Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What the big toe said to the little toe

It's over, and we have a tie for first place between Nowakowski and R Wanger, with 328 points. Third place goes to J Go Owls, with 327 points, but third prize goes to J PHINO, with 326, because J Go Owls chose not to pay. J Marshall also had 326 and also chose not to pay. As reported earlier, the prize for leading after the field was chosen was won by R Schlegel.

The last time we had a tie for first place was 2005, a year in which, oddly enough, North Carolina was champion and a Wanger was one of the contestants who were tied for first (although in 2005 it was K Wanger, now known as K Ripley, who is right now probably kicking herself for choosing to go through childbirth at the time the pool was due). Even stranger, in 2005 the person K Wanger was tied with was Butscher, who in eariler posts we erroneously concluded would be a prizewinner this year.

Official final standings may be found both on the right side of this page, and here.

Kudos to Nowakowski, R Wanger, and J PHINO. Your checks will soon be in the mail.

Thus endeth the 2009 PreNCAA Contest. Please return in February 2010 for more fun and profit.

Enjoy the rest of your year.

Our bad

It was erroneously reported on this blog that if UNC won the title Butscher would be tied for third place. Upon closer inspection it appears Butscher chose Louisville as his national champion, and not UNC as previously believed, which means Butscher in fact is tied for 21st place and will not be among our prizewinners. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience and/or misplaced euphoria to which it may or may not have directly or indirectly contributed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Going Green

Walking to Ford Field yesterday afternoon, we probably saw 50 Michigan State shirts for every one of any of the other three competing teams. A sea of green, if you will. Inside the arena, it was without doubt a home game for the Spartans, with the usual home game result. The second game had a miniscule fraction of the intensity of the first game, but that may have simply been a reflection of Villanova's shooting percentage. If it's any consolation to any Nova Gang members out there, Villanova's band was the best by a large margin.

Depending on the game results, our winners will be:

1. Nowakowski 328 (tie)
1. R Wanger 328 (tie)
3**. J Go Owls 327**
3. J PHINO 326 (tie)
3**. J Marshall 326**

1. Karlsruher 296
2. S Adams 291
3. Nowakowski 288 (tie)
3. R Wanger 288 (tie)

**J Go Owls and J Marshall are non-paying entrants, and thus will get nothing and like it.

The omen-seeking commissioner's son has declared from his perch in a Detroit suburb that everywhere he looks all he can see is Michigan.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

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 hypothetical 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. Who's 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."

We'll see what it means tonight. Enjoy the games.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tag Team tenacity

The waters may get muddy, but eventually the dirt settles to the bottom. As has been happening since the dawn of time, lawyers (248.67) have finished below humans (255.1). So it is, so it has been, so it shall ever be. Amen. Spiny anteaters (264.0), of course, have evolved beyond the other competing species.

Also in line with the immutable stars, females (261.5) are better than males (254.69). The No Child (252.20) Left Behind legislation has clearly failed.

The average entrant this year has a score of 254.67, which is a huge drop from last year at this time (290.49). It appears Darwin never studied our contestants. The average commissioner's score is 236.50, which says something but we're not planning to expound upon it. Paid contestants score an average of 257.59, while once again non-paying participants (244.81) have shown they fail to pay for a very good reason.

Among technical professions, accountants (268.33) added things up better than engineers (268.11) and IT Consultants (255.0). Teachers (255.33) apparently only think they know more than students (260.88). The only other professionals worse than practicing attorneys (257.67) are members of the liberal media (249.67), whose slanted coverage has finally come back to haunt them. Retired people (243.33) should stay that way.

Among employers, Urban Engineering (261.0) and Conrail (261.0) are equivalent. They'll be swapping their staff any time now.

Regionally, Central NJ (263.0) beat out the Philadelphia suburbs (261.35) for the high ground. Such as it is. Western PA (257.4) edged the Beltway (253.0) and urban Philadelphia (246.83). If it's true that the South (246.36) is gonna rise again, they better start working on it.

In the turbulent Tag Team tussles, the Marshall Plan (281.5) beat back the Adams Family (275.33) for the spot of honor. The Donadios (263.0) finished ahead of the Ripley-Believe-It-Or-Nots (261.0) and Whiteside and people who don't like him so much (259.67). The D'Zurans (254.5) are safely ahead of the South Philly Playground Guys (248.0), and the Paston Brothers (236.0) are still giving thanks that the Lord created the Leach Gang (228.25).

It's a good year to be a John Doe (277.67). Rick (269.0) and Luke (269.0) tied among names ending in the "k" sound. Bob (265.5), Chris (263.5), David (261.5), Ken (258.5), and Ed (256.0) are above average names, while Brett (245.0), Matt (220.0), and Nick (218.5) should think about getting theirs legally changed.


The weeping thing seems to be working for Karlsruher (296, Pitt) who is currently in first place and thus ahead of that pesky Millan (281, UNC), but if UNC wins it all, Karlsruher may really be crying because in that case he'll be conquered by his rival once again.

Whiteside (276, UConn) clings to a 10 point lead over co-worker McKillip (266, UNC), but (again) if UNC wins we may see a change in the pecking order. As seems to be her annual fate, sister-in-law Booth (237, Okla) is eating Whiteside's "shabbalicious" dust.

Also rooting for the boys in baby blue are Joe Mc (263, UNC), who can sneak ahead of daughter McAtee-Gattone (264, Pitt) for the first time ever if UNC wins, and Coach Doc (277 UNC), who can shove aside daughter S Adams (291, UConn) under the same unfortunate circumstance. Alleged Duke-loving M Peloso (273, UNC) can master her husband B Peloso (277, Pitt) if the Heels win, with the added bonus of losing all her credibility and self-respect.

B Peloso is currently fending off archnemesis Sullivan (266, UConn), but he will fail miserably if UConn takes the title. Sullivan already knows she's better than husband D'Zuro (244, Okla), and can claim bragging rights at her next séance with dead mother-in-law Haklar (244, UConn).

R Wanger (288, UNC) has finally bested daughter K Ripley (253, UNC), but he had to beat up on a 10-month pregnant woman to do it. P Ripley (242, UNC) chose the wiser course and bowed to his wife for the third time in their three year marriage.

Children L Schlegel (259, Pitt) and B Kleiman (236, Memphis) made valiant but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to unseat their fathers, R Schlegel (263, Okla) and M Kleiman (237, Pitt) as head poolpicker of the household. In the Donadio home, however, youngins Jr Donadio (279, UConn) and L Donadio (279, UNC) pwn their parents, J Donadio (262, Okla) and ME Donadio (236, Pitt), as well as sibling N Donadio (259, Louis), who at least was able put his mom in a time out.

M Paston (218, Okla) got hammered by a sibling with an unidentified initial (? Paston, 255, UNC). Commissioner M Josephs (233, UConn) is so far behind his dad, D Josephs (283, UNC) that it doesn't matter whether his champion wins or not. P Leach (240, UConn) can pound patriarch E Leach (246, UNC) if UConn wins, but there's no absolutely no hope for the Leach Kids (185, Pitt).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All Name 2009

First Team, Crazy Long Name Division
Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims, Jr. (Alabama State) (Captain)
Lacedarius Dunn (Baylor)
Chinemelu Elonu (Texas A&M)
Kyievarez Ward (Texas)
Orlando Mendez-Valdez (Western Kentucky)

First Team, Normal Length Name Division
Beloved Rogers (Oral Roberts) (Captain) -- Name of the Year
Grievous Vasquez (Maryland - they call him "General")
Derwin Kitchen (Florida State)
Avery Jukes (Butler)
Idong Ibok (Michigan State)

Third Team
Kwadzo Ahelege (Northern Iowa) (Captain)
Dogus Balbay (Texas)
E'Twaun Moore (Purdue)
Lazar Hayward (Marquette)
Divaldo Mbunga (Montana State)

Third World Team
Zaire Taylor (Missouri) (Captain)

Old Testament Team
Jeremiah Dominguez (Portland State) (Captain)
Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
Solomon Alabi (Florida State)
Marshall Moses (Oklahoma State)
Ishmael Smith (Wake Forest)

Honorable Mention for Religious Connotation
Xavier Gibson (Florida State)
Emanuel Maybin (Binghamton)
Dionte Christmas (Temple) (Holiday Division)
Osiris Eldridge (Illinois State) (Greek Division)
Epiphanny Prince (Rutgers Women) (Women's Division)
Brooklyn Pope (Rutgers Women) (Women's Division -- what's in the drinking water up at Rutgers?)

Spelers of the Yeer
Jrue Holiday (UCLA) (Captain)
Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Justynn Hammond (Portland State)**
Semaj Inge (Temple) (Backwards Division)
Steffphon Pettigrew (Western Kentucky) (Department of Redundancy Department Division)

**Siblings of the Year: Justynn Hammond apparently has a brother named Christiaan Hammond and another named Uranus Golden. We wonder if Uranus Golden has ever met 2008 Name of the Year winner Yauney Neptune?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who will win

The contest, that is. Depending on who is the victor in Detroit, our winners will be:

1. Karlsruher 296
2. S Adams 291
3. Nowakowski 288 (tie)
3. R Wanger 288 (tie)

1. S Adams 331
2. Jr Donadio 319
2**. Dax Gray 319**
3. O'Brien 317

1. Nowakowski 328 (tie)
1. R Wanger 328 (tie)
3**. J Go Owls 327**
3. J PHINO 326 (tie)
3**. J Marshall 326**

1. Karlsruher 296
2. S Adams 291
3. Nowakowski 288 (tie)
3. R Wanger 288 (tie)

** Dax Gray, J Marshall, and J Go Owls are non-paying entrants, so their inclusion in this list is sort of honorary. They obviously have a higher love for college basketball and clearly did not want to cheapen their rooting experience by placing a price on their passion, and for this we admire them. Although presumably O'Brien, Butscher, and J PHINO (all three of whom actually have a chance at real money thanks to Gray's, Marshall's, and Go Owls's unwillingness to fork over a measly ten bucks) admire them a lot more than we do.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Final Four is set

Now we know who'll be driving up to the motor city. What perhaps we hadn't expected is there'll be a home team. Well, four of us expected Michigan State to make it (Jr Donadio, J Go Owls, M Peloso, Pogach), though neither they nor anybody else picked the Spartans to win it all. Fifty five individuals took UNC into their Final Four and 27 of them like them as champs. At least one commissioner has no comment except to say he's not bitter.

Of the 70 people who entered this year's contest only one (1) of us accurately selected as many as three of the Final Four, and that was 20-year participant Joe Mc. This stellar achievement may have been the crown of Joe Mc's contest career but it wasn't good enough to put him ahead of 2-year participant McAtee-Gattone, who still leads her father by a point. Although if UNC wins it all, Joe Mc won't have to be scared to take his daughter's phone calls.

Thirty eight people correctly chose two of the Final Four and 28 were right on only one. Three highly skilled contestants (Paston, Reilly, and the irrepressible Leach Kids) managed a grand total of zero (0) accurate Final Four predictions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some days it feels like the Pitts

Not today, though. Fifty one people had Pitt in the Final Four, but they were all wrong. Instead Joe Mc, Pangolin Palace, and Rybaltowski rule the day with their astute selection of Villanova. Eleven contestants with Pitt as their champion have had their hopes dashed, while nobody considered the possibility that Villanova could win it all.

UConn made it and 45 people said hurrah. Twelve of those happy individuals have UConn going all the way. Only Haklar and the Leach Kids had the temerity to suggest Missouri could make the Final Four.

Greek-quoting weeper Karlsruher maintains a small lead over S Adams, Nowakowski, and R Wanger, but Karlsruher picked Pitt to pommel its peers (i.e., win the championship), so the door is still open.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eight is Enough

The favorites all won today, meaning not too many people lost anything. Only 16 people had Kansas in the Final Eight and just 4 (Alberts, Brenner, DeMaso, B Kleiman) took them into the Final Four. Nobody had Arizona or Syracuse going anywhere (although three -- McAtee-Gattone, Rodenstein, G Warner had Arizona as their Wildcard), and just 6 and 2 (R Perry, G Warner) were betting on Gonzaga to reach the Final Eight and Final Four, respectively. None of today's losers are anybody's champion (except maybe their mom's).

For the Final Eight and Final Four, UNC was favored by 69 and 55, Oklahoma by 61 and 39, Louisville by 45 and 23, and Michigan State by 23 and 4 (Jr Donadio, J Go Owls, M Peloso, and Pogach). For champion, it's UNC 27, Oklahoma 10, Louisville 4 (Butscher, N Donadio, Rybaltowski, Wadden), and Michigan State 0.

Die Hard-quoting Karlsruher (256 points) has wept his way to the top spot, followed by S Adams (251), Nowakowski (248), and R Wanger (248). Eighteen other entrants are within one Final Four selection (20 points) of the leader.

With four number one seeds, two number two seeds and two number three seeds in the Final Eight, you might expect our contestants to have nailed it this year. Yeah, right. Only five entrants (Karlsruher, J Go Owls, J Marshall, J Phino, McAtee-Gattone) correctly guessed as many as 7 of the Eight, and two of them were merely non-paying outtakes from the Marshall Plan.

Twenty competitors got 6 of the Eight, 33 got 5, and nine (9) got only four (4) of the Eight (8) right, including both commissioners (M Josephs and D Kedson). Always good to know they're not cheating, right? The Leach Kids, with five accurate Final Eight predictions, look like Little Einsteins compared to R Perry and J Jones (1 & 2), who only managed three (3) proper picks apiece.

Life of Reilly (and others)

Five people lost champions last night, three with Memphis (Reilly, B Kleiman, Pangolin Palace) and two with Duke (R Simon and commissioner D Kedson). Memphis was taken by 48 misguided souls into the Final Eight and 24 into the Final Four. Duke was chosen by 33 for the Eight and 10 for the Four, but at least those entrants' hearts were in the right place. Five people (Booth, Jr Donadio, N Donadio, S Smith, Stanton) took Xavier into the Final Eight, but only Booth had them in her Final Four. Three dice-rollers (Fitch, Haklar, Sadkowski) had Purdue in their Final Eight.

On the good side, 25 people liked Villanova enough to put them in their Final Eight, and three (Joe Mc, Pangolin Palace, Rybaltowski) placed them in their Final Four. Just 13 were wise enough to choose Missouri in their Final Eight, with only two (Haklar, Leach Kids) taking them as far as Detroit.

In probably the most surprising development of the day, UConn (61 in F8, 45 in F4, 12 as champs) and Pitt (68 in F8, 51 in F4, 11 as champs) were both popular and successful.

R Schlegel still clings to the top spot, but five contestants (S Adams, Nowakowski, B Peloso, Butscher, Karlsruher) are within a single Final Eight choice of the leader.

More games tonight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tag Team treats

Dogs and cats living together? Mass hysteria? Well, it may not be a disaster of biblical proportions, but it's possible the world has gone topsy-turvy, as lawyers (177.0) currently lead humans (171.44). For the first time in the contest's 20 year history, there are no feline entrants. In fact, proclaiming that "scaly is the new black," the only competitor from the animal kingdom is a scaly anteater, Pangolin Palace (174), who has come down pretty much right in the middle of the lawyers and the people. At least gravity's working in the case of females (173.5) and males (172.32), although clearly children (166.2) have a lot of growing up to do.

Practing attorneys (177.67) currently claim the top occupation as well, barely ahead of accountants (176.67) and members of the media (176.33). Teachers (175.33) know more than students (172.75), and engineers (174.78) solve their problems better than computer professionals (171.67). Retired persons (166.67) appear to have retired for a reason. Among employers, Conrail (176.0) is beating out Urban Engineering (167.67).

In the true Tag Team tallies, the Adams Family (178.67) is currently leading the South Philly Playground Guys (176.0), the D'Zurans (174.5), the Ripley-Believe-It-Or-Nots (174.33) and the Marshall Plan (174.0). Whiteside and his Detractors (173.0) and the Donadios are tied with 173.0, while the only thing keeping the Paston Brothers (166.5) from complete ignominy is the fact that the Leach Gang (158.25) is still in town.

If you're picking pools, the suburbs of Phildelphia (174.81) are where you want to be this year, certainly better than visiting Western PA (173.4), Central NJ (173.0), or urban Philadelphia (168.5). The further south you go, the worse you'll get, as the Beltway (168.0) and the Deep South (163.34) represent the bottom of regional thinking.

In the name game, it's Rick (184.0) on top and Nick (158.5) on the bottom. David (181.5) leads Ed (181.0), Bret/t (180.0), Kevin (178.5) and Bob (178.0), while John (174.33) is edging out Luke (174.0) and Matt (170.0).


Last year Karlsruher declared he would never lose to Millan again, and backed it up by getting clobbered by 39 points. This year, Karlsruher quoted Plutarch (or maybe it was Alan Rickman in Die Hard: "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer"), but he's losing to Millan yet again, 191 to 186, so maybe he doesn't have to weep just yet.

Whiteside (176) continues his mastery over sister-in-law Booth (157), but so far is well behind workplace adversary, McKillip (186). K Ripley (163), who annually bests both her husband and father, trails both P Ripley (172) and R Wanger (188) this year. But the rumor is she was in labor with a baby boy when she made her picks, so perhaps that explains it. Between the Paston brothers, "M" (168) leads an undisclosed initial (165).

B Peloso (177) is hanging by a thread over his archnemesis, Sullivan (176), although as usual he trails his Duke-loving wife, M Peloso (183). M Peloso, however, has forever forfeited her Duke-loving credentials by choosing North Carolina to win it all. Sullivan is still ahead of both her husband, D'Zuro (174), and her deceased mother-in-law, Haklar (174).

Joe Mc (163), one of the few competitors to have played in all twenty contests, is for the second consecutive year trailing daughter McAtee-Gattone, who is one of the many competitors to have played in just two. Coach Doc (187) is having similar problems with daughter S Adams (191), and J Donadio (172) is eating the dust of two of his three descendants -- Jr Donadio and Lucia Donadio both have 179 while poor, deprived N Donadio has only 169. Mother ME Donadio (166) is being spanked by all three kids.

Other entrants are having fewer problems with their progeny. Leader R Schlegel (193) is easily handling son L Schlegel (169), while M Kleiman (177) is barely suppressing son B Kleiman (176). D Josephs (183) is once again trouncing son and commissioner M Josephs (173). Leach Gang patriarch E Leach (176) is beating son P Leach (170) and whupping the backsides of his grandchildren, the Leach Kids (135).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spartans conquer Trojans

Michigan State edged Southern Cal today in a gripping reenactment of the Peloponnesian War. More pertinent, perhaps, to both the current millennium and our entrants, is that it marked the first time in history that the twelve top seeds in the NCAA tournament all made the Sweet Sixteen.

So most of us should be in pretty good shape. Unless of course you're one of the 12 risk takers to have Marquette in your Final Eight or the 7 cagey contestants to go with Arizona State. Or Rybaltowski, who chose Siena. Or one of the three people whose Final Four includes either Arizona State (George B, Pangolin Palace, B Peloso) or Marquette (Fitch, R Perry, Reilly).

Reilly adds Marquette to his spate of unfortunate decisions, which include Utah and Texas into his Final Eight. Even more impressive is R Perry whose Final Eight has Marquette joining Texas, Washington, Wake Forest, and both Gonzaga and North Carolina (opponents this Friday so only one of which can actually reach the Elite Eight), and whose Final Four consists of Marquette, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, and UNC, meaning the first weekend is barely over and we already know he'll be correct on at most one (1) of the above.

The only Wildcard remaining is Arizona, and thus L McAtee-Gattone, Rodenstein, and Warner stand alone in receiving more than 1 Wildcard point.

No more games until Thursday, which should give me time to finally produce the Rivals and Tag Team numbers. See ya.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thabeet goes on...

Half the Sweet Sixteen was set today, and it was Waterloo for Wildcards. Washington (chosen by 13), LSU (13), Texas (6), and Maryland (1) all went down today, leaving only Arizona (L McAtee-Gattone, Rodenstein, Warner) and Dayton (Wadden) still alive for Wildcard points.

Final Eight losers included UCLA (picked by 8), Texas (5), Washington (2), and LSU (2). Mahalko and R Perry had the misfortune of picking both Texas and Washington, losing 25% of their Final Eight in one evening. R Perry also had Wake Forest in his Final Eight, so presumably he's not very happy right now. Reilly had Texas today after losing Utah yesterday.

Three people had UCLA in the Final Four (DeVito, D'Zuro, and Haklar), while just J Broder had Texas and Mahalko had Washington.

The standings didn't change today, so I didn't re-post them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

B.A.D. day for the A.C.C.

With a small number of already discussed exceptions, more or less every Final Eight and Final Four team chosen by our group is still alive. Except for ACC stalwarts Clemson and Wake Forest, that is. Twenty-five of us chose Wake into the Final Eight and 16 of us liked Clemson, while the teams had three votes each for the Final Four (Clemson: George B, M Josephs, Wanger; Wake: R Perry, Wanger, and of course, the Leach Kids). Wanger deserves special mention for choosing BOTH Wake Forest and Clemson into his Final Four, pretty much scragging his entry by the end of the first round.

Rybaltowski, who took Siena into his Final Eight, must feel pretty good. At least until Sunday. And now that we think about it, there was one other Final Eight fiasco, as Reilly expected Utah to be one of the last eight standing.

Our most popular Wildcard, West Virginia (with 15 votes) went down hard, as did our fifth most popular Wildcard, Utah (5 votes). This leaves 13 people with LSU and 13 with Washington, 6 people with Texas, 3 with Arizona (L McAtee-Gattone, Rodenstein, G Warner), and 1 each with Dayton (Wadden) and Maryland (R Simon).

First day action

Presumably a lot of people who picked Memphis, Villanova, and UCLA breathed a moderately large sigh of relief yesterday, but we had relatively few actual casualties on the first day of the Big Cha Cha.

It was a bad day for George B, who had California as his Wildcard and Clemson in both his Final Eight and Final Four. Fifteen other entrants joined him in choosing Clemson into the Final Eight, but only Wanger and commissioner M Josephs stood with George B in taking the Tigers into the Final Four. P Leach, who was the sole contestant to think Illinois could make the Final Eight, and DeVito, who had Minnesota as his Wildcard, were the only other entrants to lose anything yesterday (at least with respect to the contest).

Still working on Rivals and Tag Team material -- sorry about that.

Enjoy today's games.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Our favorites for the Final Four include three #1 seeds and a #2, although the #2 is in the same region as one of the #1's, so we won't be right (as if that's a surprise to anybody).

Innovative choices were made by George B (Arizona State and Clemson), M Peloso (Duke and Michigan State), Pangolin Palace (Arizona State and Villanova), and R Wanger (Clemson and Wake Forest). Even more inventive were Haklar (Duke, Missouri, UCLA), R Perry (Gonzaga, Marquette, and Wake Forest), and of course the Leach Kids (Duke, Missouri, and Wake Forest).

Everybody's Final Four selections may be perused here.

All Final Four teams selected are below:

North Carolina (55)
Pittsburgh (51)
Connecticut (45)
Oklahoma (39)
Memphis (24)
Louisville (23)
Duke (10)
Kansas (4)
Michigan State (4)
Arizona State (3)
Marquette (3)
UCLA (3)
Villanova (3)
Wake Forest (3)
Clemson (3)
Gonzaga (2)
Missouri (2)
Xavier (1)
Texas (1)
Washington (1)

Final Eight count

Our top seven choices for the Final Eight are all #1 or #2 seeds, which probably bodes well for an upset-filled tournament.

As you'd expect, a few contestants branched out into creative territory. Haklar, for instance, chose Missouri, Purdue, and UCLA into her Final 8, while Reilly chose Marquette, Texas, and Utah, and commissioner M Josephs liked Clemson, Gonzaga, and Kansas. Other creative souls include Mahalko, who picked Clemson, Texas, and Washington, and Wadden, who went with Gonzaga, Kansas, and LSU. Going one further was R Perry, who picked Gonzaga, Marquette, Texas, and Washington to be four of the last eight teams standing.

But this year's winner for most imaginative Final Eight goes to J Jones (as well as his alter-ego, J Jones (2)), who is already two picks behind everyone else after going with Clemson, UCLA, Florida, and Kentucky. Although he's looking pretty good in the NIT pool.

All Final Eight teams chosen are as below. For a complete breakdown of everybody's choices, try this link.

North Carolina (69)
Pittsburgh (68)
Connecticut (61)
Oklahoma (61)
Memphis (48)
Louisville (45)
Duke (33)
Wake Forest (25)
Villanova (25)
Michigan State (23)
Kansas (16)
Clemson (16)
Missouri (13)
Marquette (12)
UCLA (8)
Arizona State (7)
Gonzaga (6)
Texas (5)
Xavier (5)
Purdue (3)
LSU (2)
Florida (2)
Washington (2)
Kentucky (2)
Illinois (1)
Utah (1)
Siena (1)


Picking Wildcards is a tricky business, but some make it trickier than others. This year ten (10) entrants have a zero (0) percent chance of grabbing any Wildcard points, and we're happy to name them here.

In addition to Broder, J Jones, and R Perry, who chose illegal Wildcards, seven contestants chose Wildcards so wild they were not invited to play: Packman (St. Mary's); Ripley (South Carolina); Mahalko (Penn State); Booth (Florida); D Gray (Florida); Stanton (Creighton); and 2007 contest winner and noted Duke-lover M Peloso (Davidson).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Conference call

Last year, not counting the Ivy League, there were only 14 conferences out of 30 where more than half of our group of canny contestants correctly claimed the conference king. As those who know us might guess, we only bring that up because this year we're even worse.

This year (again, not counting the Ivy), there were only 12 conferences out of 30 where more than half of us guessed right. That's a whopping 40%. In contrast, in 14 conferences this year, 11 or fewer of us correctly chose the conference champion:

Morehead State: 11
Purdue: 11
Akron: 10
Louisville: 9
Temple: 9
CS Northridge: 9
Duke: 7
Northern Iowa: 6
Missouri: 5
Portland St: 3
Cleveland St: 1
Mississippi St: 1
Chattanooga: 0
USC: 0

But examining this sort of thing from a group perspective can sometimes be misleading. If you take the time to look at it from an individual perspective you'll find we look truly pathetic. Taking Cornell out of the equation, only two (2) entrants got more than half the conference tournament champions right: Schlegel and Millan, both of whom got 16 of 30. That's 53% accuracy, for those of you failing at home.

But the commissioners want to give credit where credit is due. Reilly, for example was on the money with Louisville, Mississippi State, and Northern Iowa, certainly enough cool picks to make us forget he also chose Boise St., Jackson St., New Mexico, Wis-GB, UC Riverside, and The Citadel. M Josephs (Louisville, Temple, and CS Northridge) and P Leach (Missouri, Temple, and Purdue) also had three snazzy selections and at least as many sorry ones. R Simon did them one better, choosing CS Northridge, Duke, ETSU, and Northern Iowa, along with Boston University, George Mason, Holy Cross, and San Diego St. Moving up the ladder, Sakowski picked five surprise winners (Purdue, Binghamton, ETSU, Morehead State, and Cleveland State) along with a lot more than five not-so-surpise losers (BYU, Charleston, Dayton, G Mason, Holy Cross, Liberty, New Mexico St., Niagara, Nicholls St., Oral Roberts, and Columbia (!)).

J Donadio impressed with Akron, CS Northridge, Duke, Louisville, Morehead St., and Binghamton, but only managed to pick 7 other (non-Ivy) conferences correctly. Pogach picked Akron, Duke, Louisville, ETSU, Binghamton, and Portland State, but only pulled three other (non-Ivy) conference champions out of his you-know-where, in large part because of choices like BYU, George Mason, Holy Cross, Illinois, Illinois St., Jackson St., New Mexico St., Niagara, Oral Roberts, UC Riverside, Troy, and Sacred Heart.

But, as always, we need to genuflect in the general direction of the Leach Kids, who picked CS Northridge, Morehead State, Northern Iowa, and two (2) other non-Ivy conferences correctly. If you're keeping score (and we know you are), that's a total of five correct conference tournament champions out of 30, a mind-numbing 16.7% accuracy. But don't worry, they picked two hyphenated schools from Arkansas (Ark-Pine Bluff and Ark-Little Rock, as well as Boise St., Boston U, Long Island, Montana, Northeastern, Rider, South Carolina St., Southern Utah, Tex A&M-Corpus Christi, and Western Michigan), so it's OK.

Look for a Final Four and Final Eight count on Tuesday, and Rivals round and Tag Team tallies on Wednesday.

Edit (3/18/09): Well, maybe not Wednesday for the Rivals and Tag Team stuff, but I'll get them up as soon as I can -- DK

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Up on my soapbox

OK, this doesn't really have anything to do with the contest, but indulge me for a moment and consider the following four team resumes, and tell me which one you'd pick for the fourth number one seed (you can only choose one)?

Team A:
RPI: 2
Conference tournament champ? Yes
Conference standings: tie for 2nd
Win-loss: 28-6
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 5-3
Schedule strength: 3
Last 10: 8-2

Team B:
RPI: 7
Conference tournament champ? Yes
Conference standings: 1st
Win-loss: 31-3
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 1-2
Schedule strength: 38
Last 10: 10-0

Team C:
RPI: 8
Conference tournament champ? No (lost in conference quarterfinals)
Conference standings: tie for 2nd
Win-loss: 27-4
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 4-3
Schedule strength: 30
Last 10: 7-3

Team D:
RPI: 5
Conference tournament champ? No (lost in conference semifinals)
Conference standings: 1st
Win-loss: 26-6
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 5-2
Schedule strength: 5
Last 10: 8-2

I know it's not easy, but the only thing for sure is the team you don't pick is team C, right? So what in the world is team C[onnecticut] doing as a number one seed? What possible rationale could the committee have used?

It boggles the imagination.

The brackets are in

Well, the brackets are set and we're off to the races. Our leader after selection of the field (and winner for the prize thereof) is long-time entrant R Schlegel, with 193 points, barely edging out S Adams, who has 191, and Millan, who has 190. Congratulations Mr. Schlegel.

Full standings may be found using the link on the right hand side of this page, or if you're too lazy to go there then you can try here.

We'll have lots more fun, facts, and fabulosity tomorrow, so tune in then.

Millan, dahling

Just four more games and then the fabulous selection special. In the meantime, Memphis (picked by all 70 of us), Binghamton (picked by 23), Temple (9), Missouri (5), Alabama State (59), Utah State (63), Louisville (9), and Cal State Northridge (9) strutted down the championship runway yesterday, leaving Millan as our sole leader, with 86 points. Hot on his heels are S Adams, Brenner, Coach Doc, and McKillip, all with 84 points. Bringing up the rear in fine style are the Leach Kids, with 45.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Buy American

American won its 2nd straight NCAA tournament berth and its 2nd all-time. This impressive history led 61 of us to pick the Eagles, making this one of the few results we've been able to properly predict.

Chalk up the Atlantic 10 as one of the much larger group of conferences about which we've had absolutely no clue, with Xavier (chosen by 47) going down to Temple (chosen by 9) and Dayton (picked by 13) losing to Duquesne (picked by nooooooobody). The count of nine contestants still alive in the A-10 matches the 9 who still have an interest in the Big East (all Louisville) and is actually significantly better than the 5 who still have something to say in the Big 12 (all Missouri).

Just two more days until Selection Sunday, so enjoy the ride.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life imitates art...

...well, if you can call a commercial for a mediocre wings place "art" then life imitates it. Right down to the refs looking into their magic monitor and waving off the game winning basket at the end of regulation. But Syracuse downing UConn (chosen by 26 entrants) in 6 (!) overtimes wasn't the only disappointment for some of our contestants. Oklahoma (picked by 57), Pitt (32), Sam Houston St. (21), UNLV (18), Miami Ohio (10), Kansas (7), Clemson (6), Arizona (5), NC A&T (4), Kent (4), CS Fullerton (3), Texas Arlington (2), California (1), Rhode Island (1), and Marquette (1) also went down. Hard.

They haven't played the semifinals yet, but only 11 entrants are still alive in the Big East (9 for Louisville, L Schlegel for Villanova, and D Kedson for West Virginia). And only 6 people are still interested in the Big 12 results (5 for Missouri and R Perry for Texas).

More fun tomorrow.

At the buzzer

Two more conference champions determined last night and both of them won by two on shots with mere seconds to play. In the NEC, Robert Morris (selected by 60 entrants) beat Mount St. Mary's (selected by 7). In the Big Sky, Portland State (favored by 3 entrants) beat Montana State (favored by none), much to the delight of Pogach, L Schlegel, and Stanton. Pogach used this unlikely victory to springboard all the way up into a tie for last with the Leach Kids, with 20 points. Stanton used it to keep pace with Brenner and B Peloso at the top, because Stanton also picked Mount St. Mary's. The leaders have 45 points.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Butler didn't... you know

Three more conference champions, including another one nobody saw coming. Well, Sakowski did, cleverly counting on Cleveland State over Butler (chosen by 68). The other two were more in the mainstream, with North Dakota State (53) winning a squeaker over Oakland (chosen only by Alberts, N Donadio and E Leach), and Western Kentucky (57) controlling South Alabama (0).

The Big Sky winner will be yet another surprise (at least to us), as Weber State (65) got knocked out, leaving Portland State (Pogach, L Schlegel, Stanton) against Montana State (nobody) for the league title.

Four more conferences started their tournaments yesterday, but the only entrants who've lost so far in the MAC, MEAC, WAC, and Big East are the Leach Kids, who chose Western Michigan in the MAC, and L Schlegel who tapped Howard in the MEAC.

We have a three-way tie for first, Brenner, B Peloso, and Stanton, each with 40 points, and a one-way tie for last, Pogach, with 15 points, who has somehow managed to fall behind the Leach Kids, who have 20.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Uh, oh

Check out this video link from the Onion.

Grave implications for the Contest, wouldn't you say? Unless you picked the On-line University of Liverpool, of course.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat who chewed the new shoes?

We've finally seen a conference champion that our entrants favored to win; in fact we've now seen three (Gonzaga, chosen by 67; Siena, chosen by 59, and VCU, chosen by 50). But today's big story is Chattanooga winning the Southern Conference after being chosen by zero (0) of our canny contestants.

We now have a six-way tie for first (Luke and John, Brenner, ME Donadio, B Peloso, Stanton, and last year's winner, Whiteside). We have a two-way tie for last, but both of them are J Jones.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Down goes Davidson

Another conference champion today, and another one chosen by hardly any of us. Northern Iowa won the MVC and only six contestants weren't surprised (Mahalko, McKillip, Reilly, R Simon, S Smith, and the Leach Kids). Besides Cornell we've yet to see a conference champ that more than half of us thought would win.

And the streak won't be broken in the Southern Conference championship game tomorrow, as overwhelming favorite Davidson (selected by 63) went down to the College of Charleston (selected by 6) in the league semifinals.

Those crazy Leach Kids are tied for first after choosing Northern Iowa and Morehead State, but they shouldn't start counting their winnings yet considering they also went with Northeastern (picked by 6 others), Rider (picked by 2 others), Montana (1 other), and Long Island (nobody else), all of which have already lost. Twelve other entrants are tied with the Kids, while 15 players have only chosen one winner so far and are tied for last.

In probably the first NCAA Division I men's basketball championship of any kind played in the great state of South Dakota, underdog South Dakota State knocked out Oral Roberts (picked by 13 entrants) yesterday. As you might guess, the home team was picked by absolutely nobody in our contest.

In another odd twist of fate, Troy and Sacred Heart both lost today and were both picked by ME Donadio and Pogach, but by nobody else.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

3 more champs

Three more conference champions, and none of them picked by more than half of our contestants. Morehead State (picked by 11) beat Austin Peay (picked by 6) for the OVC crown today. Radford (35) overwhelmed VMI (32) in the Big South, and ETSU (20) slammed Jacksonville (14) in the Atlantic Sun.

Big losers today included Creighton (selected by 88.6% of us, also known as 62 entrants) and Vermont (chosen by 41). We now have a ten-way tie for first place, among John and Luke, Brenner, J Broder, ME Donadio, McAtee-Gattone, P O'Brien, B Peloso, Stanton, Wadden, and 2008 winner Whiteside.

Whiteside antagonist Booth leads a list of 19 entrants who only have one correct conference champion, and that's counting Cornell.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We have Standings

Now that Cornell has won the Ivy League and one ticket has been punched, we have standings that aren't all zeros. (If you want to see those standings, use the link on the right hand side of the page that says, surprisingly, "Standings.") And believe it or not, we do NOT have a 70-way tie.

No, the safe pick may have been Cornell, who at the time the pool was due had a virtual stranglehold on first place in a league that doesn't hold a tournament, but the Big Red's ascension was not a mathematical certainty, and that opened the door for five of our entrants to show they had the guts to trod the path less traveled (Sakowski went with Columbia, and J Jones, J Jones (2), Joe Mc, and Paston all selected Princeton). Due to their daring and courage we now have a 65-way tie for first, and a five-way tie for last. Thanks, guys.

In other news, Morehead State (chosen by 11 entrants) has knocked off Eastern Kentucky (chosen by 5) and UT-Martin (chosen by 42) in the Ohio Valley Conference, and will go up against Austin Peay (chosen by 6 and vanquisher of Murray State, also chosen by 6) for the OVC crown. Radford (35) will battle VMI (32) for the Big South title, leaving only N Donadio, Sakowski, and Rodenstein (who all chose Liberty) in the lurch. In the Atlantic Sun, ETSU (20) faces off against Jacksonville (14), making losers out of the 33 contestants who took Belmont as well as S Adams (Lipscomb), Coach Doc (Lipscomb), and Jr Donadio (Mercer).

As far as we can tell, pretty much everybody else is still alive in every other conference, with the exception of O'Brien, who took Loyola Marymount in the WCC, and the Leach Kids, who took Long Island in the NEC.

And the beat goes on.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What counts as Wild these days

Only seven teams have more than one Wild Card vote:

West Virginia -- 15
Washington -- 13
LSU -- 13
Texas -- 6
Utah -- 5
Arizona -- 3
Florida -- 2

While nine other teams have a single voice of support.

More interesting, as always, are the competitors who try to sneak past the Commissioners a Wild Card that appeared in the AP Top 25 that was linked from both the Rules and the Entry Form.

In the public interest we will name these lawbreakers here, but be warned -- these are potentially dangerous individuals. If you happen to see them don't try to apprehend them yourself; notify the authorities immediately and let armed professionals bring these wrongdoers to justice.

That said, be on the lookout for:

J Broder, who chose #25 Florida State as his Wild Card;
J Jones, who chose #8 Memphis; and
R Perry, who chose #5 Louisville.

And then dial 911.

A relatively safe first day

No big upsets on the opening evening of conference tournaments. In fact, only five entrants have lost so much as a single pick, and all of them chose Eastern Kentucky to win the OVC (N Donadio; J Jones; J Jones (2); Kasprzak; Stanton).

Today marks the beginning of the Atlantic Sun, Patriot, and Sun Belt conference tournaments. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good news for Duke fans

In the 19 years this contest has been running, our contestants have had a favorite for National Champion every single year. And in four of those years, our group of supposedly knowledgeable individuals has actually been correct. That's right, our entrants are on the money in over 21% of their collective championship predictions! Admit it, you're impressed.

We bring this up because this year our contestants have annointed the University of North Carolina as our favorite for National Champion. Which based on our history would make any Duke fan smile.

The breakdown of all our choices for champion are as follows:

UNC -- 27
UConn -- 12
Pitt -- 11
Oklahoma -- 10
Louisville -- 4
Memphis -- 3
Duke -- 2
Clemson -- 1

OK, the contest really begins

It turns out we have 70 entrants, including one sent via e-mail we forgot about at the time of the last post. We're not sure how many are paying entrants, because the deadline for payment is later this week. (NOTE: If your intention has been to be eligible for prizes, please read the previous sentence.)

The OVC, Big South, and Horizon conference tournaments begin tonight, so let's all get out there and root for High Point.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The contest begins...

It looks like 69 entries in this year's contest (and we absolutely refuse to make even a single prurient reference regarding that maligned configuration of digits). We'll run some numbers and post some analyses no later than Monday, so stay tuned.

The first conference tournament games start on Tuesday, so take a deep breath and get ready for the ride.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The time is near

Don't forget, the due date for the contest is TOMORROW, Thursday, February 26, 11:59pm. So get those entries filled out.

If you've forgotten how to find it, the entry form may be found here.

May you be guided by Divine Providence (or Pittsburgh, or Connecticut, or whatever).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 Pre Tourney Information

I have sent out the emails to those of you who played last year with all of the pertinent information. Those of you who are facebook people, there is a group on there as well with all of the information. "2009 Pre Tournament Pool" is what I titled it on there. We're upgrading technologically!!

Good luck all

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here we go again!

Believe it or not, it's time for the 2009 edition of the Pre-NCAA Contest. Even more mind-boggling is it's our 20th Anniversary.

Yes, this will be our 20th contest, dating all the way back to the 20th century! (1990, to be precise.)

So, why not enter this historic contest? Or bring a friend. Or an enemy, for that matter. We don't discriminate.

This year's contest due date is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, at 11:59pm.

The rules may be perused here.

The entry form may be found here.

Have a field day.