the Final Four failures, so far:

Kansas 4 (Biebel 3, Mash Leach, B Peloso, J Whiteside)
Wisconsin 1 (Booth)
Villanova 1 (Tester)
Nevada 1 (Rybaltowski)

It's also worth noting that seven contestants have Auburn as their wild card (Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside).

With almost everyone looking at potential bonanzas, we won't be able to properly ridicule our contestants until some more games have been played. So stay tuned.

Great Moments in Pool History - Firsts of Dubious Distinction

2000 - Sister Kissing

This particular commissioner doesn't have any sisters, so I don't know what it feels like and frankly am too polite to ask. What I do know is that we went ten years of this contest without ever having a tie at the top, then had three first-place ties in ten years, and then haven't had any since.

The first time we had two entrants who had to split the glory (and cash) was in the year 2000. J Donadio, Jr. and Mahalko both had 274 points, which incidentally was the lowest first-place total ever at that time (that record, however was "bested" in 2006, when (oddly enough) L Donadio won with just 268 points, and then shattered in 2011, when Huffnagle won with 223).

Five years later, Butscher and K Wanger (now K Ripley) split the prize, each having 308 points in 2005. Not to be outdone by his daughter, the third tie occurred four years after that, when R Wanger split the winnings with Nowakowski, each with 328 points in 2009.

2010 - Nobility

We always admire when someone plays the contest for the sheer joy of competing, without any hope of actually collecting any tangible reward. Though if it was us, we'd make sure to pay the fee and be eligible for the prizes. For the first 20 years of the contest, the truth appeared to be that those who chose not to pay did so because they really did have no hope of winning, because their picks were, shall we say, uninspiring.

Well, that truth burned to the ground in 2010, when non-paying Crotty won the contest in his first attempt, with 317 points, and was declared the most noble winner we'd ever had. His cash went to Biebel (305 points).

Five years later, it happened again. This time it was Tester, amazingly also in his first attempt, who won with 360 points. His cash went to Baumgarten (354 points).

Interestingly enough, Crotty played in our contest for five more years, and in each of those contests he chose to pay and thus play for both glory and cash. He never won again.

Tester stayed true to his ideals, has never paid, and finished 60th, 51st, and 44th in the years since his day in the sun. This year, he's currently sitting in 33rd place.

1995 - Extremes

Lest anyone think the winners of our contest possess innate talent of some kind that allows them to preternaturally pick better than the rest of us, we offer as Exhibit A commissioner D Kedson. The 1990 winner with 360 points turned around just five years later finished dead last, with a mere 196 points in 1995.

Exhibit B is even more interesting, as we bring you Mash Leach. In the three years preceding the Monster Mash's stunning 1997 victory (316 points), he'd managed to finish 80th, 81st, and 98th, including a last-place "performance" in 1994 (150 points).

In deference to the rest of our contestants, we feel obligated to point out that these two have been the only entrants to pull off this Jekyll-and-Hyde stunt. But we're sure a lot of others came close.

2014 - Two Time Losers

As we mentioned in a previous post, we've had five multi-time first-place prize winners. What we haven't mentioned (at least not yet) is that the contest has only seen one contestant who finished last more than once. That contestant was Urban's Angels who hit the bottom spot in 2013 (135 points) and again in 2014 (114 points, the 2nd-lowest total ever in our contest). Even more impressive, those two years were the only years that Urban's Angels entered our contest.

EDIT: Turns out Urban's Angels was NOT the only multi-last place finisher: Spitz achieved this dubious feat the year before anybody'd ever heard of Urban's Angels, in 2012, after also finishing last all the way back in 2001. And in this current 2019 contest, Mash Leach has finished last for the second time. So there's that.

Which seems like as good a place as any to end this post.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1994

1994 - our first two-timer

In our 5th contest, we had our first two-timer. 1992 winner Norm Rosen won for the second time in three years, giving him 40% of the contest titles (2 out of 5). His performance was even more dominant considering he didn't play the contest in 1990 or 1991. A dynasty was looming. We were facing the Yankees of the Pre-NCAA pool.

But Rosen never won our contest again.

However his feat did stand the test of time. The contest was 23 years old before our next two-time winner. Actually, two years before that (in 2010) we handed out the winning prize to a previous winner, but Biebel, who had won the contest in 2004, really finished second in 2010, only taking the first prize money because the true winner, Crotty, was a non-paying contestant. It wasn't until 2012 that we had a two-timer (other than Rosen) who truly finished first twice, that double-dipper being Harlan, who had previously won in 1993 (coincidentally, the year in between Rosen's conquests).

Somehow the floodgates had opened, because after going 20+ years in which Rosen was our only two-time winner, our 2016 champion M Peloso (who had previously won in 2007) became the 4th such individual (counting Biebel) in seven years.

The third of those four was 2014 winner Baumgarten, though similar to Biebel, Baumgarten's 2015 first prize winnings were courtesy of an actual winner (Tester) who didn't have the sense to pay for his entry. In 2017, Baumgarten became a true two-timer, and our only three-timer, winning the first prize money for the third time in four years.

As a fitting monument to his brilliance, on his historic 2017 entry form Baumgarten misspelled his own name.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Round Two

The second round wiped out all of our wild cards except Auburn, meaning only seven (7) contestants got more than one (1) wild card point: Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside.

The weekend games knocked out surprisingly few of our Final Four and Elite Eight picks, however. As of now, only 46 out of a possible 464 Elite Eight picks (9.9%) are eliminated, those being the 25 we mentioned in this earlier blog post, as well as those devoted to Kansas (10), Villanova (7: Avila, J Broder, D Kedson, Sami Leach, L Schlegel, Selig, Tester), Buffalo (2: M Paston, Sciarabba), Washington (1: J Broder), and Maryland (1: Mash Leach). A mere seven (7) of our 232 Final Four picks (3.0%) have been kicked to the curb - those affiliated with Kansas (4: Biebel 3, Mash Leach, B Peloso, J Whiteside), Villanova (Tester), Wisconsin (Booth), and Nevada (Rybaltowski).

Biebel 3 is now in first place with 202 points, followed by Harlan (199), Baum (196), D Kedson and L Schlegel (195 each), D Josephs (194), and B Whiteside (193). Comfortably in last place is Kirchoff, with 129 points.

Full standings may be found here, or in the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - A Tale of Two Commissioners

1998 - from spam to command

In the contest's early years, our contestants were almost exclusively friends and co-workers of the commissioners. Our first three years we had 18, 26, and 27 entries, and the commissioners could practically knock on every previous-year contestant's door and hand each of them the new year's entry form. Soon, however, word began to spread as if by wildfire. Our next five years, we had 50, 80, 90, 103, and 123 entries, and there were simply too many people for the commissioners to personally remind about each year's contest. By the mid- to late-1990s, the commissioners started disseminating information using a newfangled invention known as "e-mail."

In order to do that, of course, people had to give us their e-mail addresses. We specifically asked each entrant for permission to communicate by e-mail as well as a convenient address to which we could send the entry form and newsletters.

Therefore, you can perhaps imagine our surprise when we received an extremely indignant response to one of our e-mails in February 1998. We don't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, Where do you get off spamming me with this crap? If you ever contact me again, I'll report you.

A little bit stung by this response, the commissioners contritely explained (in a very small electronic voice) that M Josephs had played in our contest the year before and had actually asked us to send the e-mail announcing the 1998 contest. After thinking about it, M Josephs apparently remembered and sent back a filled out entry form.

He was the only entrant that picked Kentucky to win the championship that season, and since Kentucky did in fact win the championship, M Josephs won the contest (and the prize-money that went with it).

He became predictably enthusiastic about the contest thereafter. So enthusiastic that several years later, he volunteered to become a commissioner. His main contribution? Sending out our annual e-mails.

M Josephs has never won the contest again.

2019 - Bob Natalini does absolutely nothing

Original co-commissioner RS Natalini did a little bit of everything. He recruited contestants, distributed entry forms, helped enter selections into the database and helped tabulate results, sent e-mails, co-wrote newsletters, and did whatever else needed to be done. No way the pool would have lasted 30 years without RS Natalini performing his co-commissionerial duties.

The years marched on, and the contest became more and more automated, needed less and less from the co-commissioner. We don't remember the exact words, but at some point he said something along the lines of, You don't need me anymore, right?

He didn't walk away completely. He still played in the contest, both on his own behalf and as a co-entrant with S Adams and Coach Doc. He still encouraged his father, RC Natalini to play. He even submitted entries in the name of his deceased cat, Claude.

But not this year. No, in February 2019, RS Natalini sent us an e-mail a few days before the entries were due, telling us he just didn't have time to focus on the contest this year. For the first time in 30 years, RS Natalini was not part of the Pre-NCAA Contest.

And pool-watchers everywhere shed a single, solitary tear.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Give me Liberty! (said nobody in our contest)

Yeah, we were going to talk about all the savvy contestants who had the guts and foresight to take Liberty as their wild card, except no such people existed. So we'll have to talk about failure instead.

Those who chose our two most popular wild cards appeared in good shape when Mississippi State (taken by 11) got a 5-seed and Cincinnati (also selected by 11) got a 7-seed. Well, after 30 years you probably know the drill: both teams lost their first-round game, thus bestowing exactly zero (0) wild card points on those who chose them. VCU (picked by 3: Atkinson, M Josephs, Templeton), Syracuse (2: E Pogach, Rubinson), and Utah State (1: Warner) also dropped their first-round contests, bringing the total of entrants who got nothing and liked it to 34 (including our two entrants who chose illegal wild cards (J Broder and R Simon), our three entrants who picked non-dancing wild cards (Doug Dye, M Kleiman, Kirchoff) and the one unfortunate who picked a wild card who lost in the play-in round (Avila).

Of course this leaves 24 cagey contestants who've received at least one wild card point: the nine (9) who chose Wofford, the seven (7) who took Auburn, the five (5) who went with Washington, as well as Steinhardt (Murray State), L Leaach (UCF), and Sup Leach (Oklahoma).

All four #1s, #2s, and #3s won, plus three of the four #4s. But that didn't keep Booth (Wisconsin) or Rybaltowski (Nevada) from sacrificing a Final Four team after the first round. A total of 25 Elite Eight picks are also down the proverbial tubes after just one game, thanks to: Marquette (9: Baum, Biebel 2, M Josephs, J McAtee, E Pogach, Rubinson, Rybaltowski, Steinhardt, Templeton 2); Nevada (7: Doug Dye, M Kleiman, L Leach, Marshall, Paston, Rybaltowski, Serri); Wisconsin (2: Booth, L Leach); Kansas State (2: Marshall, Sciarabba); Iowa State (2: Atkinson, Sup Leach); Cincinnati (J McAtee); and VCU (Templeton 2). Special mention goes to K Ripley, who took uninvited NC State into her Elite Eight.

More games today. Seeya.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Chomp Eons

Over the course of 29 years, one thing is certain about our contest -- our most popular champion almost never wins. So, Duke fans, be afraid, be very afraid.

Yes, Duke is our most popular pick, with 19 of us digging the Devils as national champs. But over the past 29 tournaments, that honor came to fruition six (6) times, or 20.7%. Three teams got 10 or more votes (including Virginia (18) and Gonzaga (10)), and no other team got more than three votes. The full breakdown is below:

Duke: 19
Virginia: 18
Gonzaga: 10
Michigan State: 3 (Karlsruher, L Leach, J Whiteside)
Tennessee: 2 (Gorenstein, P Leach)
North Carolina: 2 (Baum, Mash Leach)
Michigan: 2 (Ayala, Elle Leach)
Kentucky: 2 (Ed Leach, M Paston)

All eight of these teams survived the first round. We'll see how they do over the weekend.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wahl'd Kurds

In our 30th year of doing this, it's only fitting that would-be scofflaws still try to fool the commissioners and get around the rules, specifically by picking illegal wild cards. The record number of wild card criminals came in 2002, when eleven people tried and failed to confound us. This year, only two cagey crooks came and went. And, even after 30 years, our delight in naming these misdemeanants has not diminished. So let's all hear it for J Broder, who this year picked #25 Buffalo (in the AP top 25 linked to in the Rules) as his wild card but before that hadn't picked an illegal wild card since all the way back in 2009, and for R Simon, who picked #14 Kansas as his wild card.

Our most popular wild card selections were 5-seed Mississippi State (picked by 11) and 7-seed Cincinnati (also picked by 11), followed by 7-seed Wofford (8), 5-seed Auburn (7), 9-seed Washington (5), 8-seed VCU (3: Atkinson, M Josephs, Templeton), and 8-seed Syracuse (2: E Pogach, Rubinson). One entrant each chose 12-seed Murray State (Steinhardt), 11-seed and play-in game loser St. John's (Avila), 9-seed UCF (L Leach), 8-seed Utah State (Warner), and 9-seed Oklahoma (Sup Leach).

Special mention goes to three contestants who chose wild cards that were not invited to play: Doug Dye, who picked Texas; M Kleiman, who picked Alabama; and Kirchoff, who picked first-round NIT loser Toledo.

Great Moments in Pool History - 2002

2002 - an Entry Form is Born

In our lucky 13th contest, the commissioners decided to go digital. With our entry form, at least. For two years, we'd had an optional computerized entry form, but it was basically a fill-in document. In 2002, we went whole hog (though totally not Razorback). After consulting computer experts from all over the globe (well, actually we consulted one commissioner from the privacy of his living room), we came up with a version of the very entry form we still use today.

There were those who complained about the newfangled form, mostly about how we'd have nothing left to write about in our newsletters (this was still six years before we took the further technological leap of converting our newsletter system to blog posts). Prior to 2002, a large percentage of our newsletters were devoted to entrants hilariously misspelling team names, picking the same team twice (sometimes more than twice), forgetting to choose conference champions, or miscounting the number of teams they chose at large (sometimes too many, mostly too few). With all that taken away, the critics complained, what in the world would we write about?

Our contestants answered at the top of their electronic lungs, picking eleven (11) illegal wildcards (out of 120 entrants). It's a record that still stands.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1996/1997

1996/1997 - the Lunardi Years

Everybody's heard of Joe Lunardi, the self-proclaimed "Bracketologist" who's all over ESPN from December to March, year after year. Well, back in 1996 hardly anyone had heard of him. He was an assistant AD at St. Joseph's and was involved with a fabulous publication called the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

He was also a contestant in our contest.

(1996 Standings)

In 1997, Mr. Lunardi had a couple of phone conversations with one of our commissioners. In possibly our proudest pool-related moment, he told us our contest was the best pool in which he'd ever played (seriously, he really said that).

(1997 Standings)

In 1997 Lunardi started writing a Blue Ribbon NCAA prediction column, which was soon picked up by ESPN. Coincidence? We think not. Though we'll never know for sure because Lunardi stopped taking our calls. The rest, as they say, is history.

For the record, the world's best-known bracketologist finished 18th in our contest in 1996, and tied for 43rd in 1997. On one of his entry forms, he picked Syracuse twice (both as conference champion and at-large, which was possible (though not recommended) in those days because the entry form was still on paper).

And we're not bitter at all. Nope, not one bit.

Monday, March 18, 2019

And they're off...

The field has been selected. Not many surprises with the committee's at-large selections. The biggest puzzlers (at least to our contestants) were Seton Hall (selected by 29), Temple (taken by 38), Belmont (brought up by 40), and Minnesota (marked by 40).

Competition for the prize for best score after selection of the field was fierce. The winner was Biebel 3, with 196 points, barely beating out a trio of Davids (Baum (195), Josephs (194), Kedson (194)), a Luke and Laura (Schlegel, (194) and Harlan, (193)), and four others also within five points (B Whiteside, (193); Madi Leach, (192); M Wanger, (192); M Peloso (191)).

Full Standings may be found here.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Almost There

They're announcing the at-large teams right now, so let's get in one last look after the conference championships.

The last seven conference winners include two teams chosen by a majority of our entrants, bringing the total of teams chosen by a majority up to ten (31.3%):

Big West: UC-Irvine (53);
Ivy: Yale (35);
Big 10: Michigan State (24);
Sun Belt: Georgia State (18);
AAC: Cincinnati (14);
SEC: Auburn (0);
Atlantic 10: St. Louis (0).

Note that two more teams were chosen by zero (0) of us, bringing the total of teams chosen by one or fewer of us up to eight (25.0%) (it's nine (28.1%) if you go with teams chosen by three or fewer of us).

Only one (1) contestant got more than half of the conferences right, and that was B Whiteside, who picked exactly one more than half (17 of 32, or 53%, meaning our leading prognosticator would have gotten a solid F on an sixth grade math test). Three entrants got exactly half right (D Kedson, M Peloso, L Schlegel).

B Whiteside is not coincidentally our leader, before the at-larges are picked, with 100 points, followed by D Kedson (95), Harlan (94), Baum and Gallagher (93 each), M Peloso and L Schlegel (92 each), and Madi Leach (90).

Once they finish announcing the at-larges and I get a chance to enter them into the computer (probably late tonight or maybe tomorrow mid-morning), we'll announce the winner of the mid-contest prize for leading after selection of the field.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Oops, we forgot to add a heading...

A huge day in Contestville, and now they've crowned 25 conference champions.

13 of those conferences were won today. The good news for our contestants is the majority of us picked the winner in six of those conferences:

MAC: Buffalo (55);
WAC: New Mexico State (51).
American East: Vermont (picked by 49);
Big Sky: Montana (44);
Conference USA: Old Dominion (44);
SWAC: Prairie View A&M (31);

The bad news for our contestants is that brings our total of conferences in which the majority of us picked correctly up to eight (8), otherwise known as 32%.

Three of today's conference winners were chosen by three (3) or fewer of us:

Big 12: Iowa State (3: L Leach, Sciarabba, Templeton);
MEAC: NCCU (1: Elle Leach);
Pac 12: Oregon (1: Rubinson).

That brings the total of conferences predicted by one or fewer of us up to six (6), or 24% (and seven conferences were picked by 3 or fewer, or 28%).

The remaining four conference winners were:

ACC: Duke (23);
Big East: Villanova (21);
Mountain West: Utah State (12)
Southland: Abilene Christian (12).

A grand total of four (4) of us have gotten more than half right: D Kedson and M Wanger have 14 right out of 25 (that's 56% for those barely breaking even at home); and B Whiteside and L Schlegel have 13 right (52%).

B Whitesidea is our current leader, with 77 points, followed by D Kedson (76), L Harlan and M Wanger (73 each), Baum and D Josephs (72 each), and L Schlegel (71). In last place, waaaaay behind everyone else, Gorenstein has 4 conferences correct, for 29 points.

The last seven conferences will have winners on March 17. In only three of them is it even possible for a majority-chosen team to win.

Big West: Cal-Irvine (53) vs. CS-Fullerton (2: Biebel 2, L Leach);
AAC: Houston (36) vs. Cincinnati (14);
Ivy: Yale (35) vs. Harvard (19);
SEC: Tennessee (23) vs. Auburn (0);
Big 10: Michigan State (24) vs. Michigan (19);
Sun Belt: Georgia State (18) vs. Texas-Arlington (2: E Pogach, Templeton);
Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure (1: Mash Leach) vs. St. Louis (0).

In less than 17 hours, the whole tournament field will be selected. We don't know about you, but we can't wait.

Friday, March 15, 2019


No new conference champions today, but we'll have 14 conference champions tomorrow:

In the America East, Vermont (favored by 49) plays last year's NCAA tournament darling Maryland-Balimore County (picked by 5: Dale Dye, Madi Leach, Mash Leach, Rybaltowski, J Whiteside);

In the MEAC, it'll be Norfolk State (50) vs. NCCU (1: Elle Leach);

In the Big 12, it's Kansas (18) vs. Iowa State (3: L Leach, Sciarabba, Templeton);

In the Mountain West, San Diego State (chosen by zero) will match up against either Utah State (12) or Fresno (also zero);

In the SWAC, we're talking Prairie View A&M (31) vs. Texas Southern (24);

In the Big East, it'll be Villanova (21) vs. Seton Hall (yet another zero);

In the MAC, Buffalo (55) takes on Bowling Green (1: Templeton);

In the Big Sky, Montana (44) plays Eastern Washington (again zero);

In the ACC, Duke (23) vs. Florida State (dare we say, zero?);

In Conference USA, Old Dominion (44) plays Western Kentucky (8: J Broder, J Donadio Jr, Gorenstein, Mash Leach, Sami Leach, B Peloso, Serri, Warner);

In the Southland, it's Abilene Christian (12) vs. New Orleans (2: E Pogach, Serri);

In the WAC, it's New Mexico State (51) against either Grand Canyon (4: Biebel 2, E. Pogach, Rybaltowski, Templeton) or Utah Valley (2: L Leach, Serri);

In the Pac 12, it'll be Washington (47) against either Arizona State (5: Blane, Booth, L Leach, M Wanger, J Whiteside) or Oregon (1: Rubinson);

And in the Big West, we'll see Cal-Irvine (53) against either CS-Fullerton (2: Biebel 2, L Leach) or Cal-Santa Barbara (2: M Josephs, Mash Leach).

Enjoy the day.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1990

1990 - the Pool begins

The '90s had just begun. The first George Bush was president (that's W's dad, for those not old enough to remember). Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture. Vanilla Ice had a #1 single. And the commissioners had an idea.

We had 18 contestants. The entry form was handwritten. Pools were filled in, verified, and scored by hand. Newsletters were distributed by fax, hand-delivery, or snail mail (back way before anyone called it "snail mail"). It was the first Pre-NCAA Contest, the birth of history.

It was almost a stillborn birth. On the strength of picking Texas (a team that made the Elite Eight) as his wildcard, commissioner D Kedson won his own pool, with 360 points. Fortunately, the other 17 contestants realized it was a fluke and the Contest continued.

D Kedson has never won since.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Five for one, and one for all

We previously mentioned the NEC final was today, and predictably the underdog, Fairleigh Dickinson (21 votes) beat favorite St. Francis PA (28). What we didn't realize was four more conferences crowned champions this evening. And in one (1) of them, our favorite won -- Northern Kentucky (favored by 35) beat Wright State (wished by 19) in the Horizon League, bringing the total of conferences in which a majority of our contestants picked the winner to two (2). Out of eleven (that's 18.2%, for those of you calculating percentages at home).

In the Summit, North Dakota State (guessed by just Biebel 2) beat Omaha (hoped for by 5), and in the WCC, St. Mary's (selected by a grand total of zero (0) of us) beat Gonzaga (selected by ALL (all) of us). Those two bring the total conferences selected by one or fewer to four (4). Out of eleven (that's 36.4%, or twice as many as majority winners, for those of you actually reading this blog post). The last conference champion of the day was Northeastern (picked by 13), which beat our doomed favorite Hofstra (37) in the CAA final.

Baum, who now holds the honor of being the sole entrant in this contest who has picked more than half the conference winners (6 winners out of 11, so barely more than half, with 54.5%), has leapfrogged into first place, with 30 points. Just behind him is B Whiteside, with 28 points, and Sam Leach, with 26. Seven contestants are tied for fourth place, with 25 points (L Donadio, Doug Dye, Gallagher, Mad Leach, L Schlegel, Serri, and M Wanger).

Tomorrow, one additional conference champion will be named (and this time, we mean it). That would be either Colgate (taken by 32) or Bucknell (liked by 18), in the Patriot League.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Two more in the truck

Well, we finally had our first conference champion picked by a majority of our contestants. Wofford (taken by 54) took the Southern, meaning our group now has chosen wisely once out of six. In the MAAC, Iona (liked by 28, so almost nearly a majority, except not) beat upstart Monmouth.

Those two relatively popular winners means there's only one remaining entrant who has yet to glean a point. That would be Templeton 2, who sits in 57th place with 0 points. In first place is L Donadio, the only one of us who has gotten more right than wrong, with 20 points. Five points behind the leader is a 19-way tie, with 15 points.

The NEC final is tomorrow (St. Francis PA (28) v. FDU (21)). Enjoy.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Same old, same old

Seems like every year we talk about how bad our contestants are at picking pools. Probably because it is every year. But in our 30th edition, this one's shaping up to be a classic.

We now have four conference champions, and in exactly none of them have our favorite won the conference. So far, the most popular winner was yesterday's news (Murray State in the OVC, picked by 23 (40.4%)). Three more teams joined the Racers today: those who said "Give me Liberty" in the Atlantic Sun won out, but that was only 16 entrants (28.1%). In the Big South, only one (1) of us managed to guess properly and take Gardner-Webb (that would be J Whiteside), which translates to 1.8%. But believe it or not, that showing surpassed our aggregate pool-picking power in the MVC, where zero (0, in other words, 0%) of us selected Bradley.

Four more conference titles will be decided in the next few days. In the last couple days in the MAAC, lowly Monmouth (chosen by two contestants, Gorenstein and Tester) beat Quinnipiac (taken by 13) and Canisius (liked by 5), and will face Iona (28) in the conference final tomorrow. Also tomorrow, Wofford (favored by 54) takes on UNC-Greensboro (favored by zero) in the Southern Conference. On Tuesday, it'll be St. Francis PA (28) v. Fairleigh Dickinson (21) in the NEC, and on Wednesday we'll see Colgate (32) v. Bucknell (18) in the Patriot League.

As one might guess, the current standings are a mess. Only 34 of us (59.6%) have scored any points at all. Amazingly, six of us (10.5%) have displayed sufficient legerdemain to have reached the lofty total of two (2) correct out of four (J Broder, L Donadio, M Josephs, R Simon, B Whiteside, J Whiteside) and those six share the early lead with ten points.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

First Blood

The first team has fought its way into the NCAA tournament, and that team is OVC champion Murray State (chosen by 23 entrants) who tonight vanquished Belmont (selected by 31).

But that's by no means the only news of the day. Possibly the most astonishing was South Dakota State (an overwhelming favorite, with support from 51 contestants) losing to last-seeded Western Illinois in the first round of Summit League tournament. The result being the Summit team with the most support has become Omaha, taken by just five risk-seeking souls (J Donadio Jr., L Leach, M Peloso, Templeton 2, J Whiteside). In the Big South, Campbell (liked by 22) fell to Gardner-Webb (favored by just J Whiteside), a team that now must face Radford (picked by 29) tomorrow for the Big South championship. In the MVC, our two big favorites (last year's Final Four darling Illinois-Chicago (30) and Seinfeld love-or-hate interest the Drake (19)) both lost, meaning either Bradley (zeroed in by zero) or Northern Iowa (ditto) will represent the MVC in the NCAA tournament and ensuring that absolutely none of our contestants will have selected the MVC winner.

In addition to the Big South and the MVC, tomorrow will feature the conference championship of the Atlantic Sun, where the winner will be either Liberty (16) or Lipscomb (38) -- and not, as erroneously reported in certain sources, Liberty or Death. On Tuesday, in the NEC, it'll be St. Francis PA (28) or Fairleigh Dickinson (21)

Enjoy springing forward.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

And we're off...

Raise your glass, it's contest time, the very first day of our 30th year and we have 57 entrants in the contest. Fitting to this historic occasion, six of those entrants have already lost a conference champion:

St. Francis (NY) lost in the NEC after being chosen by Biebel 3 and Templeton;

Sacred Heart also lost in the NEC despite being the darlings of P Leach, Rubinson, and J Whiteside;

Illinois-Chicago lost in the Horizon, much to the chagrin of Templeton 2.

More (as well as less) pertinent information will follow in the coming days. Have a field day!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Big Three-Oh

The contest turns 30 this year. That's right, as hard as it may be to believe, this year is our Thirtieth Annual Pre-NCAA Contest! So I'm sure you don't want to miss it.

Here's a link to the rules.

Here's a link to the entry form.

The deadline is TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2019, so check you out some Joe Lunardi and get crackin'!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Rivalry Roundup

We have a president who appears to want to drag the country back to the 1950s, so perhaps it's appropriate that the theme for this year's rivalry report is Father Knows Best.

We have a bunch of parent/offspring matchups this year, and in almost every one Daddy administered a spanking. In no particular order, D Josephs (252) reddened commissioner M Josephs's fanny (188), by 64 points; J Donadio (262) gave similar treatment to L Donadio (37 points now, but 77 points if Villanova wins); R Schlegel (259) gave it to L Schlegel (220) by 39 points (though the youngin' might eke out a 1-point win if Villanova takes the crown tomorrow); J McAtee (218) whooped M McAtee's behind (185), by 33; and Leach Gang patriarch Ed Leach (245) not only smacked around his son, P Leach (222), but also his grandchildren (Sam Leach (219); Mad Leach (191); and Elle Leach (241)), his favorite TV show (Mash Leach (191), and even the family dog (Leo Leach (185)). For his part, P Leach (222) participated in the dad-fest, disproving both daughter Mad Leach's (191) proclamation that she would "beat [her] dad," and daughter Sam Leach's (219) claim that she's "the best" in the Leach delegation.

Two fathers showed favorites, as R Wanger (242) took the belt to his daugher (K Ripley (216)) but failed to discipline his son (M Wanger (254)), and C Whiteside (227) went the other way, giving the business end of a birch whip to his son (J Whiteside (209)) but letting his daughter off the proverbial hook (B Whiteside (260)).

In our various sibling rivalries, Sam Leach (219) bested Mad Leach (191); M Wanger (254) vanquished K Ripley (216); and B Whiteside (260) added injury to insult by claiming "Jack stinks" and then trouncing her twin brother (J Whiteside (209)) by 51 points.

Only a few cases of spousal abuse this year, as D'Zuro (253) beat wife K Sullivan (233); P Ripley (228) got the better of wife K Ripley (216); and M Peloso (243 + Villanova) smacked around hubby B Peloso (240).

Among the deep annual grudges we indulge, K Ripley (216) declared her sole purpose was to beat her husband, brother, and dad, but as reported above she did none of those things. B Peloso (240) took bragging rights from K Sullivan (233). And Booth (193) didn't even make it a contest against C Whiteside (227).

Baumgarten (234 and 227), Templeton (220 and 186), and Biebel (256, 228, 226, and 218) all took turns beating themselves. We're not privy to the details of the relationship between Marshall (221) and Burch (221), but the two ended up in a tie.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tag, you're it

We've had a topsy-turvy tournament. A 16-seed beat a #1, the South Regional final was between a #9 and a #11, and brackets everywhere were busted in what seemed about 45 seconds. But what better indicator of these past few upside-down weeks than the fact that in our contest, lawyers (229.88) outscored humans (223.10)? Dogs (185.00) whimpered away with their tails between their legs, and the vision of members of the afterlife (180.00) is apparently more clouded than it looks on TV.

Of course, all is not utter chaos, as evidenced by the annual tradition of females (228.33) trouncing males (221.00) once again. In perhaps the closest competition of the year, children (223.57) squeaked by supposed adults (223.04). In a bigger rout than either of the above, the average pool participant (222.03) clobbered the average contest commissioner (208.00).

In what we guess is the main event, D'Zuro and Friends (242.25) won the Tag Team competition, beating out Ripley's Believe it or Nots (235.00) and Readers of DBR (233.40). Mired in the middle, Whiteside and his Enemies (222.25) were a little bit better than the Marshall Plan (217.00) and people past-and-presently associated with Urban Engineering (210.40). In a rite as old as the contest itself, the ubiquitous Leach Gang (208.11) hung out at the bottom, this year ahead only of the former residents of 12A (206.67).

If your name is Bob (246.50), you're pretty good at picking pools for the second straight year, and just a little bit better than David (240.00) and Kevin (237.00). Neil (230.50), Mike (222.67), names-beginning-with-"Lu" (222.50), and Rick (219.00) were about average, while if you answer to John/Jon (213.80) or George (208.00), you should probably lie on your name tag. If your name is Matt (201.50), you might want to consider witness protection.

Most of our favorite schools didn't make the tournament, but you can still hold your head high if you like Maryland (244.00), Temple (233.00), or GW (230.50). Penn State (220.25) and VCU (203.00), not so much. Only two teams that got more than a single vote made the tournament, and of those Duke (222.57) outshone Villanova (205.00), though perhaps not in the metric that counted.

Our top occupation, not surprisingly, was "retired" (241.40). Those who fiddle with computers (241.00) apparently crunch numbers better than accountants (234.29) or those in financial management (220.00), and may manipulate language better than attorneys (233.20), as well. What's up with engineers (210.33), we shudder to think. The state of education in this country can be neatly summed up by the fact that one of the teachers (234.67) in this contest spelled his occupation as "Teaher," but the educators still beat out those they "teah" (students: 224.00) fairly handily.

Regionally this year, the further west you go, the better off you are, as the Far West (248.00) beat out the Midwest (234.75), the Northeast (221.78), and the Southeast (202.83). Even locally, the western suburbs of Philadelphia (221.24) bested the city itself (219.00). On a state-by-state basis, Oregon (254.00) was tops, over California (245.00), New Jersey (243.25), Illinois (234.75), Tennessee (221.00), Pennsylvania (220.74), and Virginia (184.50).

Tomorrow, the Rivalry Report. Enjoy tonight's games.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Depending on who wins, here's who wins:


J Donadio: 302
K Biebel 4: 296
Selig: 289

Just out of the money: M Peloso: 283


Paston: 269
C Whiteside: 267
J Donadio: 262

Just out of the money: B Whiteside: 260

IF ANYBODY ELSE WINS (since none of our clever entrants had the foresight to take a chance on Michigan or Loyola):

J Donadio: 262
B Whiteside: 260
R Schlegel: 259

Just out of the money: K Biebel 4: 256

I haven't checked to make sure all of the above are paying entries. If they're not, you know the drill (an unparalleled mixture of glory and embarrassment).

We'll post Tag Teams and Rivals over the weekend.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Well, Final Four, that is. Two #1s have added a little normalcy to the proceedings. Or, we guess, what constitutes normalcy for this contest. Out of 61 contestants, a total of eleven (11) got two (2) of the Final Four correct (that's 18% getting half right, for those scoring at home): J Donadio, R Schlegel, DiCicco, M Peloso, Selig, M Wanger, Elle Leach, Steinhardt, B Whiteside, Biebel 4, Templeton 2. Sadly, that's more than compensated by the twelve (12) entrants that got none (none) of the Final Four correct: M McAtee, T Cristinzio, Pogach, Booth, Mad Leach, Templeton, Grossman, L Donadio, M Josephs, Serri, Leo Leach, R Simon.

The new leader is J Donadio, with 262 points, followed by B Whiteside (260), R Schlegel (259), and Biebel 4 (256). Over the week, we'll analyze that further, as well as posting the ever-popular Tag Team totals and Rivalry tallies.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Two teams hit the Final Four today, and only Steinhardt's score changed (she picked Michigan into the Final Four). We're not officially updating the standings until after tomorrow's games, but for now we can say Steinhardt has jumped into 7th place with 224 points. The other 60 people in the contest have the exact same score they did before the games took place.

D'Zuro's magical run on the back of Florida State came to end, but he's still one point out of first and is mathematically eliminated from winning the contest. For what it's worth, Steinhardt also can't win but, like D'Zuro she could come darn close.

Friday, March 23, 2018


The Elite Eight has been decided, including two #1s, a #2, two #3s, two #9s, and a #11. And of our 61 contestants, a grand total of two (2) got as many as half right (Fitch and Steinhardt each got 4 of the Elite Eight). It goes without saying that none of us got more than half right, but we'll go ahead and say it anyway. 34 of us got 3 of 8 right, 22 of us got 2 of 8 right, and three cunning entrants managed a mind-numbing one (1) correct Elite Eight team (Mash Leach, Howard, Booth).

Harlan (234 points) still clings to the tiniest of leads over hard-charging D'Zuro (233), whose wild card Florida State has been very, very good to him. Especially since nobody else's wild card is still playing. D Josephs (232) is also breathing hard down the leaders' necks. Thirteen other entrants are within a Final Four choice of the leader, with Blane (226), L Donadio (225), and E Leach (225) foremost among them.

Howard (161 points) has dropped into the bottom, comfortably behind Mash Leach (176), Sciarabba (177), and J Broder (178).

Full standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here.


Going into the Sweet 16, only 47.5% of our Final Four guesses had any shot to collect points:

Villanova: 38
Purdue: 24
Duke: 24
Kansas: 21
Gonzaga: 4 (J Broder, J McAtee, Reid, K Sullivan)
Texas Tech: 2 (Booth, Sam Leach)
West Virginia: 2 (Mad Leach, Rybaltowski)
Michigan: 1 (Steinhardt)

Now with Gonzaga gone, it's a little less.

At least the above had a chance. The following Final Four selections didn't make it out of the first weekend:

Virginia: 40
Michigan State: 39
Xavier: 14
North Carolina: 12
Wichita State: 7 (M Josephs, M Kleiman, M McAtee, M Pogach, L Schlegel, C Whiteside, J Whiteside)
Arizona: 6 (Booth, M Josephs, D Kedson, Mash Leach, Rybaltowski, Tester)
Auburn: 4 (Howard, B Peloso, Selig, Serri)
Cincinnati: 2 (Mash Leach, M Peloso)
Ohio State: 2 (Leo Leach, Sciarabba)
Rhode Island: 1 (Serri)
Tennessee: 1 (M Pogach)

Going into the Sweet 16, only one entrant (Biebel 4) had all four of his Final Four alive (Duke, Kansas, Purdue, Villanova). Unfortunately for Biebel 4, due to regional overloads that still only adds up to at most two correct Final Four choices. Out of our 61 contestants, just two managed to go into the Sweet 16 with a chance to have three correct Final Four choices (K Sullivan, J Broder), and both of those promptly lost that chance when Gonzaga went down last night.

Still, with this group there's something to be said for getting out of the first weekend relatively unscathed. And in addition to Biebel 4 there were 12 contestants who had more than half their Final Four alive: Mad Leach, K Sullivan, Paston, Reid, Templeton 2, Harlan, Rybaltowski, DiCicco, P Leach, B Whiteside, Biebel, J Broder. Though there's currently nobody in our contest who has a chance to actually get more than half right.

Naturally, there are more contestants who only had one (1) Final Four team alive than there were with more than half. And we will gladly name those 14 entrants who are currently sucking for oxygen: Sciarabba, Baumgarten 2, Baumgarten, Booth, K Ripley, Mash Leach, George B, M Kleiman, J Whiteside, Blane, Biebel 2, T Cristinzio, Serri, M McAtee.

We'll update the standings tonight, after all the Elite Eight has been decided.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Partial score

Hmmm. Four teams won tonight, and those four (4) teams combined to earn points for a grand total of five (5) contestants. It's not even worth updating the standings (so we won't, we'll wait until after tomorrow's games).

Nonetheless, congrats to Fitch, M Josephs, M McAtee, Steinhardt (who picked Michigan) and D'Zuro (Florida State as wild card).


Winners of tonight's games will officially be part of the 2018 Elite Eight. But they'll have only a 48% chance of increasing the scores of one or more of our contestants. Only 12 of the 16 participants have any Elite Eight votes at all:

Duke: 53
Villanova: 52
Purdue: 43
Kansas: 42
West Virginia: 15
Gonzaga: 14
Texas Tech: 6 (Booth, T Cristinzio, Leo Leach, Sam Leach, J McAtee, R Wanger)
Michigan: 4 (Fitch, M Josephs, M McAtee, Steinhardt)
Clemson: 2 (Leo Leach, R Simon)
Kentucky: 1 (D Kedson) (though 26 entrants have UK as their wild card)
Texas A&M: 1 (Rybaltowski)
Nevada: 1 (Paston)
Florida State: zero (though D'Zuro chose Fla St as his wild card)
Loyola-Chicago: zilch
Syracuse: zip
Kansas State: nada

For completeness' sake, here are the other 52% of our Elite Eight picks:

Virginia: 53
Michigan State: 52
North Carolina: 36
Xavier: 35
Wichita State: 15
Arizona: 15
Cincinnati: 13
Auburn: 12
Ohio State: 7 (Baumgarten, T Cristinzio, Howard, Leo Leach, Mad Leach, Sciarabba, R Simon)
Rhode Island: 7 (Gallagher, M Josephs, M McAtee, Serri, Templeton, Templeton 2, Tester)
Tennessee: 5 (M Kleiman, Pogach, Reid, Serri, Warner)
Missouri: 1 (Burch)
Seton Hall: 1 (Goren)
Florida: 1 (Sciarabba)
Virginia Tech: 1 (George B)

Only one entrant (D Kedson) has 6 teams alive for the Elite Eight (Villanova, West Virginia, Purdue, Kansas, Duke, Kentucky), but he can get at most 5 correct (since Villanova and West Virginia are vying for the same Elite Eight spot). Six other entrants have 5 alive plus a wild card (Blane, Paston, D'Zuro, Steinhardt, P Leach, D Josephs) and of those, Paston, Steinhardt, and D Josephs can get as many as 6 of the Elite Eight including their wild card (the other three can get as many as 5, including their wild cards). Another six entrants have 5 alive but their wild card is gone (Reid, Rybaltowski, K Sullivan, Tester, B Peloso, DiCicco), and of those only K Sullivan and DiCicco can get as many as 5 of the Elite Eight.

In other words, nine (9) of our contestants might get more than half the Elite Eight correct. The other 85.2% of us won't. Twenty of us (32.8%) can get at most three right, including Templeton, T Cristinzio, Howard, and George B, who only have two (2) of their Eight (8) alive.

We'll have some Final Four numbers tomorrow. Enjoy the games.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


In our 28 previous contests, our contestants' top vote-getter for champion has won a grand total of 6 times, for a success rate of 21.4%. Might as well say 6 of 29 (20.7%), because our favorite this year, Michigan State (17 votes) is no longer with us. Neither is our #2 choice, Virginia (12 votes). Bad as we've been historically, we're not sure our top two choices for champion have ever failed to make it out of the first weekend before. It's nice after all these years that our entrants can continue to set new standards of maladroitness.

So while the Sweet 16 is yet to begin, only 44% of us have a champion that's still playing. The most popular among remaining champions is Villanova (selected by 11: Baumgarten, Biebel 4, J Donadio, Fitch, Howard, Sam Leach, M Peloso, Reid, L Schlegel, Selig, Warner). Beyond that, no team has been championed by more than six entrants: Duke (6: Biebel 3, J Broder, D Kedson, Mad Leach, R Simon, Tester); Purdue (6: Burch, D'Zuro, Goren, P Leach, Marshall, Serri); Kansas (3: Mash Leach, M Paston, C Whiteside); and West Virginia (Rybaltowski). Nobody ventured a champion choice on any of the other 12 teams in the Sweet 16.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Well, the Sweet 16 is set. Two regions are bereft of both their #1 and #2. Worse than that, in an astonishing display of ineptitude, before a single Sweet 16 game has been played our contestants have LOST 52% of their Elite Eight picks, 53% of their Final Four selections, and 56% of their champions. Really.

All but two of our wild cards are gone, too, but one of those two is Kentucky, a team chosen by 43% of our entrants, meaning we've "only" lost 56% of our wild cards on top of everything else (the other productive wild card choice was Florida State, chosen by D'Zuro). And Friday's wild card controversy turned out to be much ado about very little, as both Rhode Island and Tennessee lost in the Round of 32.

Our current leader is Harlan, with 204 points. And while in a normal year the fact that Harlan chose a champion (Virginia) that was the first #1 seed ever to lose its first-round game might be considered an impediment to her chances to win the contest, in this case the fact that she (a) has Kentucky as her wild card; and (b) is competing against our contestants probably makes her the favorite. Reid and D Josephs barely trail Harlan, each with 202 points. Blane (196), L Donadio (195), Ed Leach (195), Baumgarten (194), and M Wanger (194) are all within an Elite Eight choice of the leader. Pogach (150), Howard (151), and M McAtee (155) linger at the bottom of the standings.

Tune in for more detailed analysis during the week.

Friday, March 16, 2018


It has been brought to our attention that our wild card post yesterday contained several errors.

First of all, we reported that "nobody picked an illegal wild card." This is blatantly untrue. Two people picked illegal wild cards.

Second, we praised Howard for his clever pick of Tennessee (#18 in the Top 25 linked to in the contest rules) as wild card when we should have vilified him instead, and possibly implied in him a lack of moral fiber, for his bald-faced attempt to skirt the rules of the contest.

Finally, we listed commissioner D Kedson's pick of Rhode Island (#16 in the Top 25 linked to in the contest rules) as a legitimate wild card when we should have pointed out he's been running this contest for 29 years (and also wrote, compiled, and posted the rules to this contest) and thus his pick suggests either a staggering lack of intelligence or the first signs of debilitating old age. At the very least, he should have known better.


Before the late games tonight, there'd been 135 #1 v. #16 matchups in the history of the NCAA Tournament. And the #16 had lost 135 times. Yeah, one game had gone to OT (Michigan State v. Murray State in 1990) and there'd been a couple one-point games and a few others within one possession, but the #1 had never actually gone so far as to lose an opening round game. Ever.

Can't say that any more.

It wasn't like Virginia got robbed by some crazy last-second shot, either. Before tonight's 20 point beatdown, Virginia hadn't trailed at any point in any game by more than 13 points. Which is small consolation to the 12 contestants that picked a team as champion that didn't make it to the first weekend (George B, Biebel, Blane, Harlan, D Josephs, M Kleiman, Elle Leach, P Ripley, K Sullivan, Templeton, M Wanger, R Wanger). Or the 40 who chose Virginia into the Final Four (top Final Four vote-getter). Or probably not the 53 (out of 61 total entrants) who penciled in the Wahoos into their Elite Eight, either (tied for tops in that category). Or anybody who filled out a tournament bracket, for that matter.

At least those who watched can say they witnessed history. Now, who has Maryland-Baltimore County winning their next game?

Marshall Law

So far, we've played 20 games and had 3 seed upsets (not counting #9 Alabama over #8 Virginia Tech). One of those upsets was marshaled by the Thundering Herd of Marshall, who beat Wichita State, coached by Greg Marshall. The U.S. Marshals were not amused.

Nor were the 15 contestants who chose Wichita State into the Elite Eight, nor the 7 contestants who took the Shockers into the Final Four (M Josephs, M Kleiman, M McAtee, M Pogach, L Schlegel, C Whiteside, J Whiteside). Similarly nonplussed after Buffalo's 21 point shellacking of Arizona were the 15 entrants who picked Arizona to make the Elite Eight and the 6 entrants who predicted Arizona would be playing in the final weekend (Booth, M Josephs, D Kedson, Mash Leach, Rybaltowski, Tester).

The third upset loser, Miami, only truly upset co-commissioner M Josephs who picked the Hurricanes as his wild card. But M Josephs must be really upset, because he not only lost his wild card but two of his Final Four in Wichita State and Arizona. That's a pretty nasty first day and a half.

Other wild card losers include moderately popular pick Virginia Tech (DiCicco, Goren, R Simon, Templeton 2) and North Carolina State (chosen by Pogach).

Another 12 games either underway or will be, later today. How many more poor pool choices will be revealed is anybody's guess.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


For the first time in the 29-year history of this contest, nobody picked an illegal wild card. We repeat, nobody picked an illegal wild card. Truth is, despite our annual rant against such behavior, we're a little bit disappointed.

Also disappointing were our contestants' selections. One might say "wild" would be a very poor descriptor of their behavior (and even if one might not, we would). Almost half the group (26) chose Kentucky, and no other wild card candidate got more than six votes. Of the 15 teams selected, all but three are seeded between 6th and 9th. And bandwagon choice Kentucky isn't that far out of that range as a #5.

The other two choices are almost opposite sides of the spectrum, even though both choices come from the same Volunteer State. On the good side, Howard lucked into taking a Tennessee team that got a #3 seed on Selection Sunday. On the not-so-good side, three entrants (Biebel 2, Burch, Marshall) picked a team (Middle Tennessee State) that wasn't exactly invited to the Dance.

Here's the full list of wild card selections:

Kentucky: 26
TCU: 6 (Biebel 3, Booth, J Broder, Leo Leach, Reid, B Whiteside)
Florida: 6 (Gallagher, Mash Leach, Rybaltowski, R Schlegel, Tester, Warner)
Virginia Tech: 4 (DiCicco, Goren, R Simon, Templeton 2)
Houston: 4 (Baumgarten 2, M Kleiman, B Peloso, K Sullivan)
Middle Tennessee: 3 (Biebel 2, Burch, Marshall)
Butler: 3 (George B, Fitch, Grossman)
Creighton: 2 (Mad Leach, J Whiteside)
Tennessee: 1 (Howard)
Rhode Island: 1 (D Kedson)
NC State: 1 (Pogach)
Missouri: 1 (Templeton)
Miami-Fla: 1 (M Josephs)
Florida State: 1 (D'Zuro)
Arkansas: 1 (Sciarabba)

The games start tomorrow. We hope you're all in front of a screen.

The above post contains several errors. These are corrected in a follow-up post on March 16th.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Field

The field is selected. The leader after selection of the field (and winner of the prize therefor, assuming he paid) is Reid, with 202 points. In second is Harlan, with 198, and in third is D Josephs, with 196. Blane and B Whiteside (both with 190) round out the top five.

Full standings may be viewed using the link on the right-hand side of the page, or here.

A fuller analysis will be posted sometime in the next few days.

Almost there

The last six conference championships are in the books and, not surprisingly, not many of us chose a lot of winners.

In the SEC, seven of us (Baumgarten, Fitch, M Josephs, D Kedson, Ed Leach, P Leach, Serri) correctly chose Kentucky to win it. Another seven of us got Georgia State in the Sun Belt (Fitch, Howard, Mash Leach, Samantha Leach, P Ripley, Serri, Templeton). When it came to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 and Cal-State-Fullerton in the Big West, only one contestant managed to guess either of those correctly (Gallagher got Fullerton and the astonishing Leo Leach went for Davidson).

For what it's worth, Leo Leach's achievement of picking four conference champs that practically nobody else thought worthy has catapulted him all the way up to a tie for 31st place. That's almost in the top half, folks.

A majority of us did manage to select the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy (49), and a plurality liked Cincinnati in the AAC (30). But overall, the majority only managed 14 out of 32 conference champions (a nifty 44%), while in 15 conferences the winner was picked by a dozen or fewer entrants.

Reid (97 points) is still clinging to first place, by a single point over Harlan (96 points), though Harlan is our only contestant to guess as many as 18 conference champions correctly (a scintillating 56%). Another four entrants got more than half right (17 conference champions: Reid, D Josephs, Blane, B Whiteside). Five more got exactly half right (Baumgarten, R Schlegel, M Wanger, Selig, K Sullivan). And the rest of us kind of stink at this.

They're announcing the at-large selections right now. We'll have another update later tonight.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Marshall Plan

Marshall (picked only by L Schlegel) won the Conference USA championship on Saturday by 1 point over Western Kentucky (picked by 6: Gallagher; M Josephs; Mash Leach; P Ripley; Serri; Templeton).

That's one of 26 conference championships awarded so far this season, and a majority of our contestants picked the winner in exactly half of them:

Bucknell (57); Loyola-Chicago (56); New Mexico State (54); Gonzaga (46); South Dakota State (46); Villanova (45); Buffalo (43); Montana (42); Arizona (41); Kansas (39); College of Charleston (38); Virginia (34); and UNC-Greensboro (33).

Two other conference champions were picked by a plurality of us: Murray State (30); and Stephen F. Austin (28).

The other eleven apparently required a ouija board: Wright State (12); Lipscomb (11); Texas Southern (11); Radford (7: Biebel 2, Biebel 3, Blane, Leo Leach, Mash Leach, Templeton, M Wanger); Iona (7: George B, Baumgarten, D'Zuro, D Kedson, Mash Leach, K Sullivan; Michigan (2: Leo Leach, Steinhardt); Marshall (L Schlegel only); Maryland-Baltimore-County (L Leach only -- yes, another Leo Leach special); Long Island U (zero); San Diego State (none); and North Carolina Central U (the big oh).

The amazing Leo Leach got three of the ouija conferences correct. A Kreskinian feat, or it would be if he'd gotten more than six other conferences right. He currently sits tied for 45th place.

In 1st place is Reid, with 16 correct conference champions and 86 points. Breathing down Reid's neck is Harlan (16 ccc and 83 points) and D Josephs (15 ccc and 81 points). Tied for 4th are Blane, R Schlegel, M Wanger, and B Whiteside, all with 15 correct conference champions and 78 points. In dead last is Fitch with 6 ccc and 45 points, barely preceded by Templeton (8; 46). Full standings may be found at the link on the right-hand side of the page, or here.

The last six conferences coming soon:

Big West (started at midnight): UC-Irvine (24) vs. Cal-St-Fullerton (1: Gallagher);
AAC: Cincinnati (30) vs. Houston (1: Steinhardt);
Atlantic 10: Rhode Island (52) vs. Davidson (1: Leo Leach AGAIN!);
Ivy: Penn (49) vs. Harvard (12);
SEC: Tennessee (22) vs. Kentucky (7: Baumgarten, Fitch, M Josephs, D Kedson, Ed Leach, P Leach, Serri);
Sun Belt: Georgia State (7: Fitch, Howard, Mash Leach, Samantha Leach, P Ripley, Serri, Templeton) vs. Texas-Arlington (3: Goren, M Josephs, Leo Leach (OMG!));

Then of course, after the above six championships are complete, the selection of the field. We'll try to post both before and after that momentous event.

See you then...

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Don't pass the Bucknell

In the Patriot League championship, Bucknell (picked by 57) beat the cavity kids from Colgate (cared about by 2: Leo Leach, Tester), foiling a Leo Leach special. Also, it has come to our attention that we somehow missed the Southern League championship a couple days ago, in which UNC-Greensboro (liked by 33) beat East Tennessee State (taken by 19). The leaderboard remains pretty much the same.

The only non-championship games of note tonight (so far, 10:33pm EST) were in the ACC: bubble-team Louisville almost blew a huge lead but managed to hang on against Florida State; probable-but-not-definite NC State got down big early but couldn't quite get there against BC; and last-x-out Notre Dame managed a huuuuuge comeback against probable-but-not-definite Virginia Tech. Also one in the PAC 12 -- Colorado beat bubbly Arizona State.

Plenty of games going on but no conference championships on Thursday or Friday. Have a field day.

The Wright Stuff

Well, Cleveland State's improbable run through the Horizon tournament has come to an end, with the 11-23 Vikings finally falling, to Wright State (taken by 12 intrepid entrants). In other conference championship action, College of Charleston (chosen by 38) topped Northeastern (picked by 19) in the Colonial; Gonzaga (selected by 46) pounded BYU (liked by no one) in the WCC; South Dakota State (also 46) outlasted South Dakota (14) in the big battle of the Badlands (i.e., the Summit League championship), giving them bragging rights in the Walleye State; and Wagner (favored by 50) fell to Long Island U (a zero hero).

Which overall is good news for our contestants, as three of the five conferences listed above were won by teams chosen by a majority of us. Bringing the total of majority-selected conference champions up to four. Out of eleven. So maybe more "less embarrassing" than "good."

First place, with 38 points and an astonishing (for us, at least) 7 of 11 champions chosen, is shared by Blane and Ed Leach. Another eight contestants so far have more than half the conferences correct (George B, Booth, D Josephs, P Leach, M Paston, B Peloso, Reid, Selig) and are tied for 3rd with 33 points. The other 51 of us are not doing so hot.

The only game tonight with serious contest ramifications is the Patriot League championship, which pits favorite Bucknell (57 votes) vs. undertoothpaste Colgate (2: Leo Leach, Tester). Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


We've been playing this contest for 29 years, and after watching 2018 conference tournaments for almost a week, at least one thing is clear: our entrants haven't gotten any better at it.

Six conference tournaments are complete, six automatic bids have been handed out. Our contestants had a majority consensus in five of the six. Guess how many we got right? If you guessed zero, sorry you're wrong. But if you guessed one, you'd be right on the money.

56 of us (91.8%) chose Loyola-Chicago to win the MVC, and the mob got it right. But that's as far as the good news goes. Only 11 of us (18%) liked Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun, just 7 of us reached for Radford in the Big South (11.5%; Biebel 2, Biebel 3, Blane, Leo Leach, Mash Leach, Templeton, M Wanger), another 7 of us eyed Iona in the MAAC (11.5%; George B, Baumgarten, D'Zuro, D Kedson, Mash Leach, K Sullivan); and a measly two mulled for Michigan in the Big 10 (3.3%; Leo Leach, Steinhardt). In the OVC, we didn't have a majority consensus, but our top pick Murray State (30 votes (49.2%)) did happen to win, beating Belmont (chosen by 26).

It won't get any better after the Horizon League finishes its tournament, since our favorite, Northern Kentucky (taken by 43 (70.5%)), has already lost to Cleveland State (selected by exactly nobody). The 8-seeded Vikings face Wright State (picked by 12 (19.7%)) tonight for all the Horizon marbles.

Four other conferences finish this evening, and with a Nor'easter bearing down on us as we speak, two of them appropriately have a "Nor'east" theme: In the Colonial League, the College of Charleston (38; 62.3%) faces Northeastern (19; 31.1%); and in the Northeast conference, famed composer Wagner (50; 82.0%) will attempt to play Long Island U (0; 0%). The other two are in the WCC, which pits Gonzaga (46; 75.4%) vs. BYU (0; 0%), and in the much anticipated battle of the Mount Rushmore State, also known as the Summit League championship, in which South Dakota State (46; 75.4%) plays South Dakota (14; 23.0%) for Badlands bragging rights. That last game will be held in Sioux Falls, nearly equidistant between the teams' home campuses. Also, the state fish of South Dakota is the Walleye.

If you happened to be impressed by Leo Leach accurately choosing both Radford and Michigan, our advice is don't be. Those two teams were two of ten Leo Leach prognostications with which almost nobody agreed: Florida in the SEC (7); Texas Tech in the Big 12 (5); Jacksonville State in the OVC (4); Texas-Arlington in the Sun Belt (3); Colgate in the Patriot League (2); Creighton in the Big East (only); Davidson in the Southern Conference (only); and Maryland-Baltimore County in the America East Conference (only). All right, if he wins some of those you can be impressed. But for now, at least, his pair of astute predictions has propelled Leo Leach all the way up into 13th place.

Leo's warped sibling Mash Leach also has ten lonely predictions (Radford in the Big South (7); Iona in the MAAC (7)), Florida in the SEC (7); Georgia State in the Sun Belt (7); Mount St. Mary's in the Northeast (7); Furman in the Southern Conference (7); Western Kentucky in Conference USA (6); Texas Tech in the Big 12 (5); Southern Illinois in the MVC (3); and Seattle in the WAC (1)), and we're trying to figure which set of bold Leach picks we like better. On the one hand, most of Mash's mashups have at least some group corroboration (six groups of 7 plus a 6 and only one only; compared to just one group of more than 5 and three out-on-an-islands for Leo) and so far at least, Mash has fared better, winning four of the six conferences to sit in first place with 23 points. On the other hand, two of Mash's clever choices have already lost (Mt. St. Mary's and Southern Illinois) while Leo has yet to stumble. Overall, we think the strategy will work best for neither of them.

Other than Mash Leach's first place performance, nobody currently has more than half right, but twelve players got exactly half, and all have 18 points (except for Leo Leach, who has 15): GEORGE B, Baumgarten, Biebel 2, Biebel 3, Blane, Booth, D'Zuro, Ed Leach, Reid, M Wanger, and J Whiteside.

Full standings may be found here, or from the standings link on the right-hand side of the page.