Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thyme wounds all Heels

Kind of a fizzle of an ending to a Tournament filled with fireworks. But somebody had to win, and this year it's the University of North Carolina.

Much more importantly, here are the winners of our contest:

First place: Naumgarten (339)
Second place: Sciarabba (320)
Third place: S Adams (317)

We believe it's the first time somebody who was unable to spell his own name has won the contest. At the bottom of the standings, Booth (175) stayed out of last place, finishing three points ahead of Myers (172).

Combining those above (well, not Booth or Myers) with R Wanger, who won the prize for being in first place immediately after selection of the field, and we have our winners. Congratulations, all.

See you next year.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A rasher of Rivals

The parent/child relationship is a complicated one, fraught with debates over who knows best. Over the course of life, the winner of those debates tends to slide from one side to the other, much to the chagrin of whichever side is on the losing end.

This year, we had eleven instances of framing the debate in quantitative terms, and parents took eight (73%): Coach Doc (291) over S Adams (277); D Josephs (265) over M Josephs (242); R Schlegel (272) over L Schlegel (262); P Leach (269) over both Sam Leach (245) and Mad Leach (245); R Wanger (301) over both M Wanger (255) and K Ripley (289); and C Whiteside (262) over J Whiteside (204) (although C Whiteside also lost to daughter B Whiteside (280)). The only parents who didn't taste victory this season were longtime entrants J McAtee (229) and E Leach (259), who despite both playing in every Pre-NCAA contest (or almost every contest -- we didn't actually go back and re-check every season), still couldn't beat out sons M McAtee (260), and P Leach (269), respectively. We'd also note that depending on tonight's result, either S Adams (UNC) or K Ripley (Gonzaga) will come out ahead of her Dad.

In a year where possibly all three winners could be female, it's not surprising that it's the Year of the Sister. Gonzaga or not, K Ripley (289) bested brother M Wanger (255). And B Whiteside (280), despite claiming to have "completed this pool in 5 minutes on Sunday because I wanted to go outside and play," trounced her brother J Whiteside (204), as well as her father. B Whiteside went further in her claims, going on to say that despite spending just a few minutes on her selections, she'd "still do better than most of the contestants," and she did, currently standing in a tie for 15th place. J Whiteside noted that while he might lose this round, he's still seven minutes older and six inches taller. In our only instance of two sisters competing against each other, the competition between Sam Leach (245) and Madison Leach (245) naturally ended in a tie.

Also not surprising is the dominance wives displayed over husbands this year: Da Dye (292) over Do Dye (265); K Sullivan (259) over D'Zuro (251); and the ubiquitous K Ripley (289) over P Ripley (224). The only husband who can apparently claim the pants is B Peloso (288), who trounced his Duke-loving wife M Peloso (213), just one year after losing to his spouse by 50+ points.

B Peloso's fierce rivalry with Sullivan inspired D'Zuro's impassioned plea that, "Even though Democrats and Republicans cannot get along, I fervently hope that Kate Sullivan and Bobby Peloso may achieve pool peace in our lifetime." Well, we hope D'Zuro lives a little longer, because we suspect the trash talk will only escalate after either B Peloso completes his 288 to 259 thrashing of his arch-rival (if UNC wins) or Sullivan ekes out a comeback for the ages (299 to 288, if Gonzaga wins).

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of his own rivalry with Millan, Karlsruher guaranteed victory over the misspelled Italian city. What's more, he backed it up, 259 to 239. Millan (239), in turn, noted that mutual friends T Joseph (254) and Brenner (250) "better step it up this year," and they did, both finishing ahead of him (though neither of them bested Karlsruher (259)). In another group of supposed buddies, Sciarabba (280) easily dispatched Gorenstein (237) and Serri (201).

M Wanger (255) invited two amigos from the Dominican Republic, Tharp (230) and Avila (215), then had the bad form to beat them both. Among readers of DBR, Biebel (248, 227, and 212) finished both ahead of and behind D Kedson (244) and Rubinson (226). Among multiple-entry contestants who have trouble spelling their own names, Naumgarten (299) beat out Baumgarten (287).

Among minor children, B Whiteside (280) took the competition over L Schlegel (262), Mad Leach (245), Sam Leach (245), and J Whiteside (204). Among pets, L Leach (269) put down Surprise Leach (222), though neither beast could best their owner (P Leach (269)).

Of course, we saved the most bitter rivalry until last. C Whiteside (262) may have been unable to beat out his 14-year old daughter, but he had absolutely no problem this year with Booth (175). C Whiteside also slipped past workplace rival Butscher (260). For her part, Booth set her sights on another rival, Mantz, who foiled her efforts neatly by neglecting to enter the contest.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tag Team topography

Back in the day, the Nova Gang was the original Tag Team in this contest, consistently competitive for the Tag Team title as well as having the most team members by far. We haven't heard from them for a long time but, perhaps emboldened by their namesake's national championship last season, the Gang is back.

Sort of. the Original Nova Gang's average score of 214.67 is so bad, it's more than 30 points behind the Leach Gang (244.78), and almost 17 points worse than the second-worst Tag Team (the Duke-centric DBR, which, like their favorite team, fizzled out with just a 231.40 average).

The once-proud team of Whiteside and his Enemies (236.20) also finished behind the Leaches, as did those associated with Urban Engineering (236.0), and the group who at one time lived in 12A (239.33).

But if you've gotten the idea that the Leach Gang had a particularly good year, we need to set the record straight. The Leaches weren't anywhere near the top of the Tag Team tussle. No, the competition for top Team was extremely competitive, with three Teams within a point of each other. And the winner is... the inexplicably named Anchor Down (253.0), who beat the D'Zurans (252.75) by a quarter of a point, and the Ripley Believe it or Nots (252.33) by two-thirds of a point.

Among favorite colleges (with at least two entrants rooting for them), we have an odd trend: The teams with the highest averages didn't come close to making the NCAA Tournament. Uninvited GW (293.0) and Temple (272.75) led the way, followed by Division III Ursinus (267.0) and left-out Syracuse (251.75). Duke (236.57) and Villanova (244.0) did about as well as you'd expect after their early Tourney exits. Penn State fans (240.33) got the double-whammy of both failing to make the Dance and doing poorly in the contest.

We had a contingent this year who played from the Dominican Republic (233.33), but perhaps something got lost in translation, because the only region they beat was the Midwest (229.0). Both Pittsburgh suburbs (269.33) and New York suburbs (263.75) whupped Philadelphia suburbs (252.78), though within the city limits, Philadelphia (260.83) handled New York (239.25). Those West of the Rockies (261.60) showed those South of the Mason-Dixon Line (246.80) where it's at. Among states from which multiple contestants hail, Pennsylvania (254.51) won bragging rights over New York (248.50), California (246.00), and Illinois (229.00).

In today's world it may be tough to have faith in humanity, but know at least that humans (252.45) are more deserving than lawyers (252.29). Dogs (245.50) are just getting scraps this year.

In a development that should surprise absolutely nobody, Females (257.0) came out on top of males (252.13). Once again confirming one of our favoriate old adages, children (247.20) should be seen but not seen gambling.

This year's best pool-pickin' name is Bob (269.50), who won that distinction in a healthy competition over John/Jon (265.50), David (261.67), Marc (257.00), and Mike (257.50). Less healthy were Jeff (248.50), Rick (245.50), and Kevin (243.00). If you're calling yourself Matt (235.50) or George (233.00), you don't know Jack (231.50).

Those in the computer field (268.0) and practicing attorneys (265.33) apparently both know how to rig things, albeit in different ways. Those in accounting and finance (256.27) barely beat corporate executives (256.00). Retired people (253.25) perhaps retired for a reason, while students (249.17) can maybe teach teachers (225.25) a thing or two. If you're involved in the media (245.00), in sales (235.33), or in engineering (221.25), keep your day job.

What does it say when self-professed afterlife mediums (261.00) know a lot more than the deceased (200.00) from whom they purportedly get their information? Probably less than the fact that the average contestant (252.25) significantly outscored the average commissioner (243.00).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chicks dig Zags

We know that one of four teams will be the 2017 NCAA Champion. So we have four scenarios to discuss:

Scenario 1: "Winnah, winnah, Duck dinnah"

If Oregon wins it all, here's who our winners will be:

(1) R Schlegel (312)
(2)(tie) L Leach (309)
(2)(tie) P Leach (309)

Out of the money: R Wanger (301)

Scenario 2: "If a team wins the national championship, and nobody picked them, does it still make a sound?"

If South Carolina takes the title, as predicted by nobody in our contest, here's who our winners will be:

(1) R Wanger (301)
(2) Naumgarten (299)
(3) J Donadio (297)

Out of the money: Da Dye (292); Harlan (292)

Scenario 3: "If the shoe fits"

Evidence suggests that Naumgarten is actually long-time entrant Baumgarten, who apparently (unintentionally) misspelled his own name. Fitting, if the national champion turns out to be a school that committed the worst academic fraud in the history of the NCAA, and still hasn't been punished. So if UNC steals the championship, here's who our winners will be:

(1) Naumgarten (339)
(2) Sciarabba (320)
(3) S Adams (317)

Out of the money: Feinblatt (303)

Scenario 4: "Chicks dig Zags"

If Gonzaga gets two more wins, our top three positions will all be held by female contestants. Perhaps not surprising, but certainly a historic first in a contest that hasn't seen such an event in 28 years. Those three dominant pool-pickers will be:

(1) Harlan (332)
(2) Burch (330)
(3) K Ripley (329)

Out of the money (and male): Marshall (320)

NOTE that we haven't checked to make sure that all the winners listed above actually paid for the contest. To the extent that someone didn't pay, they will certainly be allowed bragging rights, but all prizewinners will come from among the ranks of the paid-in-full.

Six, Three, and other levels of competence

The Elite Eight contained three #1 seeds, a #2 seed, and a #3 seed. The Final Four contains two #1s and a #3. The number of our contestants who got better than five Elite Eight teams correctly can be counted on one finger: B Peloso got 6 of 8. But don't worry, twice as many of us guessed better than half the Final Four: Naumgarten and Baum, both with 3 of 4.

There were 19 contestants who got five of Eight, 28 who got four of Eight, and 20 who got just three of Eight. Five excellent entrants managed just two (2) correct Elite Eight teams: Avila, R Simon, Bud Acchione, Beibel 3, and Booth. Two contestants accurately selected exactly one (1) of the Eight: Serri and Myers.

For the Final Four, despite two #1s in the mix, 59% of us correctly picked less than half the participating teams. We had 29 pool-pickers who got exactly half (2), while 35 contestants came up with one (1) of the Four, and nine (9) entrants didn't get any (0) right at all: Biebel 3, Booth, Myers, P Ripley, M Pogach, J Whiteside, Su Leach, M Peloso, and Serri.

Moving forward, while 24 of us (32%) lost their national champion in the first weekend, only 23 of us (30.7%) have a national champion that's still playing. Nine took UNC, nine took Gonzaga, and five (Brindisi, Karlsruher, L Leach, P Leach, R Schlegel) liked Oregon. Poor little South Carolina had the confidence of nobody in our contest, though thinking about it, that probably makes the Gamecocks feel pretty good about their chances.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cocks and Heels

The South Carolina Gamecocks (picked by nobody in our contest) made it three teams that hadn't been to the Final Four in the past 75 years. The fourth team (UNC Tar Heels, picked by 46), after beating Kentucky on a last-second shot, got there for the second straight season.

On the strength of Luke Maye's heroics, R Wanger jumped back into the lead, with 301 points. Right behind are Naumgarten (299), J Donadio (297), Dale Dye (292), and Harlan (292). Booth (175) will finish the contest three (3) points ahead of Myers (172). Full standings may be found here and by using the link on the right-hand side of the page.

We'll have posts this week on who might win the contest, Final Four and Elite Eight performance, and of course, Tag Teams and Rivals. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


The last time Oregon made the Final Four, World War II hadn't started yet. And yet, 27 of us correctly picked the Ducks into the Final Four. The last time Gonzaga made the Final Four was never, but that didn't stop 26 of us from picking the triumphant Zags. Our favorite Final Four pick, Kansas (54 votes), didn't make it, however, making this the 22nd year out of 28 that our top pick for champion (16 of us called Kansas our champ) failed to make it to the summit.

Our new leader, K Ripley tops the charts with 289 points, one point ahead of B Peloso (288) and seven points ahead of her father, R Wanger (281). Breathing down R Wanger's neck for third place are Marshall (280) and Naumgarten (279). Full standings may be found here or by clicking the Standings link on the right-hand side of the page.

Two more teams punching their tickets tomorrow.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Buzzah Beatah

After Florida's miracle shot at the buzzer in OT, we have three SEC teams in the Elite Eight. Raise your hand if you predicted that. OK, put your hand down, nobody in our contest predicted that. Only six entrants picked as many as two: J Broder, Coach Doc, Harlan, Mash Leach, B Peloso, R Wanger. Other than Kentucky (chosen by 36) and Florida (taken by 11), no SEC team sniffed as much as a wildcard selection.

Of our top eight selections for Elite Eight, four actually made it: Kansas (70), UNC (64), Gonzaga (53) and Oregon (50). South Carolina and Xavier had a combined one (1) vote (Rubinson, who went with Xavier).

Our new leader is B Peloso, with 268 points, followed by R Wanger (261) and Marshall (260). Within striking distance are S Adams and J Donadio, both with 257, while Da Dye, Harlan, R Schlegel, Coach Doc, Burch, and K Ripley are also within a Final Four pick of the top. Booth (175) remains three points ahead of Myers (172) in the struggle to stay out of the cellar.

Full standings may be seen by employing the Standings link on the right-hand side of the page.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


A good night of basketball, with three of the four games going down to the last possession. Lots of big news, too, as Arizona tumbles but Oregon and Gonzaga survive, Rubinson looks like a genius for picking 11th-seeded Xavier into the Elite Eight, Booth climbs out of last place (now tied with Bud Acchione with 175 points, 3 points ahead of Myers), and with Michigan falling by a single point, Pogach loses his dream of getting five Final Four teams.

In the most meaningless standings of the year, Marshall has leapt into the lead with 240 points, just ahead of B Peloso (238), S Adams (237), J Donadio (237), Do Dye (235), and D Josephs (235).

More fun tomorrow.

Eight, Four, and other integers

With 75 contestants and eight Elite Eight picks apiece, there were 600 Elite Eight selections made in this year's contest. A whopping 179 of those selections (29.8%) didn't make it through the tournament's first weekend. Three of our top ten choices have already bitten the proverbial dust (Villanova, chosen as Elite by 67 entrants, Louisville, taken by 49, and Duke, picked by 27).

Booth was among several who had the bad karma to choose all three of the fallen giants (Nova, Ville, and Duke) in her Elite Eight, but she also inspired awe by going with Creighton, Wichita State, and Wisconsin as three of the last eight teams standing. At least Wisconsin is still breathing. Rubinson should perhaps be commended for being the only entrant to favor 11th seeded, and still alive, Xavier into the Elite Eight. Myers and Packman win the prize for choosing a team (California) into the Elite Eight that lost to Cal-State-Bakersfield in the first round of the NIT.

Full list of Elite Eight choices (by team) is as follows:

Kansas (70)
Villanova (67)
North Carolina (64)
Gonzaga (53)
Oregon (50)
UCLA (43)
Arizona (37)
Kentucky (36)
Duke (27)
Baylor (20)
West Virginia (16)
Florida (11)
Florida State (10)
Wisconsin (9)
Butler (8)
Virginia (8)
SMU (4: L Leach, Mad Leach, M Rybaltowski, Serri)
Cincinnati (3: J McAtee, Quint, Templeton)
Purdue (3: M Josephs, Mad Leach, J Whiteside)
Wichita State (2: Booth, L Schlegel)
California (2: Myers, Packman)
Creighton (Booth)
Michigan State (Bud Acchione)
Xavier (Rubinson)
Northwestern (R Simon)
Notre Dame (Serri)
Oklahoma State (Warner)
St. Mary's (J McAtee)
Maryland (Avila)

Ten contestants still have seven Elite Eight teams still playing: Marshall, Bill Acchione, P Ripley, Doug Dye, Blane, Brenner, B Whiteside, J Broder, standings leader R Wanger and M Pogach (who has six alive Elite Eight teams plus Michigan as his wildcard). 35 entrants have six active Elite Eight teams, and 24 have five. At the bottom of the continuum, four entrants have just four possible Elite Eight contenders: M Rybaltowski, Bud Acchione, R Simon, Templeton; and Serri joints Booth with only three.

Of the 300 Final Four selections made in our contest, 77 proved worthless (25.7%), with the vast majority of those assigned to Villanova (42), Louisville (18), and Duke (11). Gutsy picks that are working out so far include Baylor (Sam Leach, Su Leach, Myers, M Peloso, M Pogach), West Virginia (Beibel 2, Biebel 3, Marshall, Rubinson), Wisconsin (Booth, Myers), Florida (Mash Leach, B Peloso), and Butler (Feinblatt, P Ripley).

Full list of Elite Four choices (by team) is as follows:

Kansas (54)
North Carolina (46)
Villanova (42)
Oregon (27)
Gonzaga (26)
UCLA (25)
Arizona (17)
Kentucky (13)
Duke (11)
Baylor (5: Sam Leach, Su Leach, Myers, M Peloso, M Pogach)
West Virginia (4: Beibel 2, Biebel 3, Marshall, Rubinson)
Florida (2: Mash Leach, B Peloso)
Florida State (2: Sam Leach, Sciarabba)
Wisconsin (2: Booth, Myers)
Butler (2: Feinblatt, P Ripley)
Virginia (2: R Simon, R Wanger)
Wichita State (Booth)
Cincinnati (Quint)

After being great at choosing conference champions and lousy at guessing at-large selections, Avila is making pool-picking great again by having all four of his Final Four selections still in play. Joining him were 11 other entrants with all four of their Final Four selections in the running: P Ripley, Brenner, T Cristinzio, M Josephs, C Whiteside, M Pogach, L Leach, Feinblatt, Packman, M McAtee, Grossman). In what might (or might not, we didn't really check) be a pool first, M Pogach has five possible Final Four teams, including his wildcard choice of Michigan.

Two-thirds of our contestants (50, to the division-averse) still have three Final Four teams left, while twelve hapless entrants have just two. Booth, who had the bad luck to pick Villanova, Louisville, and Duke as Final Four participants, is clinging to the hope that 8-seed Wisconsin will bring her enough glory to climb out of last place.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


We've had 27 Pre-NCAA contests before this season, and in all 27 of them there was a team that got the most votes from our contestants for national champion (although one year there was a tie at the top). Of those 27 selections, a grand total of six (6) actually became national champion (in the year where two teams tied, which was last year, one of our two favorites lost in the first round to a #15 seed and the other lost in the Elite Eight, but we're only counting them as one muffed prediction). That's a 22% success rate for the math-challenged among us.

So for those of you who want to increase your odds of winning in Vegas, we suggest betting against Kansas, our top vote-getter for champion in this year's contest. Though with a mere 16 votes, we didn't have as much misplaced confidence as we usually do; no idea if that makes it better or worse for the Jayhawks.

Twenty-four of us (32%) lost their champion in the tournament's first weekend, including the 12 who voted for Villanova, the 6 who liked Louisville (Baumgarten 2, Fitch, D Josephs, Su Leach, Steinhardt, J Whiteside), and the 5 who dared with Duke (Bud Acchione, Biebel 3, D Kedson, Rubinson, Tester). Plus R Simon, who picked Virginia.

The full list of selected champions is as follows:

Kansas: 16
Villanova: 12
UNC: 9
Gonzaga: 9
Louisville: 6 (Baumgarten 2, Fitch, D Josephs, Su Leach, Steinhardt, J Whiteside)
Oregon: 5
Duke: 5 (Bud Acchione, Biebel 3, D Kedson, Rubinson, Tester)
Wisconsin: Booth
Virginia: R Simon
Kentucky: M Pogach
Baylor: M Peloso

Kansas plays Purdue on Thursday night, in a potential upset special.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mild Cards

Back in the day, a pool contestant just got wildcard points if their team made the Sweet 16, and then only if they walked to school, eight miles straight uphill in the snow. Well, if those rules were in force today, the only entrant we'd be talking about would be M Pogach, who has Michigan, 6 wildcard points, and the promise of much, much more.

Tharp took South Carolina as his wildcard, which looks really good until you realize that the Gamecocks were ranked #19 in the AP poll accompanying the entry form, and are thus an illegal, immoral, anti-establishment, and downright unacceptable pick.

Beyond that, 51 contestants got a single wildcard point, for picking Notre Dame (23), Wichita State (10), Iowa State (10), Michigan State (5), and Northwestern (3). Fifteen entrants had teams in the tournament but got no points, for picking Minnesota (4), Dayton (4), Oklahoma State (3), VCU (2), Miami (Fla), or Florida Gulf Coast (1 each). Seven astute pool-pickers went with wildcards that didn't make the tournament, including the five who picked Syracuse (Bud Acchione, Biebel 3, Sam Leach, Millan, R Simon) and the two who picked Illinois State (M Peloso, J Whiteside).

But only M Pogach has the chance of getting any more wildcard points. Seriously, if the Wolverines keep going, M Pogach might get out of 70th place...

Avila At Large

We had an undisputed leader in picking conference champions, Avila, who got 20 right (out of 32, a whopping 62.5% success rate that would shame a D student). Only five entrants were within one correct choice of Avila (T Joseph, S Adams, Burch, J Donadio, and Marshall, all with 19), while 12 had 18 right and 9 had 17 right. Nobody else guessed more than half the conferences accurately.

At the other end of the spectrum, Booth got just 7 right (an impressive 21.9%), while Rubinson got 9, M Pogach got 10, and Mash Leach managed 11.

So Avila really had his stuff together, right? Think again. When it came to at-large selections, our conference champion savant chose all of the following: Iowa, Iona (got points for that one but wouldn't have if the Gaels hadn't won their conference), Northern Iowa, Charleston, Ball State, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Green Bay, South Dakota, Cal-St-Bakersfield, UNC-Asheville, Furman, Sam Houston State, Valparaiso, and Weber State.

All we can say about that is, "Wow."

With only one wild card still alive (Michigan, more on that tonight), R Wanger (211 points) maintains the slimmest of margins over Burch (210), Marshall (210), and B Peloso (208). Full standings may be seen using the "Standings" link on the right-hand side of the page.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

No, no, Nova

What do 12 contestants, 42 contestants, and 67 contestants (all but Feinblatt, M Josephs, M Leach, M Pogach, P Ripley, Tester, R Wanger, and J Whiteside) have in common? They all chose Villanova (for champion, Final Four, Elite Eight, in that order), and they're all probably not so happy right now.

The defending champs are the first big fish to get hooked this tournament, despite (some might say, "because of") being our collective second-favorite champion (behind Kansas (16)), our third-favorite Final Four contender (behind Kansas (54) and UNC (46)) and our second-favorite Elite Eight hopeful (behind Kansas (70)). Ah, well, they'll always have Paris, er, Houston.

Ironically, those who benefit most from this upset are the two people at the very bottom of our standings: Booth, who took time out from being in last place to pick Wisconsin as her champion (as well as in her Final Four and Elite Eight) and Myers, who picked the Badgers into the Final Four (as well as Elite Eight). Myers picked Villanova as champion, though, so we guess that might put a damper on things for him. A total of nine entrants have Wisconsin in the Elite Eight (Bud Acchione, Avila, Booth, Naumgarten, L Schlegel, Tharp, Warner, B Whiteside).

Still six games to play today. More later.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Outstanding in their field of 68

The teams are entered and the points are tallied, and the leader after selection of the field, and winner of our $100 prize, is...

...R Wanger, with 210 points, a mere point ahead of Burch (209) and Marshall (209).

Also within an at-large selection of the leader is B Peloso (207), and just behind him are S Adams (206) and J Donadio (206). Bringing up the rear is Booth (155), comfortably behind Myers (161) and M Pogach (164). Full standings may be found here, or by using the standings link on the right-hand side of the page.

During the week, we'll break things down in more detail.

More news about ancient Greece

Well, news about Troy, anyway, which won the Sun Belt championship over Texas State in a game where neither team received a single vote from our contestants.

Doing the Trojans one better, Kent State won the MAC backed by exactly one contestant (Samantha Leach), after beating Akron (favored by 59). The aptly-named Surprise Leach was one of six entrants (Baum, T Cristinzio, Da Dye, M Josephs, Su Leach, Rybaltowski) who picked Rhode Island to win the 14-team Atlantic 10, which is noteworthy because the Rams did just that, taking out VCU (chosen by 27). And, surprise, surprise, Surprise Leach was also one of two contestants (along with Reider) to accurately predict Big 12 champion Iowa State (which beat West Virginia, chosen by Biebel 2, Booth, Karlsruher, Samantha Leach, Quint). And you might not believe it, but those two savvy picks brought Surprise Leach all the way up to a tie for 58th place.

More winners picked by fewer than half of our contestants: Duke (7: Karlsruher, D Kedson, P Leach, Millan, M Peloso, Tester, J Whiteside), which overcame Notre Dame (Steinhardt only) in the ACC; Arizona (15), which beat Oregon (34) in the Pac 12; Cal-Davis (22), which vanquished the Purple Anteaters of Cal-Irvine (43) in the Big West; North Dakota (24), which conquered Weber State (27) in the Big Sky; and New Orleans (29), which bested TAMU-CC in the Southland.

Rounding things out, Music Man character Winthrop (41) upended Campbell (0) in the Big South; New Mexico State (45) defeated CS-Bakersfield (30) in the WAC; Nevada (52) won against Colorado State (9: Biebel 2, M Josephs, M Kleiman, P Leach, Surprise Leach, P Ripley, Rybaltowski, L Schlegel) in the Mountain West; Kentucky (57) clobbered Arkansas (Templeton) in the SEC; defending champion Villanova (65) put away Creighton (Baumgarten 2, J McAtee) in the Big East; Texas Southern (65) disposed of Alcorn State (7: Baum, Booth, Grossman, M Kleiman, Millan, P Ripley, Rubinson) in the SWAC; North Carolina Central (66) made swift work of Norfolk State (8: Bud Acchione, Booth, Feinblatt, E Leach, L Leach, M Pogach, P Ripley, Warner) in the MEAC; Middle Tennessee State (67) outlasted Marshall (0) in Conference USA; Princeton (68) educated Yale (2: Grossman, Tester), after edging Penn (Quint only) in overtime Friday night in the first-ever Ivy League tournament; and finally Vermont (74) did away with Albany (0) in America East.

The only two undecided conferences are the Big 10 (Michigan (Grossman, Quint) vs. Wisconsin (20)) and the AAC (SMU (39) vs. Cincinnati (34)).

And just two hours until the full field is selected, seeded, and sent to regions. See you then

Almost there

Standings have been updated as of all of last night's games. Avila is still in the lead, with 101 points, well ahead of B Peloso (94), and even more ahead of S Adams, Burch, Marshall, and R Wanger (all with 91). At the bottom is Booth, with a paltry 34 points.

We'll have a full blog entry sometime soon this afternoon, and then another either late tonight or tomorrow before lunch.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Like flies

Since our last post, the Patriot League title was awarded to Bucknell (backed by 67) after the Bison beat Lehigh (liked by 7). No other championships were decided, but that didn't stop our contestants from being wrong a lot.

Our favorites in the big conferences have been going down like flies. In the Big 12, overwhelming favorite Kansas (59 votes) got knocked off in their first tournament game (as did our second-favorite Big 12 team, Baylor, chosen by 9). In the Big 10, top vote-getter Purdue (34) got dumped along the side of the runway by Michigan (picked by 2: J Broder and M Pogach). In the Atlantic 10, top dog Dayton (40 votes) got shoved aside by Davidson (selected by nobody). And in the ACC, erroneous favorite North Carolina (taken by 40) got put in their place by arch-rival Duke (chosen by 7 very clever individuals).

Add those to the four earlier conference champions selected by 1 or fewer contestants, and a fairly clear picture of our group competence (or lack thereof) is beginning to emerge.

OK, that's not true. It emerged a long, long time ago.

More conference champions decided tomorrow. See you then.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Holy Jackrabbits, Batman!

The latest cage match, from the Summit League, ended with L Schlegel on top, M McAtee sucking air, and the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State dancing. L Schlegel is now tied for 11th place, but still trails his Dad (R Schlegel) by 5 points.

In the Horizon League, a couple of zero heroes faced off and Northern Kentucky (picked by nobody) prevailed. In the WCC, Gonzaga (taken by 73) became the first 70+ vote team to actually win, after the spectacular flame-outs by Belmont and Monmouth. In the NEC, it was Mount St. Mary's (chosen by 51) taking home the prize.

Avila remains in first place, with 38 points, while six entrants trail by just 3 with 35 points (S Adams, Burch, Coach Doc, Marshall, R Schlegel, R Wanger). Last year's champion, M Peloso is still in last with 15 points, but at least she's joined in that ignominy by Booth, Gorenstein, M Josephs, T Rubinson, and J Whiteside (all tied with 15). Full standings may be accessed here, or by employing the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Tomorrow is Patriot Day (Patriot League, that is), during which Bucknell (selected by 67) takes on Lehigh (taken by 7: Booth; Fitch; L Leach; Samantha Leach, B Peloso, M Pogach, J Whiteside).

See you then.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Top to Bottom

Surprise Leach and Iona bested Rybaltowski and Siena for the MAAC championship, by one point in overtime. The 5 pool points that nobody else got has propelled Su Leach all the way into a tie for 14th place.

Six other conference titles have been decided. In the OVC, Jacksonville State (picked by one fewer entrant than the winner of the MAAC, i.e., zero) beat UT-Martin (chosen by Mash Leach only). In the Atlantic Sun, Florida Gulf Coast (taken by 67) ended the hopes of M Pogach, L Schlegel, and North Florida, in that order. Big South champion Winthrop (selected by 41) beat Campbell (selected by nobody). In the Southern Conference, it was East Tennessee State (36) over UNC-Greensboro (17). In two conferences where all of our entrants picked either one of two teams, UNC-Wilmington (52) triumphed over Charleston (23) in the Colonial Athletic Association, and Wichita State (60) cruised by Illinois State (15) in the MVC.

Out of 32 conferences, there were only four in which 70 or more of our contestants agreed on a champion. Two of those four (Belmont and Monmouth) have already lost. The other two have reached their conference finals: Vermont (74) plays Albany (0) in the America East conference final, later in the week, and Gonzaga (73) plays either St. Mary's (Mash Leach only) or BYU (Steinhardt only), tomorrow. In the NEC final, also tomorrow, Mt. St. Mary's (taken by 51) faces St. Francis, PA (taken by nobody).

The Summit League presents another mano-a-mano cage match between South Dakota State/L Schlegel and Omaha/M McAtee. In the Horizon League, the #1 seed (Oakland, taken by 33), the #2 seed (Valparaiso, liked by 40), and the #3 seed (Biebel 2, only) all lost their first game. The championship game tomorrow pits #4 Northern Kentucky (chosen by a grand total of none of us) against #10 Milwaukee (ditto), meaning that out of the first 11 conferences to crown a champion, at least four (and potentially as many as six) were picked either by zero or by just one of our entrants. We send out a hearty and well-deserved bravo to our group of "special" pool-pickers.

In our first standings of the year, Avila is on top with 28 points, followed closely by nine contestants who are tied with 25. Last year's champion, M Peloso has gone from top to bottom and is now alone in last place with 5 points. Full standings may be accessed here, or by employing the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Surprise! Or not...

It wasn't quite Belmontian, but in the MAAC, 73 out of 75 of our contestants picked Monmouth to win it. Nobody picked #2 St. Peter's, but... surprise! Surprise Leach, that is, picked #3 Iona, who beat St. Peter's, and Rybaltowski picked #4 Siena, who vanquished Monmouth.

So, Su Leach and Rybaltowski are going mano-a-mano in the MAAC final, right now, and the game just went into overtime.

More in a bit...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ask not for whom the Belmonts...

There was no conference champion about which our collective wisdom was more sure. It was as good a lock as anyone was going to get in our contest -- 74 out of 75 entries listed "Belmont" as OVC champion. If our contestants felt good about anything, it was this.

You can probably guess the rest.

It took all the way until March 2 for that good feeling to dissipate. After going 15-1 in regular season OVC play, Belmont went 0-1 in its conference tournament, losing by 6 to Jacksonville State. The sole individual who did not go with Belmont, the ubiquitous Mash Leach, will presumably be rooting hard for Tennessee-Martin in the OVC championship game, later tonight.

In the Atlantic Sun, North Florida (chosen by M Pogach and L Schlegel) continued its improbable run and will face favorite Florida Gulf Coast (selected by 67) in the conference championship tomorrow. In the NEC, Robert Morris (picked by Fitch and Grossman) beat LIU (liked by 17) and moves on to face Mount St. Mary's (faved by 51 of us) in a conference semifinal today. In the Big South, Winthrop (taken by 41) survived Gardner-Webb in overtime, and will play Campbell (taken by nobody but beat UNCA (picked by 32) anyway) in the conference championship tomorrow.

Unless you count President Trump tweeting this morning that President Obama tapped his phones, nothing else worth noting has happened. The only other team with as many votes (74) as Belmont had is Vermont in the America East, so look out, Catamounts, in your next game on Monday.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gentlemen (and women), start your engines!

Here we go. 75 intrepid individuals have chosen to play in this year's contest and the games have just begun.

The only relevant games so far were the start of the Atlantic Sun tournament, and the only result of note was the upset victory by North Florida, a 14-18 team that M Pogach and L Schlegel for some reason decided would win that conference.

No conference tournaments tonight, so get a good night's sleep and get ready for the fun. We know we will.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Here we go again!

It's time for the 28th annual Pre-NCAA Contest.

Rules may be found here.

Entry Form may be found here.

Due date is Monday, February 27, 2017.

This year for payment, we accept cash, checks, Venmo, or Paypal -- instructions are on the rules page.