Tuesday, March 6, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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