Sunday, March 30, 2014


Back in the day, we used to lament that our contestants were rarely able to rise to the success level that would pass a third grade spelling test. At the time we were talking about the 60% that would merit a "D" in an elementary school exam. Of course, times have changed over the 25 years we've run the contest. Grade inflation in the schools has run rampant. These days the kids have to really try to get as low as 60%.

Which makes this year's "achievement" by our entrants that much more impressive, because our group seems to have gone the other way entirely. At every opportunity.

When it came to conference champions, exactly one (1) of us even reached the 50% level, as J Donadio, Jr., alone, managed 16 out of 32. Only seven contestants (including J Donadio, Jr.) got as high as 46.9% (15), the others being Steinhardt, DaLauro Jr, Mad Leach, Marshall, s adams, and T Joseph 2, while ten contestants managed less than 30%: B Brenner (9), S Leach (9), Templeton (9), B Wright (9), Sanders (8), Selarnick (8), Crotts (8), M Pogach (8), M Paston (8), and L Leach (7 -- 21.9%).

We had high hopes that our abysmal conference champ performance was an aberration, that things would improve once we got to the Elite Eight and beyond. Uh, yeah, right. Exactly one (1) playah beat 50% on Elite Eight teams (M Josephs, with 5 of 8). Another 23 of us got exactly 50%, while two contestants (M McAtee and B Wright) guessed just one (1) Elite Eight team correctly (that would be 12.5%), and three (3) contestants (Urban Angels, T Cristinzio, and Lenok 2) got zero (0) Elite Eight teams. Yeah since most of you reading are pretty much the people we're talking about, we feel compelled to point out that last equation works out to 0%.

Nobody beat 50% when it came to predicting Final Four teams, although 12 of us hit the 50% mark exactly. Unfortunately, that "success" mark is dwarfed by the 28 (!) prognosticators who found their way to zero (0) correct Final Four teams. And just in case you've forgotten, that still comes out to 0%.

If you're hoping that we'll make a valiant comeback when it comes to national champion, well, fuggedaboudit. Only 29 of us (28.2%) still have a champion alive. That would include the 28 of us that chose Florida and new leader Baumgarten, who took Wisconsin. None of us were savvy enough to choose Kentucky or Connecticut, meaning that other than those who selected the #1 team in the country on the day the pool was due, only one (1) of us managed to have a champion alive going into the tournament's final weekend. Please don't think us rude if we don't ask you guys for stock tips.

For what it's worth, 69 people took Florida into the Final Four. Nine entrants each took Kentucky (Booth, Brenner, Case, D Kedson, L Leach, M Paston, Pomerantz, R Simon, Steinhardt) and Wisconsin (Baumgarten, Brenner, Jr., N Donadio, J Donadio, Sr., Haklar, T Joseph 2, L Leach, McKillip, L Schlegel). Nobody picked Connecticut.

If Florida wins next Monday, our winners will be McKillip, Steinhardt (who, if she does finish 2nd, will have the distinction of winning some moolah in each of the three years she has entered the contest), and J Donadio, Jr.. If anything else happens, our winners will be Baumgarten, McKillip, and Haklar.

Full standings may once again be found using the link on the right hand side of the page. Tune in during the coming week for the ever-popular Tag Team totals and the 2014 edition of Rivals.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Two down

Two Final Four teams decided tonight -- our top pick Florida (chosen by 69) beat Dayton, and our not-anywhere-close-to-top-pick, Wisconsin (taken by just 9: Baumgarten, Brenner, Jr., N Donadio, J Donadio, Sr., Haklar, T Joseph 2, L Leach, McKillip, L Schlegel), are both in the Final Four and awaiting the other two tomorrow.

J Donadio, Jr. (243 points) still maintains a five point lead over sister L Donadio (238 points), but more importantly trails brother N Donadio (245) and is mired in 7th place. Our new first placeholder is Baumgarten, with 257 points, and is followed by McKillip (253), Haklar (252), M Josephs (252), and Mad Leach (249). Full standings may be found using the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Final Four is a wrap tomorrow. See you then.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Here's a fun little tidbit to think about next time you fill out a pre-NCAA contest entry: in each of the past 7 years, and in 19 out of the last 25 years, at least one team from the previous year's Final Four made it again. For example, last season the surprise of the 2012 Final Four, Louisville, repeated its Final Four appearance and won the national championship for good measure. This year, with Wichita State and Louisville both going down to Kentucky (and with Syracuse losing to Dayton in the 2nd round), the only hope for a repeat Final Four team is Michigan, after the Wolverines beat Tennessee by two.

At least 50 of our entrants were happy with Michigan State's two point victory over Virginia. Kentucky and Michigan were each the darling of 19 contestants, while only Barone and A Cristinzio are toasting 7-seed Connecticut's latest Elite Eight appearance.

J Donadio, Jr. has dropped from the top spot and is currently in 3rd place, stuck on 223 points. M Josephs surged into the lead for the first time since 1998, with 232 points, though Madison Leach (229 points) is hot on his proverbial heels. Urban Angels (114) and B Wright (136) are still queuing up at the end of the line. Full standings may be found using the link on the right-hand side of the page.


Nobody picked Dayton. Only 29 people picked Wisconsin into the Elite Eight, and those entrants are dominating the top of the leader board in the fairly meaningless "halfway" standings (available from the link on the right-hand side of the page). Florida and Arizona were our 1st and 4th favorite Elite Eight choices, so not a lot of drama there.

Perhaps both meaningful and dramatic is the fact that J Donadio, Jr. (who did not pick Wisconsin) continues to cling to the top spot with 223 points, just 3 points ahead of non-paying ESPN Bracketology (220), and only 5 points ahead of his sister L Donadio (218). Baumgarten (217) is also putting some heat on the leaders.

Only 9 contestants have Wisconsin into the Final Four (Baumgarten, Brenner, Jr., N Donadio, J Donadio, Sr., Haklar, T Joseph 2, L Leach, McKillip, L Schlegel). Florida and Arizona are our 1st and 5th favorite Final Four choices. Again, nobody has Dayton.

In tonight's games, 50 contestants chose 4-seed Michigan State while only 25 took 1-seed Virginia. Ten (10) entrants went with Iowa State while only two (2: Barone, A Cristinzio) took a chance on Connecticut. We had 19 people each who liked Michigan and Kentucky into the Elite Eight, while 43 favored Louisville. Tennessee would join Dayton in the Oops Brigade.

There are no wild cards still standing.

Things will sort out a little more tonight. Enjoy the games.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who we thought would be Elite and Final

Here's something moderately interesting. In most years our top choices for champion, Final Four, and Elite Eight are the same (or very close to it). Not so much this year:

Top four choices for champion:

Florida: 28
Arizona: 18
Duke: 15
Syracuse: 14

Top four choices for Final Four:

Florida: 69
Kansas: 59
Syracuse: 51
Duke: 46

Top four choices for Elite Eight:

Florida: 92
Kansas: 82
Syracuse: 82
Arizona: 80

So, Duke was 3rd most popular champion, 4th most popular Final Four choice, and 5th most popular Elite Eight selection. Kansas was 2nd most popular Final Four, tied for 2nd most popular Elite Eight, and only 5th most popular champion. Arizona was 2nd most popular champion, 5th most popular Final Four choice, and 4th most popular Elite Eight team. Syracuse went 4th, tied for 2nd, and 3rd. Of course, three of those four teams have lost to double-digit seeds already, so there's also that.

Correlating our choices to the selection committee's seeding, our top four Final Four choices included a 1-seed, a 2-seed, and two 3-seeds. Our next four most popular Final Four choices included two 1s and two 4s. The last 1-seed went to our tied-for-16th choice for Final Four. Nice to be right on top of things, right?

Here's the full list of all teams chosen for the Elite Eight:

Florida (chosen by 92 out of 103 contestants)
Syracuse (82)
Kansas (82)
Arizona (80)
Duke (75)
Wichita State (65)
Michigan State (50)
Louisville (43)
Villanova (36)
Creighton (36)
Wisconsin (29)
Virginia (25)
Michigan (19)
Kentucky (19)
Saint Louis (16)
Cincinnati (14)
Iowa State (10)
San Diego State (9: Butscher, Chumchucker, L Leach, M Paston, M Peloso, Pomerantz, Steitz, Watson, B Wright)
SMU (5: Case, Gorenstein, Lenok 2, M McAtee, Templeton)
North Carolina (4: DeLauro, Jr., Lenok 2, Rybaltowski, Serri)
Ohio State (4: Baumgarten, B Brenner, S Leach, R Simon)
Gonzaga (3: T Cristinzio, J McAtee, B Wright)
Connecticut (2: Barone, A Cristinzio)
Oklahoma State (2: D Kornfeld, Steitz)
St. Joseph's (2: Crotty, J McAtee)
UCLA (2: Chumchucker, Kovolski)
Boston U (2: Kovolski, Urban Angels)
Chattanooga (Urban Angels)
Houston (Urban Angels)
NC Central (Urban Angels)
UNC-Asheville (Urban Angels)
North Dakota State (Urban Angels)
New Mexico State (Urban Angels)
Delaware (A Cristinzio)
Clemson (A Cristinzio)
Baylor (A Cristinzio)
Harvard (Corey)
Memphis (Rybaltowski)
Xavier (Booth)
Pittsburgh (Isdaner)
Southern Mississippi (T Cristinzio)
Texas (Selarnick)
New Mexico (T Joseph 2)

Here's our full Final Four list:

Florida (69)
Kansas (59)
Syracuse (51)
Duke (46)
Arizona (40)
Wichita State (31)
Michigan State (21)
Louisville (19)
Villanova (11)
Creighton (10)
Kentucky (9: Booth, Brenner, Case, D Kedson, L Leach, M Paston, Pomerantz, R Simon, Steinhardt)
Wisconsin (9: Baumgarten, Brenner, Jr., N Donadio, J Donadio, Sr., Haklar, T Joseph 2, L Leach, McKillip, L Schlegel)
Michigan (8: Barone, Booth, Kovolski, L Leach, S Leach, McKillip, R Wanger, G Wright)
Cincinnati (7: Butscher, T Joseph, M Leach, Moscow, M Peloso, Selarnick, B Wright)
San Diego State (5: Butscher, Chumchucker, M Peloso, Steitz, B Wright)
Saint Louis (4: E Albert, D Kornfeld, E Leach, Watson)
Virginia (4: Babenzien, D Josephs, M Leach, Mahalko)
Iowa State (2: Brenner, R Simon)
St. Joseph's (Crotty)
Baylor (A Cristinzio)
Memphis (Rybaltowski)
UCLA (Urban Angels)
Georgetown (Urban Angels)
Texas San Antonio (Urban Angels)
Texas Southern (Urban Angels)

Yeah, we know. It'll be nice when we actually have more real games to write about.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cool stat

Here's a weird-but-fun stat for people who like weird-but-fun stats: in the past four years before this season, 14 teams seeded 7 or better in the NCAA tournament had been among the 50 slowest-paced teams in the country and also had one of the 150 easiest non-conference schedules (stats from Among those 14 teams, an amazing 12 of them lost early to a team seeded 3 or more spots below them (e.g., 7 losing to a 10 is 3 spots below):

2010 Notre Dame, 6-seed lost to 11-seed in round of 64
2010 Marquette, 6-seed lost to 11-seed in round of 64
2010 Pittsburgh, 3-seed lost to 6-seed in round of 32
2011 Texas A&M, 7-seed lost to 10-seed in round of 64
2011 Cincinnati, 6-seed lost to 3-seed in round of 32**
2011 Wisconsin, 4-seed lost to 8-seed in round of 16
2011 Pittsburgh, 1-seed lost to 8-seed in round of 32
2012 Notre Dame, 7-seed lost to 10-seed in round of 64
2012 Michigan, 4-seed lost to 13-seed in round of 64
2012 Wisconsin, 4-seed lost to 1-seed in round of 16**
2013 Notre Dame, 7-seed lost to 10-seed in round of 64
2013 Kansas State, 4-seed lost to 13-seed in round of 64
2013 Wisconsin, 5-seed lost to 12-seed in round of 64
2013 Georgetown, 2-seed lost to 15-seed in round of 64

** doesn't meet pattern

So, this season we were looking to see what teams met these criteria and the answer was Cincinnati (5-seed lost to 12-seed in round of 64) and Syracuse (3-seed lost to 11-seed in round of 32). That raises the count to 14 early losers out of 16 teams meeting the criteria.

Does it mean anything? Who knows. But next year when you're looking to fill out your Elite Eight or Final Four, you might want to check it out.

Don't say we never did anything for you.

Not so Sweet 16

Another 32 contestants lost their national champion in the tournament's first weekend, thanks to Syracuse (picked by 14); Kansas (12); Wichita State (5: Fitch, Karlsruher, Lenok 2, Marshall, L Schlegel); and Villanova (George B). This brings the total of championless entrants up to 48, a full 47% of our group.

Kansas and Syracuse also cost 164 entrants one of their Elite Eight (82 each) and 110 entrants one of their Final Four (59 Kansas and 51 Syracuse). The 65 and 31 who picked Wichita State (into the Elite Eight and Final Four, respectively) means that only two (2) of our six most popular Elite Eight choices remain (Florida and Arizona), and only one (1) of our four most popular Final Four choices (just Florida). That's pretty lame, even for us.

Villanova (36 E8, 11 F4), Creighton (36 E8, 10 F4), and St. Louis (16 E8, 4 F4: E Albert, D Kornfeld, E Leach, Watson) didn't do anyone any favors, either. Unorthodox Elite Eight choices that teased by winning a game but no more include: North Carolina (chosen by 4: DeLauro, Jr., Lenok 2, Rybaltowski, Serri); Gonzaga (T Cristinzio, J McAtee, B Wright); Harvard (Corey); Memphis (Rybaltowski, who also took Memphis into his Final Four); North Dakota State (Urban Angels); Pitt (Isdaner); and Texas (Selarnick).

Out there Final Four selections that still have a chance include: San Diego State (5: Butscher, Chumchucker, M Peloso, Steitz, B Wright); Virginia (4: Babenzien, D Josephs, M Leach, Mahalko); Iowa State (B Brenner, R Simon); and Baylor (A Cristinzio).

The demise of Wichita State and North Dakota State means the Urban Angels entry has zero (0) Elite Eight teams remaining after the first weekend of the tournament. Since Urban Angels chose four Final Four teams that did not appear anywhere in his/her/their Elite Eight, he/she/they still has/have UCLA alive as a Final Four team.

A decent 39 of our contestants managed to get one Wild Card point: 33 for UNC; 2 (M Kleiman, J Whiteside) for Gonzaga; and 1 each for Harvard (Urban Angels); Mercer (Sciarabba); Pitt (Crotty); and Stephen F. Austin (George B). Fifteen entrants got 6 Wild Card points (with the possibility of more): the 14 who chose UCLA and M Josephs, who took Baylor.

J Donadio, Jr. still sits atop the leaderboard with 203 points, 13 ahead of non-paying entry ESPN Bracketology (190). Another six entrants are within 5 points of second place (S Adams (189); M Leach (189); L Donadio (188); Baumgarten (187); S Smith (185); and C Whiteside (185). Urban Angels (114), B Wright (126), and Steitz (128) trail the field by at least 18 points. Full standings may be found by clicking the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Have Mercer

Duke's loss to Mercer deprives 15 entrants of their Champion, 46 entrants of one of their Final Four and 75 entrants of one of their Elite Eight. Cincinnati going down robbed T Joseph of his champion, 14 people of one of their Elite Eight, and Butscher, T Joseph, M Leach, Moscow, M Peloso, Selarnick, and B Wright of a Final Four team.

That's pretty bad, but not as bad as the five people (Case, Gorenstein, Lenok 2, M McAtee, Templeton) who took NIT participant SMU into the Elite Eight. Others who took uninvited teams into the Elite Eight include Kovolski (Boston U) and T Cristinzio (Southern Mississippi), plus a couple others (to be discussed later). Others among us who took teams into the Elite Eight who didn't make it to the first weekend include Baumgarten, B Brenner, S Leach, R Simon (all four of whom took Ohio State), Crotty, J McAtee (both of whom took St. Joseph's), D Kornfeld, Steitz (both of whom took Oklahoma State), T Joseph 2 (New Mexico), and Booth (Xavier). Crotty also took St. Joe's into his Final Four.

Special mention goes to A Cristinzio, who selected both first round loser Delaware and uninvited Clemson into his Elite Eight. But that isn't even close to the most dazzling performance of the year (maybe the decade, possibly of all time). For those who were near-blinded by Urban Angels' slate of at-large selections, please shield your eyes from the following:

Urban Angels' Elite Eight: Wichita State, Boston U, Chattanooga, Houston, New Mexico State, NC-Ashville, NC Central, and North Dakota State.

Urban Angels' Final Four: UCLA, Texas Southern, Georgetown, and Texas-San Antonio.

OK, you can open your eyes now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


While not strictly related to the contest, one of our commissioners recently authored an article for a Duke web site about a rarely spoken about but key factor that influences which teams make or don't make the Final Four.

Please click the above link if you're interested. We promise it won't lead to an erectile dysfunction ad.

At Larger than Life

NC State won their play-in game tonight and will officially join the 64-team bracket (as will Albany). Which is news to the 97 of us who didn't pick the Wolfpack into the field. Yes, just 6 of us (Babenzien, Hammer, M Pogach, Selig 1, Selig 2, Watson) were wise enough to foresee NC State's inclusion in the field. Similarly, only 7 of our contestants (B Brenner, Chumchucker, Corey, Gorenstein, Sanders, Selig 1, Steitz) envisioned Dayton as an at-large team (as opposed to the location where NC State played tonight), and only 12 had the guts to pick Nebraska.

On the other side, the NIT team with the most votes from our bunch is SMU, in which 97 of our entrants vainly gave their vote of confidence. We also put our misplaced faith in Minnesota (71), St. John's (39), Missouri (39), Florida State (21), and St. Mary's (20). Less loved but no less a waste of a vote were SEC teams Ole Miss (17), Georgia (14), and LSU (11), along with Georgetown (15), Southern Mississippi (11), Toledo (10), UTEP (8), West Virginia (7), and Richmond (7).

Individual recognition goes to Steitz, who selected Ohio U, Princeton, Towson, Bradley, Indiana, Hawaii, and Incarnate Word, all at large, and also spent three of his slots on Horizon League teams (Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Cleveland State).

But in one of the greatest at-large slates ever conceived in this contest, we bow down to Urban Angels, who chose as at-large teams American (got points for that one), Texas Southern (ditto), Auburn, Boston College, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Charleston Southern, Drexel, Jacksonville, James Madison, LaSalle, Loyola Marymount, Notre Dame, Missouri State, Sacramento State, Seattle, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Penn, Indiana State, CS-Fullerton, Houston, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, and Abilene Christian. Just typing that list sends chills up and down our fingers. Hail, Urban Angels, we are not worthy.

More fun tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wild, Wild South

The award for highest seeded wild card goes to the 14 people who chose UCLA, the 4-seed in the South. The runners-up in the same competition were the six people who chose VCU, the 5-seed in the South.

See the trend here? Three of our top six most popular wild cards came from the South Region, along with two other selected wild cards, meaning that one or more persons chose the #4, #5, #7, #9, and #12 Southern seeds as their wild card. And that's pretty impressive, considering that the #1, #2, #3, and #6 seeds in the South were in the forbidden AP Top 25, so nobody could take those teams...

Whoa there, Cowboy, not so fast. We couldn't help noticing that one nefarious entrant attempted to illegally select the 1-seed in the South, Florida, as his wild card, despite the Gators' position as #3 in the AP Top 25 in question. It is our understanding that this particular individual prefers to remain anonymous, and we respect that. Though of course we don't respect it enough not to shout his name out to anybody who'll listen. Thus it is that we hereby out Watson as the scofflaw in question, the wild card criminal who selected an illegal, immoral, and otherwise no-chance-we're-counting-it wild card.

We're not sure which bothers us more, the idea that Watson thought he could sneak an illegal wild card past us or the fact that he took the 3rd ranked team in the country and was not the contestant who chose the most highly ranked wild card. No, that honor goes to A Cristinzio, who tried to slip Arizona by us, #2 in the AP Top 25 at the time the pool was posted.

Not to be outdone by his kin, T Cristinzio also chose an illegal wild card, going with #15 Michigan. Rounding out the Commissioner's Most Wanted list were Crotts, who took #10 Cincinnati, and Parisi who selected #9 Michigan State.

Within the bounds of the law, if not common sense, were four entrants who chose wild cards who didn't even get invited to the NCAA tournament. And while these four probably also wish to remain anonymous, we all know the odds of that are approximately the same as the odds of any of these folks getting any wild card points, right? So, say hello to M Wanger (Florida Gulf Coast), Steitz (Indiana), L Schlegel (St. John's), and Babenzien (Green Bay). For all the good it did them, they might as well have chosen Florida.

Our most popular wild card was North Carolina, the 6-seed in the East. And, for full disclosure's sake, there were seven people who chose Oklahoma, the 5-seed in the West, and thus tied for 2nd place in the wholly fictional competition referred to in the first paragraph of this post.

The full list of legal wild card choices follows here:

North Carolina (taken by 33), E6
New Mexico (15), S7
UCLA (14), S4
Oklahoma (7: Colleran, Hahn, Isdaner, T Joseph 1, T Joseph 2, Serri, G Wright), W5
Oklahoma State (7: Gorenstein, Hammer, D Kedson, L Leach, Lenok, Millan, Rybaltowski), W9
VCU (6: Blane, Case, Corey, Lenok2, M Pogach, Templeton), S5
Gonzaga (2: M Kleiman, J Whiteside), W8
Massachusetts (2: Baumgarten, Steinhardt), M6
Delaware (B Wright), E13
Baylor (M Josephs), W6
Harvard (Urban Angels), E12
Kansas State (Sanders), M9
Pittsburgh (Crotty), S9
St. Joseph's (McKillip), E10
Stephen F. Austin (George B), S12
Mercer (Sciarabba), M14
Florida Gulf Coast (M Wanger), oops
Indiana (Steitz), oops again
St. John's (L Schlegel, oopsies
Green Bay (Babenzien), oopsarama

More fun tomorrow. See ya.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

And they're off...

The bracket's built and the game is on. We'll bring some analysis tomorrow.

For now, congratulations to J Donadio, Jr. for winning the prize for leading at the selection of the field. With 197 points, JDJ holds a 10 point lead over L Donadio and Baumgarten (each having 187 points), and to illustrate just how big that is, there are 19 entrants within 10 points of 2nd.

Our current bottom three are Urban Angels (113), B Wright (126), and Steitz (128). Full standings may be found here or by clicking the Standings link on the right hand side of the page.

Conference Champions are IN

The last five conferences were decided, and the winners were:

Atlantic 10: St. Joseph's (chosen by 4: Booth, Gorenstein, M Josephs, B Whiteside)
ACC: Virginia (chosen by 7: Bracketology, Colleran, Hahn, D Josephs, L Leach, Marshall, Steitz)
Sun Belt: UL-Lafayette (chosen by 6: Baumgarten, B Brenner, Jr., J Donadio, Sr., D Kedson, M Leach, Rybaltowski)
SEC: Florida (chosen by 86)
Big 10: Michigan State (chosen by 64)

J Donadio, Jr. remains in the lead with 98 points, followed by E Albert, L Donadio, and Packman, each with 91. Mired at the bottom is L Leach, with 56, preceded by Sanders, with 58. Full standings may be found here or by using the link on the right hand side of the page.

We'll be back after the field is chosen.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Almost There

Fourteen more conferences awarded their automatic bids:

America East: Albany (chosen by nobody)
Conference USA: Tulsa (chosen by zip)
Big East: Providence (chosen by nada)
Big West: Cal-Poly (selected by zilch), a team with a 10-19 record coming into the Big West tourney
PAC-12: UCLA (liked by 7: S Adams, Corey, J Donadio, Sr., Kovolski, M Leach, Lenok, Lenok 2)
Big 12: Iowa State (picked by 8: Booth, Chumchucker, N Donadio, Gorenstein, M Leach, Quint, Steinhardt, R Wanger)
SWAC: Texas Southern (chosen by 9: Blane, Crotty, J Donadio, Jr., M Josephs, E Leach, P Leach, Serri, Warner, J Whiteside)
MAC: Western Michigan (taken by 20)
Mountain West: New Mexico (selected by 44)
WAC: New Mexico State (favored by 76)
AAC: Louisville (liked by 75)
MEAC: NC Central (chosen by 80)
Big Sky: Weber State (honored by 90)
Southland: Stephen F. Austin (envisioned by 97)

Five more conferences will be decided tomorrow:

Atlantic 10: VCU (17) vs. St. Joseph's (4: Booth, Gorenstein, M Josephs, B Whiteside)
ACC: Duke (46) vs. Virginia (7: Bracketology, Colleran, Hahn, D Josephs, L Leach, Marshall, Steitz)
Big 10: Michigan State (64) vs. Michigan (13)
SEC: Florida (86) vs. Kentucky (17)
Sun Belt: Georgia State (71) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6: Baumgarten, B Brenner, Jr., J Donadio, Sr., D Kedson, M Leach, Rybaltowski)

J Donadio, Jr. remains in first place, with 82 points, followed closely by E Albert, L Donadio, and Packman, each with 77, and S Adams, DaLaura, Jr., and Dye, each with 74. At the bottom of the standings stands (or, we suppose, "sits" might be more apropos, or maybe "lies prone with his hands covering his face in shame") L Leach, with 40 points, fewer than half the leader. Glad that the previous sentence wasn't about them are Steitz, Sanders, and B Brenner, Jr., with 44 each, and B Brenner and B Wright, with 47. Full standings may be found by clicking on the "Standings" link on the right hand side of the page.

Just one more day until the bracket is announced. Get a good night's sleep.

Friday, March 14, 2014

You Chose... Poorly

So far, 13 conference champions have been decided. One was Harvard in the Ivy -- a league with no conference tournament -- that had a two game lead with three games to play the day the pool was due (though that didn't stop Fitch, L Leach, S Leach, and M Paston from picking Yale), leaving 12 conferences with a champion we didn't know in advance.

Of those, the Big South didn't have a favorite among our entrants, although the team with the most votes (Coastal Carolina, with 27) did win the conference championship. Still, with only 27 out of 103 entrants picking Coastal, it's hard to say we did well as a group. Here's how our most popular picks fared in the other eleven conferences:

Atlantic Sun: Mercer (65) won the conference
Colonial: Delaware (67) won the conference
Summit: North Dakota State (84) won the conference
WCC: Gonzaga (85) won the conference
MVC: Wichita State (99) won the conference
MAAC: Iona (71) -- oops...
Patriot: Boston U (77) -- oops...
Southern: Davidson (84) -- oops...
OVC: Belmont (85) -- oops...
Northeast: Robert Morris (87) -- oops...
Horizon: Green Bay (89) -- oops...

That's right, so far our overwhelming favorite has won a grand total of 5 out of 11 conferences (45.4%)(not counting leagues in which we had no favorite or were decided before we cast our votes). The other six? Well, oops.

But there are a bunch more conference champions to be decided, so maybe we'll make a comeback, right? Right?

Not so much.

Another 14 conferences crown champions tomorrow. But even before the final's been played, we've lost:

Conference USA: Southern Mississippi (50) -- oops...
SWAC: Southern (47) -- ineligible -- AND Alabama State (44) -- oops...
Big West: Cal-Santa Barbara (60) -- a really big oops, as Cal-SB lost in its first conference tournament game to 7th seeded Cal-Poly by a score of 69-38...
America East: Vermont (78) -- oops...
Big 12: Kansas (88) -- oops...
Atlantic 10 (final on Sunday): St. Louis (75) -- oops...

The other nine conferences pit our favorite against (in most cases) underdogs so far under they've been classified as a different species:

AAC: Louisville (75) vs. Connecticut (0)
Big East: Creighton (62) vs. Providence (0)
Big Sky: Weber State (90) vs. North Dakota (2: Anania, Hammer)
MAC: Toledo (62) vs. Western Michigan (20)
MEAC: NCCU (80) vs. Morgan State (0)
Mountain West: San Diego State (59) vs. New Mexico (44) or Boise State (0) [late game]
PAC-12: Arizona (91) vs. UCLA (7: S Adams, Corey, J Donadio, Sr., Kovolski, M Leach, Lenok, Lenok 2)
Southland: Stephen F. Austin (97) vs. Sam Houston State (6: J Donadio, Sr., Isdaner, L Leach, Sanders, Steitz, B Wright)
WAC: New Mexico State (76) vs. Idaho (0)

The following face off in the conferences with no remaining favorite:

America East: Stony Brook (25) vs. Albany (0)
Big 12: Iowa State (8: Booth, Chumchucker, N Donadio, Gorenstein, M Leach, Quint, Steinhardt, R Wanger) vs. Baylor (1: Rybaltowski)
Big West: Cal Poly (0) vs. Long Beach State (4: Baumgarten, B Brenner, E Leach, Steinhardt) OR CS-Northridge (0) [late game]
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech (24) vs. Tulsa (0)
SWAC: Texas Southern (9: Blane, Crotty, J Donadio, Jr., M Josephs, E Leach, P Leach, Serri, Warner, J Whiteside) vs. Prairie View A&M (0)

More on who loses, tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Pledge Allegiance...

We are shocked, shocked I tell you, that only 17 true Patriots (or at least Patriot League followers) decided to pledge their allegiance to American, a team that crushed conference favorite Boston U (taken by 77) by a score of 55-36.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mary Packed a Little Punch

After yesterday's bullying and pigtail-pulling, just one "Mary" remained. But this Mary, Mount Saint Mary's, sure packed a wallop, kicking the crap out of Bob Morris (and the 87 entrants who went with Mr. Robert to win the Northeast Conference) by a score of 88 to 71. Somewhere, Templeton is smiling.

In the Horizon, the team that made Milwaukee fam... well, let's just say Milwaukee made Wright State the wrong pick. Not that any of our contestants picked either team. Gonzaga (chosen by 85) took care of business against BYU (selected by 13) in the WCC final. And in the Summit League, the North Dakota State Bison (picked by 84) overcame both IPFW (taken by 12) and IPFW's cooler nickname (the Mastodons).

Thanks to his new girlfriend, Templeton is out of the cellar, which now belongs exclusively to L Leach, with 13 points, 5 points behind B Brenner, B Brenner, Jr., and M McAtee, all with 18. Still in first are J Donadio, Jr. and P Ripley, with 40 points, just ahead of E Albert (38) and the 11 teams tied with 35. Full standings may be found using the link on the right-hand side of the page.

The only bid up for grabs tomorrow is in the Patriot League, where a couple of U's (Boston U. (chosen by 77) and American U. (taken by 17)) look for a W.

See you then.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mary Had a Little Loss

Three more bids were decided today, and the three title games were decided by a combined seven (7) points. In the Colonial, the Blue Hens of Delaware (chosen by 67 of us) picked on a school with "Mary" in its name (in this case William & Mary, taken by only 3 of us), and won by the thinnest of margins, 75-74. In the MAAC, Manhattan (selected by 19) turned the tables and sank Iona (liked by 71), winning 71-68. And in the SoCon (a.k.a., the Southern Conference), Wofford (picked by E Albert, A Cristinzio, J Donadio, Jr., L Leach, and A Sanders) outlasted Western Carolina (picked by nobody), by the score of 56-53.

Tomorrow night, four more bids will be announced, including: the Summit League champion, which might be North Dakota State (with 84 proponents) or mabye IPFW (12); the WCC champion, which'll either be Gonzaga (85) -- who tonight beat up another school with "Mary" in its name (in this case, St. Mary's, chosen by Steitz, D Kornfeld, and A Sanders) -- or possibly the winner of tonight's late game between BYU (13) and San Francisco (2); the Horizon League champ, which whether it's Milwaukee or Wright State is guaranteed to be a team chosen by nobody we know; and the Northeast Conference champion, which could be Robert Morris (87), or conceivably could be yet another school with "Mary" in it's name, in this case Mount Saint Mary's, chosen by Templeton alone.

Templeton really could use a Mt. St. Mary's win, because right now he's mired in an eight-way tie for 96th to 103rd place (i.e., dead last), along with B Brenner, Fitch, L Leach, S Leach, Selby, M McAtee, and commissioner D Kedson, all with a measly 10 points. J Donadio, Jr. and P Ripley currently share the top spot, with 30 points.

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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Down Goes Quinnipiac!

In news that saddens commissioners everywhere, this is the last time this season we can legitimately type the word "Quinnipiac," as the Mighty Quinns failed in their attempt to sink Manhattan in the MAAC. We give heartfelt thanks to Anania, Barone, B Brenner, Jr., E Leach, M Leach, M Peloso, and K Ripley whose choice of the Quinnsters kept the dream alive as long as it was. Manhattan (taken by 19) will attempt to finish the job tomorrow against Iona (favored by 71).

In news that saddens M Pogach, Winthrop's musical performance ended abruptly, as the little freckle-faced kid lost to Coastal Carolina (chosen by 27) in the Big South championship. In news eliciting a yawn from most contest observers, undefeated Wichita State (liked by 99) rolled over undermanned Indiana State (selected by 4) to win the MVC. In other news, Mercer (chosen by 65) earned the right to play in its first NCAA tournament since five years before we ran our first Pre-NCAA Contest, by beating Florida Gulf Coast (relied upon by 36) in the Atlantic Sun.

Delaware (chosen by 67) and William & Mary (relied upon by Urban Angels, Booth, and L Leach) advanced to the Colonial championship game. Albany (guessed by nobody) upset Vermont (foolishly favored by 78) and will face Stony Brook (selected by 25) in the America East final. Similarly, Western Carolina (cunningly connected by no one) knocked off Davidson (mistakenly taken by 84) to earn the spot opposite Wofford (chosen by 5: E Albert; A Cristinzio; J Donadio, Jr.; L Leach; and A Sanders) in the SoCon championship.

With five teams having earned bids, we now have a 17-way tie for first, with 20 points each, while at the bottom with 5 points stand Fitch, L Leach, and S Leach.

Championship Week, the sequel, starts tomorrow. See you then.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

First Crimson

The team that won the imaginary prize for first team into the Dance was Harvard. The Crimson were favored by 99 of us, while Fitch, L Leach, S Leach, and M Paston unwisely went with Yale. Hot on Harvard's heels was Eastern Kentucky, chosen only by J Donadio, Jr., after the Colonels whupped heavy favorite Belmont (selected by 85).

Three more conferences will be decided tomorrow. In the fragmented Big South, Winthrop (chosen only by M Pogach) will take a break from the Music Man to battle Coastal Carolina (liked by 27). In the Atlantic Sun, relative heavyweight Mercer (taken by 65) will square off with Florida Gulf Coast (36). And in the MVC, Wichita State (chosen by 99) will put its undefeated season on the line against Indiana State (chosen by Gorenstein, M Josephs, Parisi, and Steitz).

The Horizon League is also down to two finalists, but nobody in our contest thought enough to pick either one of them. Milwaukee (chosen by, as we said, nobody) beat Green Bay (chosen by almost everybody -- 89), and Wright State (also chosen by, you guessed it, nobody) slid by Cleveland State (chosen by 9). The title game will be held on Tuesday, March 11th, same day as the Northeast Conference championship -- between Robert Morris (taken by 87) and Mount Saint Mary's (taken by Templeton only) -- and the Patriot League championship -- between Boston U (selected by 77) and American (selected by 17).

Five more conferences (America East, Colonial, MAAC, Southern, and West Coast Conference) are down to their final four, with the biggest news being that commissioners' perennial favorite Quinnipiac is still alive and was chosen by seven (7) entrants.

In the standings, we have a 98-way tie for second place, with 5 points. On the strength of his pick of Eastern Kentucky, J Donadio, Jr. sits in first with 10 points, and Fitch, L Leach, S Leach, and M Paston inhabit the cellar with a combined total of zero (0) points.

Tune in tomorrow...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

First Blood

Eight conferences have started their tournaments, so it's time for our ever popular feature, "Who Already Screwed Up."

Tonight in the Atlantic Sun, everybody's darling from last season -- Florida Gulf Coast (chosen by 36) -- remained alive by outscoring hardly anybody's darling East Tennessee State (chosen by just 2, M Josephs and L Leach). Everyone else (65 in all) likes Mercer in this conference.

Last night, in the Northeast Conference and the Patriot League, three teams chosen by one or more of our contestants lost by a combined three points. That's right all three of these games were decided by a single point. The biggest disappointment for our entrants came in the Northeast, when St. Francis PA (selected by nobody) edged Bryant (selected by 11: Urban Angels, George B, Fitch, Corey, Gorenstein, Moscow, Pomerantz 1, Pomerantz 2, Steitz, Watson, and B Wright), by the score of 55-54. In some ways more interesting was the mano a mano matchup between two teams picked by a sole entrant, in which Templeton's Mt. St. Mary's topped D Kornfeld's St. Francis NY by a score of 72-71. The big favorite in the Northeast is Robert Morris (chosen by 87).

In another 72-71 contest, Army (taken by nobody) beat Bucknell (taken by B Brenner, L Leach, M Paston, K Ripley) in the Patriot League. The big favorite here is Boston University (selected by 77), followed by American (17).

There is no favorite in the Big South, at least not according to our contestants. Top vote-getters in the conference are Coastal Carolina (27), VMI (27), and High Point (26), but in what may be a first, the votes are scattered among eight (8) teams, including UNC-Ashville (10), Charleston Southern (3), Radford (3), and Winthrop (1). Oddly, the only team among the top eight seeds in this tournament that wasn't chosen by anybody (Campbell) was the one seed that lost, meaning even though we chose eight different teams, everyone's Big South champ is still alive at the moment. Even more oddly, the Big South has split itself into two divisions and named them "North" and "South," meaning there's a Big South, North and a Big South, South.

None of our entrants have picked an eliminated team in the Horizon, MVC, OVC, or WCC tournaments. Yet.

Tune in for more fun tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Champs or Chumps?

Twenty-four years in a row. Yes, twenty-four times, the commissioners have laboriously sifted through many and various entries to determine the single team our contestants have anointed as the squad most likely to star in the slo-mo version of "One Shining Moment" and come away with the ever-coveted NCAA championship trophy. We view it as an honor, a twenty-four (and counting) times-in-a-lifetime opportunity to glimpse the inner workings of the serious college basketball fan's mind as he (or she) stares into the future and gives his (or her) informed opinion as to which college team is best in the land.

What measure or system do our contestants use? What magic is employed to ferret out the answer that casual and intense fans alike, all over the nation, are striving to find? That secret is buried deep inside our collective psyche, impossible for mere commissioners to tell.

What we can tell is how often our contestants have been right. And that would be six. You heard right. Our entrants' favorite champion has actually won the tournament only six times in 24 seasons. An astonishing success rate of 25%, a batting average that in baseball would get you demoted to Des Moines in fairly short order.

Which is why a lot of people in Gainesville are shaking right now. Because this year, our contestants have placed their faith in the Florida Gators, our most popular champion with 28 votes. We've already started composing our condolence letter.

Here's the full breakdown of our contestants' choices for champion:

Florida: 28
Arizona: 18
Duke: 15
Syracuse: 14
Kansas: 12
Michigan State: 6 (E Albert, Haklar, Hammer, T Joseph 2, M Josephs, M Leach)
Wichita State: 5 (Fitch, Karlsruher, Lenok 2, Marshall, L Schlegel)
Wisconsin: 1 (Baumgarten)
Villanova: 1 (George B)
Michigan: 1 (L Leach)
Cincinnati: 1 (T Joseph 1)
Baylor: 1 (A Cristinzio)

No love for current #5 in the country Virginia but at least bubble team Baylor got on the list.

Have a great day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sealed With A...

Mere hours before Pre-NCAA contest entries were due, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), in conjunction with the NCAA, inexplicably changed conference rules to let four teams that were ineligible to compete in the NCAA tournament nevertheless compete in the SWAC tournament. For whatever reason, SWAC officials declined to contact our contest commissioners to give us a heads up.

Perhaps predictably, the part of this news that surprised many of our contestants was not that these four ineligible teams, including SWAC regular season champion Southern University, would be allowed to compete in the SWAC tournament, but rather that the four teams were ineligible in the first place.

Admittedly, we indulged in a bit of hyperbole when we suggested in a previous post that more than half our entrants foolishly chose an ineligible team to win the SWAC -- that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? In fact it was only 46% of our contestants (including at least one commissioner) who picked Southern to represent the SWAC in the NCAA tournament. So you see, we're not as dumb as some think we are.

The NCAA, in its collective wisdom, has declared that the SWAC's NCAA tournament representative will be the furthest-reaching eligible team (taking the higher-seeded team in the case of a tie). And if it's good enough for the NCAA, then it's good enough for us. So the SWAC team that participates in the NCAA Tournament will be the team for which we award the 5 points for SWAC champion.

Anyone who disagrees with the above decision is welcome to lodge an official protest with the commissioners. And to show how magnanimous we are, we'll even hold off on denying any such protest until after it is made.

Have a great day.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Sparkle of Silver

It's the contest's Silver Anniversary, and we're off to a sparkling start.

We have over 100 entries for the first time since 2002, and almost half of those entries include a winner in the SWAC that's actually eligible to make the NCAA tournament! Good times, right?

More details later. It's finally March and the good times will keep on rolling.