Monday, March 31, 2008

And the winner might be...

There are nine non-paying entrants this year, meaning the prizes are as follows: 100 to the leader after the bracket was set (D Josephs); 237 to the first place finisher; 118.50 to the second place finisher; and 39.50 to the third-place finisher.

Depending on who wins the National Championship, here are our prizewinners:

1st place: Whiteside
2nd place: Harlan
3rd place: Brenner

1st place: Millan
2nd place: K Sullivan
3rd place: Smith

1st place: Haklar
2nd place: B Kleiman
3rd place tie: Brenner and E Leach

1st place: P Leach
2nd place: Karlsruher
3rd place: Millan

To nobody's surprise, M Leach has clinched last place. Savvy S Leach, however, can climb all the way up to 63rd place if Memphis wins (otherwise she'll be second-to-last).

Four Number Ones

It has never happened before. Four number one seeds all reaching the Final Four in the same season. But what has happened plenty of times is our contestants not taking advantage of things like this. Only seven entrants got all four teams right (Whiteside, Kasprzak, Millan, McAtee-Gattone, Dallas, Packman, Cooper). Packman and Cooper managed to get all four Final Four teams after only getting four Final Eight teams.

Twenty-four entrants got three Final Four teams and 28 got just two. To balance out the seven who got 'em all, seven entrants correctly guessed only one: Weatherell, R Schlegel, Perry, Rybaltowski, N Donadio, and of course the Queens of Comedy, M Leach and S Leach.

Twelve entrants properly picked six of the Elite Eight (Marshall, Kasprzak, P Leach, D Josephs, McKillip, Smith, Haklar, K Ripley, Nowlan, Whiteside, Acchione, B Kleiman). Four of these also had a Wildcard in the Eight (Marshall, P Leach, and S Smith all had Louisville, while B Kleiman had Davidson), in effect giving them 7 of the Final 8. We understand there's no truth to the rumor that the closing minutes of the Kansas/Davidson game put B Kleiman into traction.

In a startling feat of legerdemain, Marshall, P Leach, and Smith all had seven teams in the Final Eight (including their Wildcard) but got only two (2) of the Final Four. There were four number one seeds, a number two, and two number three's in the Final Eight, but 28 contestants came up with just five of the Eight teams, 18 stumbled in with four of the Eight, and six entrants somehow managed to get only three (Perry, N Donadio, Shure, ME Donadio, M Peloso, and commissioner D Kedson). Perry and Shure stand out by also failing to choose a successful Wildcard (the other four all had Louisville).

Sisters-in-shame M Leach and S Leach have once again earned their own paragraph by both picking only two of the Final Eight. M Leach wins the prize by virtue of her choice of first-round loser Gonzaga as her Wildcard (at least S Leach had Louisville).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Halfway there

Everybody's favorite Wildcard, Louisville, went down to defeat to a bunch of Heels, and UCLA beat upstart Xavier. P Leach (323 points) maintained his lead over Marshall (318) and Coach Doc (315).

One more day and the Final Four is set.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Davidson and Goliaths

Congratulations to B Kleiman and J McAtee, who were the only contestants foresighted enough to pick Davidson as their Wildcard. Or, more likely, they were trying to pick their SEC champion on the line right above Davidson and they screwed up... Congratulations are also in order for the many boring frontrunners who displayed the imagination of stale popcorn by choosing nothing but favorites, because besides those pesky Southern Conference champions, all the heavyweights won tonight.

The standings are sort of like bookends, with Leaches on both sides. P Leach (283 points) has opened up a 5 point lead on Marshall (278), and even more over Haklar (276), Coach Doc (275), Karlsruher (275), Millan (274), and S Smith (273). The bottom mortal is Packman (194), who's in third-to-last place but is 18 and 22 points ahead of the unholy duo of S Leach (176) and M Leach (172).

The top scoring participant who took each Final Eight team:

UNC -- P Leach
UCLA -- Marshall
Memphis -- Millan
Texas -- Pangolin Palace
Kansas -- Fitzmyer
Louisville -- P Leach (wildcard)
Davidson -- B Kleiman (wildcard)
Xavier -- nooooooooobody

Tomorrow, the first two Final Four tickets are printed. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Well, the first four of the Elite Eight are in, and the only surprise so far is Xavier. Nineteen entrants chose Xavier in the Final Eight, and only three (Jr Donadio, J McAtee, Perry) have the X-men into the Final Four. Nobody picked Xavier as champion.

UCLA was picked by 56 into the Final Eight, 45 into the Final Four, and 17 as champion. UNC was chosen by 62 into the Eight, 53 into the Four, and 18 as champ. Louisville was only picked by 10 into the Elite Eight and five into the Final Four, but 39 contestants had the Cardinals as their Wildcard, making the totals 49, 44, and 39.

The biggest loser (of the evening) was Tennessee, selected by 57 of us into the Final Eight and 28 of us into the Final Four. Only five entrants liked the Volunteers as national champions, including leader Coach Doc (255 points). The other four are Jr Donadio, Butscher, Perry, and of course M Leach. Salivating behind the fallen leader are P Leach (253 points) and Marshall (two entries, 250 and 248 points).

All this is somewhat meaningless, however, until tomorrow's four games are in. See you then.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Sweet Sixteen, that is. All set. Some close shaves for UCLA, Memphis, Tennessee, and Texas, but today the only pool scrambler was Georgetown going down to Davidson, sending 32 Final Eights and 8 Final Fours into disarray. Nobody had the Hoyas winning it all, however, so the loss shouldn't be causing anybody to start perusing spring training box scores or anything.

With some more Wildcard points for Louisville, Davidson, Villanova, and West Virginia, we have new leaders. Coach Doc and Karlsruher have surged to the top, each with 205 points, followed by Millan (204), P Leach (203), Butscher (202), D Josephs (201), and Marshall (200).

And the next round's only four days away.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Raise your hand if you picked Duke

Nah, don't bother. We're going to out you right now. Three contestants have lost their champion on the first Saturday, and they would be Crowther, M Peloso, and R Simon. Sixteen people had Duke in their Final Four and 41 erroneously placed them into the Final Eight.

Other Final Four and/or Final Eight choices that were eliminated today were Kansas State (4 in F8 and D Kedson in F4); Pitt (2 in F8 and M Siegel in F4); Marquette (2 in F8 and Rybaltowski in F4); and Notre Dame (4 in F8). Commissioner D Kedson has the ignominious distinction of having lost two of his Final Four (Duke, Kansas State) and four of his Final Eight (Pitt, Duke, UConn, Kansas State) midway through the second round. At least we know he's not cheating.

We'll update the standings after the games tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh, to be in Tampa

Four upsets in the Tampa pod. So we know for a fact that two in the Sweet Sixteen will be a 12 seed or lower. Did any of us have any of them as our Wildcard? Yes, as a matter of fact. Dallas took Villanova.

Other Wildcards that paid off were West Virginia (Kasprzak), Mississippi State (B Peloso), and Davidson (B Kleiman, J McAtee). Oh, and Louisville, chosen as Wildcard by 39 of us. Including 19 of the top 20 scorers -- all except leader D Josephs -- so the standings just got a teensy bit tighter.

Outside of Tampa there were only two upsets (not counting two 9s over 8s), but they were both in the Midwest Regional, meaning in the Midwest the 4, 5, 6, and 7 seeds all lost. But since every 1, 2, & 3 seed won their first round games, all but three contestants still have their Final Four intact. The lucky three are M Leach (Vanderbilt), R Schlegel (Clemson), and Mahalko (Indiana).

Eight teams picked by someone to make the Final Eight are no longer playing: UConn (11), Indiana (10), Vanderbilt (5 -- Haklar, M Leach, Marshall, Nowlan, L Schlegel), Florida (2 -- J McAtee, Shure), Drake (2 -- M Josephs, Packman), Gonzaga (E Leach), St. Mary's (Booth), and Kent State (Booth).

Booth's efforts to broadside Whiteside took a hit when she lost two of her Final Eight (St. Mary's and Kent St.), but eight other entrants have joined her in having two of their Final Eight eliminated before the first Saturday: M Josephs had Indiana and Drake; J McAtee and Shure both had Florida and UConn; and Perry, Reilly, Selarnick, and Settle all had Indiana and UConn. This year's winner for quickest route to obscurity was Packman, who believed Drake, Indiana, and UConn would be three of the last eight teams standing. No wonder they haven't sold that game since the '70s.

Raise your hand if you picked Belmont

Wow, we almost had one cranky commissioner on our hands...

Nobody of consequence (at least for pool purposes) lost yesterday. Although Booth lost one of her two singular Final Eight picks in Kent State (the other is St. Mary's, who plays today).

We'll update the standings after today's games to reflect wild card points.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tag Team Tussles

This year's Tag Team competition is shaping up nicely. The D'Zurans (avg score 190) and the Friends of Natalini (188) are leading the pack, followed by the Ripley-Believe-it-or-Nots (181.67) and the Whiteside Group (180.33, although it should be noted that the majority of this group are actually Whiteside detractors). Further down the slippery slope, the Donadios (177.6) are battling members of the Marshall Plan (173.75). As always, the Leach Gang (166.5) is at or near the bottom, but this year they have competition from the Mc's (164.67). We're sad to report that nobody from the famed and fabled Arnie's Army of Bridge Players chose to play in this year's contest.

Next year we think we'll add a "School Affiliation" box to the entry form. This year, affilations were volunteered for only two schools, and at least one commissioner is ecstatic to report that Duke (183.25) leads Villanova (179.67). Only two employer affiliations were reported by more than one entrant, and in this case it's Conrail (180.5) in a romp over Urban Engineering (159.2).

Males (178.5) lead females (173.3). However, Female Team lawyers have petitioned to remove M Leach and S Leach on the basis that they're obviously under the control of their domineering male father. If the women win their appeal, they'll be ahead of the men, 179.18 to 178.5. In the Battle of the Species, it's the same old scene, as Spiny Anteaters (190) lead felines (183.0) who in turn lead humans (177.25). As always, lawyers (176.8) are at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder.

Despite the emergence of St. Mary's and Mount St. Mary's, and the near miss of William and Mary, in our Name Game it's not Mary-land. The name Mary (163.5) is dead last among qualifying names, just behind Al/Alex (167.5) and Matt (170.0). So far, the name to have is David (194.0), or possibly Ed (185.5), John/Jon (185.2), Brett/Bret (182.8), or Bob (181.5). Names that end in the "k" sound are mired in the middle, namely Luke (including Lucia) (176.5), Rick (172.0), and Nick (170.0). If you're willing to accept a mixture of first and last names, the Adams family (185.3) is doing pretty well.

Our regional competition is as close as it's ever been. With just a few superdelegates left to commit, Pennsylvania (178.6) leads New Jersey (178.5) by a mere tenth of a point. Virginia (177.0), Florida (174.0), and New York (172.0) are still in the conversation. We apparently get smarter as we drive west on the Pennsylvania turnpike, however, as Western PA (185.0) leads the Philadelphia Suburbs (177.75) while urban Philadelphia (171.2) trails distantly.

Occupationally, IT professionals (186.5) know how to manipulate the data, at least better than practicing attorneys (179.0), engineers (172.8), and accountants (170.5). And confirming what any kid could tell you, students (183.4) know more than teachers (176.5).

Stay tuned. We'll update the competition report before the Final Four.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rivals redux

We've never met him, but Whiteside must be quite a guy. What else could motivate not only sister-in-law Booth but also co-worker McKillip to confess their dearest goal in life is to whup Whiteside's backside in this year's contest? Well, so far so good for McKillip who holds a small lead on Whiteside, 184 to 181. Alas for Booth, she trails her nemesis by five, 181 to 176.

Karlsruher has proclaimed that Millan will never beat him again, and so far his words have held up by the slimmest of margins, 199 to 198. K Sullivan has announced that B Peloso is going down hard, and she's backing that up with a margin that "slim" simply can't be used to describe, 190 to 173. B Peloso is also beneath his wife, 2007 champion M Peloso, 182 to 173, while K Sullivan has played her happy husband, D'Zuro, to a tie, 190 to 190.

Last year in our contest, children pretty much spanked their parents. But this year the parents seem to have made judicious use of the timeout. Coach Doc is trouncing S Adams, 199 to 182; R Schlegel is up on L Schlegel, 183 to 177; M Kleiman is ahead of B Kleiman, 189 to 182; D Josephs is unabashedly pummeling commissioner M Josephs, 201 to 177; J Donadio, Sr. (192) has a comfortable lead on all of his offspring (Jr Donadio (183), L Donadio (173), and N Donadio (168)), as well as his spouse (ME Donadio (172)); and they haven't yet invented a word to describe how far P Leach (197) is ahead of daughters M Leach (152) and S Leach (130). (Although it should be noted that P Leach has also put his own old man in his place, as Leach Gang patriarch E Leach (187) trails him by 10.)

As with all trends, there are a couple exceptions. McAtee-Gattone (playing in our contest for the first time) is absolutely crushing her dad, Joe Mc (playing in our contest for the 19th time), 181 to 158. K Ripley has flummoxed her father, R Wanger for three consecutive years, and she seems to be headed there again, leading him 186 to 182. She's also besting her husband, P Ripley, for the second time in their two-year marriage, 186 to 177.

Brenner (187 to 179) and Marshall (194 to 192) are both beating themselves. But we refuse to talk about it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


There's not much we can add to this article, except to say if you're interested there may still be time to make an appointment...

A little too wild

Every year a few of our contestants get a little too wild when picking their Wild Cards, and 2008 is no exception. So we'd like to honor the four individuals who chose Wild Card teams who will only see first round action on TV: McKillip, who chose Alabama State; Siegel, who selected Syracuse; McAtee-Gattone, who rode Rider; and R Simon, who feared the Turtle (Maryland) maybe a bit too much.

Don't you just love the wild life?

San Antonio bound?

The commissioners are proud to report that someone has revived one of our favorite tricks, the arcane "Wamser Maneuver," where an entrant picks a team in his Final Four that he does not include in his Final Eight. This year R Schlegel decided that Clemson might be Final Four worthy, but they're not good enough for his Elite Eight. R Schlegel, we salute you.

The Final Four breaksdown by team is:

North Carolina -- 53
UCLA -- 45
Memphis -- 38
Tennessee -- 28
Kansas -- 27
Texas -- 23
Duke -- 16
Georgetown -- 8
Stanford -- 7
Louisville -- 5
Xavier -- 3
Wisconsin -- 2
Washington St. -- 2
Indiana -- 1
Kansas St. -- 1
Michigan St. -- 1
Clemson -- 1
Vanderbilt -- 1
Pittsburgh -- 1
Marquette -- 1

For a full breakdown of EVERYBODY's Final Four choices, try this link.


In perhaps a pool first, our entrants' picks for the Final Eight agree with the Committee, as our eight most popular choices are all #1 or #2 seeds, and our next three most popular choices are all #3 seeds. We're not sure whether it says something about our contestants or the Committee, but it is rather astonishing.

Of course, a few entrants differed with the powers that be. McAtee and Shure, for example, both expected Florida to advance to the Final Eight while the Committee thought a more appropriate venue would be in the NIT.

A few other contestants branched out on their own, as well. Chief among them, of course, is M Leach, who chose four teams in her Final Eight chosen by five or fewer fellows: Michigan State (chosen by 6 including M Leach), Vanderbilt (5), Notre Dame (4), and Washington State (3). Perry is perhaps even further out on the edge, picking Xavier (19), Connecticut (11), Indiana (10), Notre Dame (4), and Washington State (3). ME Donadio liked Xavier (19), Indiana (10), Notre Dame (4), and Purdue (4), and commissioner D Kedson rolled the dice with Connecticut (11), Kansas State (4), and Pittsburgh (2). Booth's fortunes against Whiteside could very well hinge on her Final Eight picks of Kent State (only), St. Mary's (only), and Wisconsin (12).

For a full breakdown of EVERYBODY's Final Eight choices, try this link.

The Final 8 breakdown by team is as follows:

North Carolina -- 62
Memphis -- 59
Tennessee -- 57
UCLA -- 56
Texas -- 51
Kansas -- 49
Duke -- 41
Georgetown -- 32
Stanford -- 21
Xavier -- 19
Wisconsin -- 12
Connecticut -- 11
Indiana -- 10
Louisville -- 10
Michigan St. -- 6
Vanderbilt -- 5
Notre Dame -- 4
Kansas St. -- 4
Purdue -- 4
Washington St. -- 3
Pittsburgh -- 2
Florida -- 2
Drake -- 2
Marquette -- 2
Butler -- 1
Kent St. -- 1
Gonzaga -- 1
St. Mary's -- 1

Monday, March 17, 2008

Living At-Large

Fifteen teams were unanimous picks this year (Stanford, Indiana, Xavier, UNC, Gonzaga, Duke, Purdue, UConn, Cornell, Tennessee, UCLA, Memphis, Butler, Michigan State, and Wisconsin), and twenty other teams were picked by 60 or more.

Only five of us visualized the Committee's love for Oregon (George B, Brenner, Harlan, Fitzmyer, M Leach), and just 25 and 20 of us realized Kentucky's and Villanova's respective potential. Yet 61 of us foolishly and falsly figured on Florida making the field, and 53 of us mugged for Maryland.

Clever strategists abounded, with several people picking upsets in the conference championships while picking the conference favorites at-large. Like Selarnick who committed at-large spots to Austin Peay, Belmont, Drake, Morgan State, New Mexico, Rider, and Robert Morris at the expense of Kansas, Georgetown, Louisville, Clemson, BYU, and Mississippi State. (Although at least Selarnick struck gold with Villanova and South Alabama.) Cagey contestant Siegel focused so much on pulling a second-tier bubble team out of his hat (Dayton, Houston, NC State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, Rider) that he had no magic left for Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, or Washington State. Veteran entrant Acchione went with Cal, Houston, Air Force, and San Diego State, while ignoring Drake, UNLV, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. To his credit, Acchione's unorthodox selections of Kentucky, Villanova, and San Diego panned out.

This year's king of non-conformity was Wetherell, who boldly chose as at-large teams Akron, Creighton, Houston, Illinois State, IUPUI, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, UNC-Greensboro, Utah State, and Wright State, while eschewing ho-hum favorites like Pitt, Marquette, Clemson, Arizona, Southern Cal, Baylor, UNLV, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and West Virginia.

Tomorrow we'll focus on Final Four and Final Eight picks, and later in the week we'll take a look at the annual Tag Team competition and grudge matches. Study those brackets!

Zero Heroes

We all got the Ivy champion correct, as Cornell had pretty much clinched by the time the pool was due. So taking that out, there were 30 conferences whose champions we attempted to predict. In 20% of those conferences (that would be 6, to the math-challenged) our entire contestant base combined for a total of zero (0) correct guesses. That's right, not a single one of us was able to foresee the last team standing in any of the SEC, Atlantic 10, MEAC, Southland, WCC, and/or NEC. A new pool record; a monument to incompetence heretofore unseen by the eyes of the world. And believe me, we haven't exactly set high standards in this area in the past.

Another 10% of the league champions (3 to the you-know-what-challenged) were guessed by fewer than 10 entrants: Pitt in the Big East (just Karlsruher and Siegel), Mississippi Valley State (only N Donadio and McAtee-Gattone) and George Mason in the Colonial (Jon B, Brenner I & II, Dallas, P Leach, McAtee-Gattone, M Peloso, Selarnick).

Another seven leagues (Patriot (31), Big 10 (29), MAAC (28), Big West (26), WAC (26), Mountain West (25), and Sun Belt (20)) had their champions chosen by fewer than half of us. Which means the majority of us were correct in just 14 of 30 conferences (46.7%).

The best individual performance was turned in by D Josephs, who correctly selected 20 of 30 conference tournament champions (66.7%), followed by Coach Doc and Karlsruher (each with 19 of 30, 63.3%). Solid D's, all. P Leach and Marshall, each with 18 (60%) were the only other entrants that would have scraped by with a passing grade in my son's first grade class. All together, only 26 out of the 66 contestants (39.4%) accurately selected better than half of the non-Cornell champions.

On the other end of the spectrum (although, granted, one could argue this particular spectrum only has one side), 12 of us correctly stumbled upon the winner in only 40% or fewer of the league tournaments: Sakowski, R Simon, B Peloso, Selarnick, Cooper, Dallas, and 2006 contest winner L Donadio picked 12 of 30. N Donadio ended up with 11 of 30, Packman managed 10 of 30, and George B got 9 of 30.

But in fairness, the above achievements cannot be mentioned in the same breath as the infamous Leach Sisters -- M Leach came out ahead on 6 of 30 (20%)conference tourney winners, and S Leach was correct on only four, yes 4. Or if you'd prefer, 13.3% accuracy. (Although, really, who would prefer that?) Yet perhaps the most amazing thing is S Leach is not the worst ever performance in the pool; her 130 points have already passed the futility record of 102 points by Carson in 1998.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Bracket is set...

...and the winner of the prize for highest score after selection of the field is D Josephs, with 201 points. Coach Doc and Karlsruher are tied for second, with 199 points, followed by Millan with 198. Again, full standings may be found via the link that says "Standings" on the right side of the page.

We'll have comments and a lot more, either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

Ten minutes 'till

The selection special is in ten minutes, and the conference championships are done. BEFORE selection of the field, D Josephs (108 points) has opened up a four point lead over P Leach (104). Coach Doc and Karlsruher lurk behind with 103. Full standings are, as ever, available from that link over on the right side of the page.

We'll have a full wrapup on our conference champion choosing skills, probably tomorrow. Now on to the brackets.

Three random questions

(1) If you watched the Temple/St. Joe's game yesterday, aren't you already tired of Christmas puns?

(2) The McDonald's new McSkillet breakfast burrito apparently has "authentic salsa roja." Does that mean it really is naturally red?

(3) Will somebody please teach Dick Vitale that the word is not pronounced "ath-uh-letic"?


Sure, the St. Joseph's team will be glued to tube tonight watching the selection special, possibly with an ESPN camera crew filming their every groan and cheer. But if you want drama, spend some time with in-laws Booth and Whiteside.

For the past six years, Booth has been trying to beat Whiteside (her brother-in-law) in our contest, without success but with increasing desperation. Here's the situation, in Booth's own words and exclamation points:

Curt "Shabba" Whiteside had to submit his pool early due to a trip out of town. I NEED to use this to my advantage !! If you only get one shot...this is it for me !! THIS is my American Idol !!! He is my sister's husband, but if he beats me again and rubs it in my face by singing "I'm Shabbalicious" (yes he has done that) I don't know what I will do !! This year I'm gonna drink his milkshake !!

Shabba? What's that about? At the moment, Booth leads Whiteside, 79 points to 76. We'll be covering this one through the first weekend in April...

Also, word on the street is high-powered doctor K Sullivan (currently with 81 points in the standings) has been taking time that could have spent winning a Nobel prize and using it to taunt B Peloso (69).

We'll have a full "rivals" post after selection of the field.

Early update

Cal State Fullerton and Boise State won late last night, and the standings are getting tight. Currently D Josephs is on top, with 93 points, followed by P Leach (91), Karlsruher (90), Butscher (89), Coach Doc (88), and McAtee-Gattone (87), who is still tied with the combined scores of M Leach (47) and S Leach (40).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Note to Self....

Don't ever post your picks and tell the radio world what they are. I decided to enlighten the good people of Richmond with my picks and i think i've done the worst i've ever done in the pre-tournament part of this wonderful contest.


Wake up and smell the bubble

Only seven conference championships left to be decided, and two of them will happen tonight (although at least one commissioner hopes to be sleeping at the time) -- the WAC championship just went into triple OT, and the Big West is still in the first half. P Leach is now alone at the top, with 86 points, followed by Karlsruher (85), D Josephs (83), and McAtee-Gattone (82). If you add S Leach and M Leach together, they're tied for fourth with McAtee-Gattone.

Big favorites Memphis (picked by 64), Kent State (60), UMBC (58), and UCLA (50) won today. But Temple and Coppin State have joined San Diego and Mt. St. Mary's as teams chosen by a grand total of zero (0) of us. Pitt (Karlsruher, Siegel) and Mississippi Valley State (N Donadio, McAtee-Gattone) were selected by only two of us. And there's more goose-eggs on the way. As we said before, tomorrow's Southland final pits two teams (Northwestern State and Texas Arlington) that nobody in the pool thought would win, and the SEC matches Arkansas (picked by D Kedson) and Georgia (picked by nobody). Other finals with a zero team are the Big West (Cal-St-Fullerton (26) vs. UC-Irvine (0)), and the Big Ten (Wisconsin (29) vs. Illinois (0)). The ACC pairs North Carolina (45) and Clemson (only M Leach). The two remaining conferences are the WAC (Boise State (26) vs. New Mexico State (24)) and the Big 12 (Kansas (39) vs. Texas (24)).

When we wake up, it'll be Selection Sunday. Enjoy!

Minority opinion

There's a lot going on right now, but I'll wait to post about today's championships until later when we have more news. For now let's catch up on some stuff that happened late last night and a little bit from earlier today.

For the first time possibly ever, the two finalists of one league (the Southland) were picked by a combined total of zero (0) entrants. That's right, although 50 contestants stuck with Stephen F. Austin, and 16 liked Lamar, nobody took a flier on either Northwestern State or Texas Arlington.

That's the headliner of the nine conferences (out of 31) where a majority of us didn't choose either league finalist. The others: Atlantic 10 (Temple 0, St. Joseph's 6); Colonial (Willam & Mary 0, George Mason 8); NEC (Mt. St. Mary's 0, Sacred Heart 9); Big East (Pitt 2, Georgetown 25); Big West (UC-Irvine 0, Cal-St-Fullerton 26); WAC (New Mexico State 24, Boise State 26); MAAC (Rider 23, Siena 28); and Big 10 (Illinois 0, Wisconsin 29).

Update, 8:21pm: With Tennessee (picked by 58) losing to Arkansas (picked by D Kedson), the SEC joins the list, making ten conferences with neither finalist chosen by a majority of our contestants. It doesn't even matter who wins the late semifinal, because only four entrants went with Mississippi State (N Donadio, S Leach, Marshall, M Peloso) and nobody was anywhere near Georgia.

Boy, we're good.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Full swing

Well, all the remaining conference championships are in full swing. Today's big news is American won its first conference title in the history of the World. So, naturally, 31 of our contestants predicted it to happen. In related news, unofficial tallies indicate 27 of our entrants think scientists will this year discover a live unicorn, and 16 believe the President will soon say something intelligent.

Only one person thought enough of the commissioners' reasoning yet also ignored our caveat that we weren't actually suggesting anyone pick Vanderbilt. Not surprisingly, it was M Leach, who also chose quarterfinal loser Ohio in the MAC and failed semifinalist Bucknell in the Patriot League and thus has "undertaken" fellow grade-schooler S Leach for last place. Still, the Little Leaches combined score is 10 points less than co-leader and alleged grown-up P Leach, who shares the lead with Fitzmyer.

The Big East has earned its own paragraph, as 23 of us liked loser Louisville, 7 preferred passed-by pConnecticut (Booth, Dallas, Fitzmyer, P Leach, Marshall, McAtee-Gattone, Selarnick), 5 never nixed ne'er-do-well Notre Dame (N Donadio, M Leach, Perry, Ripley, L Schlegel), and a single supporter selected sacked Syracuse (Packman). Georgetown jelled for just 25 of us, while pesky Pitt was picked by Karlsruher and M Siegel, and three marauders mugged for Marquette (Harlan, D Kedson, Sakowski).

Other early losers were Purdue (selected by Adams, De Maso, ME Donadio, N Donadio, B Kleiman, P Leach, Marshall, Simon, Smith), Xavier (chosen by 60 of our 66 entrants), Pacific (taken by George B, Booth, Nowlan, Cooper, Fitzmyer, Packman, S Leach, J McAtee, McKillip), Western Michigan (selected by Cooper, S Leach, R Simon), New Mexico (picked by Harlan, McAtee-Gattone), and Ohio State (chosen by commissioner D Kedson). The only people still alive in the Atlantic 10 are the six who took St. Joseph's (George B, N Donadio, M Josephs, Nowlan, L Schlegel, Settle).

There are still a lot of games to go tonight, but this commissioner is a little under the weather, so this will be the last update tonight. We hope to cover those games tomorrow, along with the 11 conference titles up for grabs.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

(never mind)

Actually we don't have the Patriot League finals or any semifinals today. That would be tomorrow. Today, you'll get nothing and like it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mary, Mary, quite...

...the champion. Mount St. Mary's becomes the second conference winner of the year that was picked by nobody in our contest (joining San Diego). And if you consider some of the long shots chosen by our entrants, that's really saying something. In the Big Sky, Portland State (picked by 55) beat back Northern Arizona.

Fitzmyer and P Leach currently share the top spot, with 58 points. Tomorrow we have the Patriot League finals and a whole lot of semifinals, as we count down the minutes to Selection Sunday.

Have a field day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Butler did it

Bubble teams everywhere rejoice! The Horizon League finals are finished, and the Butlerian contrarians have been put in their place, as 63 of us predicted they would. Be. In the Summit, Oral Roberts (chosen by 51 of us) prevailed, although, sadly, Morehead State was rejected some time ago. The Sun Belt battle of the directional schools was won by Western Kentucky, picked by 20 of us, who mastered Middle Tennessee.

In the Big Sky semifinals, the five of us who liked Northern Arizona (ME Donadio, N Donadio, S Leach, M Peloso, Rybaltowski) bested the six of us who fancied Weber State (Cooper, J Donadio, M Leach, McAtee-Gattone, Packman, Sakowski). The late game features Portland State (picked by 55) against Idaho State (picked by zero), but we're not staying up to report the results.

Three entrants are tied for first with 53 points: Fitzmyer, McAtee-Gattone, and Perry Leach, who must have some evil science fiction thing going on, because Samantha Leach and Madison Leach are in last and second-to-last place, respectively, by a fairly wide margin.

Tomorrow, the Big Sky and NEC finals. Ee-yah.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No place like home

When we were giving tips on how to pick conference champions, we forgot to mention one little point. The team playing on its home court often has an advantage. Granted, we should have said something about it, but to be entirely honest we thought it was obvious. Alas, no, as exactly nobody picked San Diego, who just won the WCC championship in -- you guessed it -- San Diego.

On the flip side, a whole bunch of us (45, to be exact) picked South Alabama to win the Sun Belt championship on their home court, but they lost in the league semifinals, to Middle Tennessee State, picked only by Selarnick. MTSU will play Western Kentucky (chosen by 20) in the Sun Belt final.

In the Southern Conference, overwhelming favorite Davidson (selected by 64) overwhelmed Elon. In the Colonial and the MAAC, George Mason (picked by 8 -- see previous post for their names) and Siena (picked by 28) came through.

We're down to two co-leaders. Last season's pool champion, M Peloso, and rookie McAtee-Gattone currently share the lead with 40 points. Tomorrow we have championships for the Summit, Sun Belt, and Horizon, and semifinals for the Big Sky. See ya.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

How could you not like the Drake?

57 entrants loved the Drake, and they were right. Now there are 29 people tied for first (new standings posted over there on the right side, where it says "Standings").

A bunch of semifinals today. In the Southern Conference, 64 of us picked Davidson and nobody picked Elon (the other league finalist). The only people out of this one are Acchione, who took Chattanooga, and McKillip, who chose Appalachian State. That is, they're the only people who are out of it unless Davidson loses... In the MAAC, 28 people liked Siena and 23 went for Rider. It's the 11 who chose Niagara, the two who tried Loyola-Maryland, and the individualists who checked the box for Marist and Fairfield (one each) who aren't so happy right now. In the America East Conference, 58 of us will be rooting for UMBC while only ME Donadio had the guts to come out for Hartford. The five people who chose Vermont (Dallas, M Leach, Reilly, Siegel, R Simon) and the two who picked Albany (J Donadio, S Leach) presumably used something other than guts. In the Patriot League, we had no clear favorite, although the most votes went to league finalist American (31). Un-American choices included Navy (15), Lafayette (11), Bucknell (6), and Holy Cross (Batman)(3). Nobody, however, smiled for Colgate, the other team who'll be playing for the conference title.

It's an entirely different kettle of picks in the Northeast Conference, where Mt. St. Mary's (chosen by no one) whupped Bob Morris (chosen by 46 of us), and will play Sacred Heart (picked by 9 -- Siegel, Wetherell, ME Donadio, Kasprzak, P Leach, S Leach, Nowlan, Reilly, Selarnick) for the conference championship. Eleven unfortunate music lovers went with Wagner. And in the Colonial Athletic Association, our overwhelming favorite, VCU (picked by 58), went down meekly to William & Mary (picked by a big fat zero). The Tribe moves on to face George Mason, chosen by eight astute entrants (Jon B, Brenner I, Brenner II, Dallas, P Leach, McAtee-Gattone, M Peloso, Selarnick).

San Diego beat St. Mary's in double OT, but it still allows us to mention three teams with "Mary" in their name in the same men's basketball blog entry. Nobody picked the Toreros -- though they were playing on their home floor and thus probably deserved some love -- who will face off against Gonzaga (chosen by 47) in the WCC championship. 19 misguided souls selected St. Mary's.

Four championships (MAAC, Colonial, WCC, Southern) tonight, plus two semifinals (Summit, Sun Belt). Have a great day.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Three more punch their ticket

Favorites Winthrop (chosen by 42 entrants), Belmont (56), and Austin Peay (58) won their conferences, meaning the three clever ones who pinned their hopes on Jacksonville (Dallas, L Donadio, M Leach) weren't so lucky (or so clever, to be brutally honest) after all.

More of the same in today's semifinals in the Horizon (the finals will feature Butler (63) vs. Cleveland State (M Leach only)) and the MVC (Drake (57) vs. Illinois State (Millan, Settle)). Overthinking losers in the MVC included M Josephs, P Leach, Sakowski, R Schlegel, and Salarnick, all of whom selected Southern Illinois, Acchione, who took Creighton, and Kasprzak, who went with Bradley.

Updated standings have been posted. More than half of us (35, to be precise) picked all four winners so far and have 20 points. On the other side of the spectrum, the Leach Sisters, Samantha and Madison (well, they might be cousins instead of sisters, I'm not really sure; but based on their selections I can say with confidence they come from the same gene pool), have only 15 points combined, after one or the other of them chose Tennessee-Martin, Murray State, Jacksonville, Cleveland State, UNC-Ashville, and Gardner-Webb -- and that's just counting the four conferences that have had semifinals so far, plus the Ivy League, who everybody got right. Suffice it to say this isn't the last we've heard of the Little Leaches.

Tomorrow's semifinals include the Southern, Colonial, WCC, MAAC, NEC, Patriot, and America East. The only final tomorrow is the MVC. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Clever and not

The OVC and Atlantic Sun played their semifinals tonight, and this is what we were talking about. Favorites Austin Peay (picked by 58 of us) and Belmont (56) advanced to their respective conference finals. But that was too easy for some of our contestants, who preferred the challenge of choosing the other team -- the team poised to pull off an upset and make the person who picked them look and feel like a genius. In the OVC, three entrants chose Murray State (Adams, ME Donadio, S Leach), two took Morehead State (N Donadio, Selarnick), two picked Tennessee-Martin (M Leach, Packman), and one went with Eastern Kentucky (Siegel). Yes, very clever, except all these guys lost. Austin Peay will be playing Tennessee State tomorrow, a team who absolutely nobody picked.

In the Atlantic Sun, Belmont will face off against Jacksonville, which was chosen by three entrants (Dallas, L Donadio, M Leach), most likely in a stroke of blind luck. Or not. Depends on who wins tomorrow night, doesn't it? Six would-be Einsteins rolled snake eyes on Eastern Tennessee State (George B, N Donadio, M Josephs, Packman, Perry, Selarnick) and S Leach gambled and lost on Gardner-Webb.

In other news, Wright State was the Wrong Pick for M Peloso and Settle in the Horizon, where 63 of us said the Butler will do it. The only Butlerian contrarian remaining is, of course, M Leach, who chose Cleveland State.

Tomorrow it's the finals of the Big South, OVC, and Atlantic Sun, and the semifinals of the Horizon and MVC. See you then.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Quinnipiac goes down

We are devastated to report that Quinnipiac has met its doom, with the end coming at approximately 8:57 pm (EST) at the hands of Mount St. Mary's in the NEC quarterfinals. Fortunately everyone took the commissioners' advice and refrained from choosing the Mighty Quinns to win their conference.

In other news, it's Winthrop vs. North Carolina-Ashville in the Big South finals. 42 of us selected Winthrop while 24 went with UNCA, so nobody's out of the Big South just yet. Tune in Saturday for the finals...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yes, it's a 66-way tie for first!

And if you don't believe me, check out the standings (which for future reference may also be found on the right side of this page under the heading "Past Newsletters and Standings").

So, you're in first place. Print it out now!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Good Start...

Man, I hope everyone is 1 for 1 in the tournament pool as Cornell is the winner of the Ivy. Err...i hope no one went with the Quakers or Tigers out of pure name value. Every year the Ivy provides the chance for even the longest of long shots to win this pool and taste first place.