Sunday, March 31, 2019

Four Square

Wow. Four Elite Eight games, and the biggest "blowout" was Texas Tech's six (6) point win over Gonzaga, along with two overtime games and Michigan State's 1-point squeaker over Duke. Guess the fans got their money's worth.

But how about our contestants? For just the third time in contest history, a wild card has reached the Final Four (1996 Mississippi State, picked by 13; 2013 Wichita State, picked by 1 (Sciarabba), and now 2019 Auburn, picked by 7: Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside).

Virginia was a popular pick, chosen by 36 into the Final Four and by 18 as champion. Michigan State was selected by 10 to make the Final Four and by three as champion (Karlsruher, L Leach, J Whiteside). Texas Tech was picked by 7 to make the Final Four (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner) and by none to win it all.

Our three prizewinners, depending on who wins the championship, are as follows:


Harlan, 379
C Whiteside, 352
Warner, 325


Harlan, 339
Karlsruher, 313
C Whiteside, 312


Harlan, 339
C Whiteside, 312
Biebel 3, 292


Harlan, 414
C Whiteside, 387
Biebel 3, 367

So, congrats to Harlan, who has won the contest for a record third time (no matter which team wins), and to C Whiteside, who also wins something no matter what. And I guess to Mash Leach (179), who has become only the second entrant to finish last in two different contests.

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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Halfway to Four (aka, Two)

Well we're halfway to the Final Four, and though the standings at this stage are a little bit meaningless, Harlan is still in the lead with 289 points, followed closely by Warner (285) and C Whiteside (282), and less closely by D Kedson (275), L Schlegel (275), D Josephs (274), Reid (273), and Tester (270). Full standings may be found (as always) through a link on the right-hand of this page, or here.

Congrats to the seven entrants who followed Texas Tech into the Valley of the Four (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner); less so to the zero (0) entrants who picked the Red Raiders to be national champions.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Eight May or May Not be Enough

The Eight has happened. And with three 1-seeds, two 2-seeds, and two 3-seeds in the Elite Eight, we still only have 35 out of 58 contestants with more than half of the Elite Eight correct (and that's including wild cards).

Amazingly, we had a contestant (Tester) who got 7 of the 8 correct, though predictably that contestant is a non-paying entrant. An additional seven entrants got 6 of 8 (D Kedson, L Schlegel, D Josephs, Warner, Sami Leach, Harlan (including Auburn as WC), and C Whiteside (also including Auburn as WC).

Balancing out those seven are seven contestants who only accurately predicted just 3 of the 8 Elite Eight teams (Serri, Rybaltowski, Marshall, J Broder, E Pogach, Templeton 2, and Mash Leach).

Harlan is now in first, with 269 points, followed by Biebel 3 (262), C Whiteside (262), D Kedson (255), L Schlegel (255), D Josephs (254), Tester (250), and Sami Leach (249). The top three in the standings all took Auburn as their wild card.

A lot more to happen over the weekend. Full standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1991

1991 - The UNLV Discount

In 1991, undefeated UNLV was such a prohibitive favorite that the commissioners, hoping for a little diversity in champion choices, diverged from the normal scoring options. Instead of awarding 40 points for champion, as we've done in every contest since, we only promised 30 points to entrants who took UNLV to win it, and attempted to entice any choice other than UNLV with 50 points.

In retrospect, the succeeding events were obvious, but in 1991 who knew? 21 of 27 contestants (77.8%) went with UNLV anyway, and as became customary in later years, that overwhelming majority guessed wrong. Only two entrants got the points for eventual champion Duke, and one of them (N Sullivan) won the contest, with 341 points.

We have never offered such a "discount" again.

Oh, wait, you came here for current news? OK, halfway through to the Elite Eight, the standings may be found on the right-hand side of the page, or here. Of the top four scores, three (75%) have been turned in by Davids. And Booth is only one point behind C Whiteside. Besides that, who cares? The standings are meaningless until after tomorrow's games.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Advanced Math: Eight plus Four

In two earlier posts, we talked about the 46 eliminated Elite Eight entries and the seven foregone Final Four fiascos. Now let's talk about the 418 Elite Eight picks and the 225 Final Four selections that are still alive.

Here's the E8 breakdown:

Duke 53
Gonzaga 51
Virginia 51
Kentucky 43
North Carolina 43
Tennessee 40
Michigan 34
Michigan State 29
Texas Tech 24
LSU 16
Purdue 13
Houston 12
Florida State 5 (Baum, Doug Dye, Gorenstein, Sup Leach, Rybaltowski)
Virginia Tech 4 (Dale Dye, M Peloso, E Pogach, Templeton)
Auburn 0
Oregon 0

As a reminder, these are the already eliminated Elite Eight entries:

Kansas 10 (Biebel 3, Ed Leach, Mash Leach, J McAtee, B Peloso, E Pogach, Selig, Templeton 2, B Whiteside, J Whiteside)
Marquette 9 (Baum, Biebel 2, M Josephs, J McAtee, E Pogach, Rubinson, Rybaltowski, Steinhardt, Templeton 2)
Villanova 7 (Avila, J Broder, D Kedson, Sami Leach, L Schlegel, Selig, Tester)
Nevada 7 (Doug Dye, M Kleiman, L Leach, Marshall, Paston, Rybaltowski, Serri)
Buffalo 2 (M Paston, Sciarabba)
Wisconsin 2 (Booth, L Leach)
Iowa State 2 (Atkinson, Sup Leach)
Kansas State 2 (Marshall, Sciarabba)
VCU 1 (Templeton 2)
Maryland 1 (Mash Leach)
NC State 1 (K Ripley)
Washington 1 (J Broder)
Cincinnati 1 (J McAtee)

And here's the F4 breakdown:

Gonzaga 40
Duke 38
Virginia 36
North Carolina 30
Kentucky 20
Tennessee 18
Michigan 15
Michigan State 10
Texas Tech 7 (Dale Dye, M Josephs, Sami Leach, E Pogach, Reid, Rybaltowski, Warner)
LSU 5 (Biebel 3, Doug Dye, Mash Leach, Sup Leach, R Simon)
Purdue 4 (Butscher, D Kedson, Elle Leach, Templeton)
Houston 2 (L Leach, J McAtee)
Virginia Tech 0
Florida State 0
Auburn 0
Oregon 0

And again as a reminder, these are the Final Four failures, so far:

Kansas 4 (Biebel 3, Mash Leach, B Peloso, J Whiteside)
Wisconsin 1 (Booth)
Villanova 1 (Tester)
Nevada 1 (Rybaltowski)

It's also worth noting that seven contestants have Auburn as their wild card (Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside).

With almost everyone looking at potential bonanzas, we won't be able to properly ridicule our contestants until some more games have been played. So stay tuned.

Great Moments in Pool History - Firsts of Dubious Distinction

2000 - Sister Kissing

This particular commissioner doesn't have any sisters, so I don't know what it feels like and frankly am too polite to ask. What I do know is that we went ten years of this contest without ever having a tie at the top, then had three first-place ties in ten years, and then haven't had any since.

The first time we had two entrants who had to split the glory (and cash) was in the year 2000. J Donadio, Jr. and Mahalko both had 274 points, which incidentally was the lowest first-place total ever at that time (that record, however was "bested" in 2006, when (oddly enough) L Donadio won with just 268 points, and then shattered in 2011, when Huffnagle won with 223).

Five years later, Butscher and K Wanger (now K Ripley) split the prize, each having 308 points in 2005. Not to be outdone by his daughter, the third tie occurred four years after that, when R Wanger split the winnings with Nowakowski, each with 328 points in 2009.

2010 - Nobility

We always admire when someone plays the contest for the sheer joy of competing, without any hope of actually collecting any tangible reward. Though if it was us, we'd make sure to pay the fee and be eligible for the prizes. For the first 20 years of the contest, the truth appeared to be that those who chose not to pay did so because they really did have no hope of winning, because their picks were, shall we say, uninspiring.

Well, that truth burned to the ground in 2010, when non-paying Crotty won the contest in his first attempt, with 317 points, and was declared the most noble winner we'd ever had. His cash went to Biebel (305 points).

Five years later, it happened again. This time it was Tester, amazingly also in his first attempt, who won with 360 points. His cash went to Baumgarten (354 points).

Interestingly enough, Crotty played in our contest for five more years, and in each of those contests he chose to pay and thus play for both glory and cash. He never won again.

Tester stayed true to his ideals, has never paid, and finished 60th, 51st, and 44th in the years since his day in the sun. This year, he's currently sitting in 33rd place.

1995 - Extremes

Lest anyone think the winners of our contest possess innate talent of some kind that allows them to preternaturally pick better than the rest of us, we offer as Exhibit A commissioner D Kedson. The 1990 winner with 360 points turned around just five years later finished dead last, with a mere 196 points in 1995.

Exhibit B is even more interesting, as we bring you Mash Leach. In the three years preceding the Monster Mash's stunning 1997 victory (316 points), he'd managed to finish 80th, 81st, and 98th, including a last-place "performance" in 1994 (150 points).

In deference to the rest of our contestants, we feel obligated to point out that these two have been the only entrants to pull off this Jekyll-and-Hyde stunt. But we're sure a lot of others came close.

2014 - Two Time Losers

As we mentioned in a previous post, we've had five multi-time first-place prize winners. What we haven't mentioned (at least not yet) is that the contest has only seen one contestant who finished last more than once. That contestant was Urban's Angels who hit the bottom spot in 2013 (135 points) and again in 2014 (114 points, the 2nd-lowest total ever in our contest). Even more impressive, those two years were the only years that Urban's Angels entered our contest.

EDIT: Turns out Urban's Angels was NOT the only multi-last place finisher: Spitz achieved this dubious feat the year before anybody'd ever heard of Urban's Angels, in 2012, after also finishing last all the way back in 2001. And in this current 2019 contest, Mash Leach has finished last for the second time. So there's that.

Which seems like as good a place as any to end this post.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1994

1994 - our first two-timer

In our 5th contest, we had our first two-timer. 1992 winner Norm Rosen won for the second time in three years, giving him 40% of the contest titles (2 out of 5). His performance was even more dominant considering he didn't play the contest in 1990 or 1991. A dynasty was looming. We were facing the Yankees of the Pre-NCAA pool.

But Rosen never won our contest again.

However his feat did stand the test of time. The contest was 23 years old before our next two-time winner. Actually, two years before that (in 2010) we handed out the winning prize to a previous winner, but Biebel, who had won the contest in 2004, really finished second in 2010, only taking the first prize money because the true winner, Crotty, was a non-paying contestant. It wasn't until 2012 that we had a two-timer (other than Rosen) who truly finished first twice, that double-dipper being Harlan, who had previously won in 1993 (coincidentally, the year in between Rosen's conquests).

Somehow the floodgates had opened, because after going 20+ years in which Rosen was our only two-time winner, our 2016 champion M Peloso (who had previously won in 2007) became the 4th such individual (counting Biebel) in seven years.

The third of those four was 2014 winner Baumgarten, though similar to Biebel, Baumgarten's 2015 first prize winnings were courtesy of an actual winner (Tester) who didn't have the sense to pay for his entry. In 2017, Baumgarten became a true two-timer, and our only three-timer, winning the first prize money for the third time in four years.

As a fitting monument to his brilliance, on his historic 2017 entry form Baumgarten misspelled his own name.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Round Two

The second round wiped out all of our wild cards except Auburn, meaning only seven (7) contestants got more than one (1) wild card point: Biebel 3, Gorenstein, Harlan, Elle Leach, Rybaltowski, Serri, C Whiteside.

The weekend games knocked out surprisingly few of our Final Four and Elite Eight picks, however. As of now, only 46 out of a possible 464 Elite Eight picks (9.9%) are eliminated, those being the 25 we mentioned in this earlier blog post, as well as those devoted to Kansas (10), Villanova (7: Avila, J Broder, D Kedson, Sami Leach, L Schlegel, Selig, Tester), Buffalo (2: M Paston, Sciarabba), Washington (1: J Broder), and Maryland (1: Mash Leach). A mere seven (7) of our 232 Final Four picks (3.0%) have been kicked to the curb - those affiliated with Kansas (4: Biebel 3, Mash Leach, B Peloso, J Whiteside), Villanova (Tester), Wisconsin (Booth), and Nevada (Rybaltowski).

Biebel 3 is now in first place with 202 points, followed by Harlan (199), Baum (196), D Kedson and L Schlegel (195 each), D Josephs (194), and B Whiteside (193). Comfortably in last place is Kirchoff, with 129 points.

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - A Tale of Two Commissioners

1998 - from spam to command

In the contest's early years, our contestants were almost exclusively friends and co-workers of the commissioners. Our first three years we had 18, 26, and 27 entries, and the commissioners could practically knock on every previous-year contestant's door and hand each of them the new year's entry form. Soon, however, word began to spread as if by wildfire. Our next five years, we had 50, 80, 90, 103, and 123 entries, and there were simply too many people for the commissioners to personally remind about each year's contest. By the mid- to late-1990s, the commissioners started disseminating information using a newfangled invention known as "e-mail."

In order to do that, of course, people had to give us their e-mail addresses. We specifically asked each entrant for permission to communicate by e-mail as well as a convenient address to which we could send the entry form and newsletters.

Therefore, you can perhaps imagine our surprise when we received an extremely indignant response to one of our e-mails in February 1998. We don't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, Where do you get off spamming me with this crap? If you ever contact me again, I'll report you.

A little bit stung by this response, the commissioners contritely explained (in a very small electronic voice) that M Josephs had played in our contest the year before and had actually asked us to send the e-mail announcing the 1998 contest. After thinking about it, M Josephs apparently remembered and sent back a filled out entry form.

He was the only entrant that picked Kentucky to win the championship that season, and since Kentucky did in fact win the championship, M Josephs won the contest (and the prize-money that went with it).

He became predictably enthusiastic about the contest thereafter. So enthusiastic that several years later, he volunteered to become a commissioner. His main contribution? Sending out our annual e-mails.

M Josephs has never won the contest again.

2019 - Bob Natalini does absolutely nothing

Original co-commissioner RS Natalini did a little bit of everything. He recruited contestants, distributed entry forms, helped enter selections into the database and helped tabulate results, sent e-mails, co-wrote newsletters, and did whatever else needed to be done. No way the pool would have lasted 30 years without RS Natalini performing his co-commissionerial duties.

The years marched on, and the contest became more and more automated, needed less and less from the co-commissioner. We don't remember the exact words, but at some point he said something along the lines of, You don't need me anymore, right?

He didn't walk away completely. He still played in the contest, both on his own behalf and as a co-entrant with S Adams and Coach Doc. He still encouraged his father, RC Natalini to play. He even submitted entries in the name of his deceased cat, Claude.

But not this year. No, in February 2019, RS Natalini sent us an e-mail a few days before the entries were due, telling us he just didn't have time to focus on the contest this year. For the first time in 30 years, RS Natalini was not part of the Pre-NCAA Contest.

And pool-watchers everywhere shed a single, solitary tear.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Give me Liberty! (said nobody in our contest)

Yeah, we were going to talk about all the savvy contestants who had the guts and foresight to take Liberty as their wild card, except no such people existed. So we'll have to talk about failure instead.

Those who chose our two most popular wild cards appeared in good shape when Mississippi State (taken by 11) got a 5-seed and Cincinnati (also selected by 11) got a 7-seed. Well, after 30 years you probably know the drill: both teams lost their first-round game, thus bestowing exactly zero (0) wild card points on those who chose them. VCU (picked by 3: Atkinson, M Josephs, Templeton), Syracuse (2: E Pogach, Rubinson), and Utah State (1: Warner) also dropped their first-round contests, bringing the total of entrants who got nothing and liked it to 34 (including our two entrants who chose illegal wild cards (J Broder and R Simon), our three entrants who picked non-dancing wild cards (Doug Dye, M Kleiman, Kirchoff) and the one unfortunate who picked a wild card who lost in the play-in round (Avila).

Of course this leaves 24 cagey contestants who've received at least one wild card point: the nine (9) who chose Wofford, the seven (7) who took Auburn, the five (5) who went with Washington, as well as Steinhardt (Murray State), L Leaach (UCF), and Sup Leach (Oklahoma).

All four #1s, #2s, and #3s won, plus three of the four #4s. But that didn't keep Booth (Wisconsin) or Rybaltowski (Nevada) from sacrificing a Final Four team after the first round. A total of 25 Elite Eight picks are also down the proverbial tubes after just one game, thanks to: Marquette (9: Baum, Biebel 2, M Josephs, J McAtee, E Pogach, Rubinson, Rybaltowski, Steinhardt, Templeton 2); Nevada (7: Doug Dye, M Kleiman, L Leach, Marshall, Paston, Rybaltowski, Serri); Wisconsin (2: Booth, L Leach); Kansas State (2: Marshall, Sciarabba); Iowa State (2: Atkinson, Sup Leach); Cincinnati (J McAtee); and VCU (Templeton 2). Special mention goes to K Ripley, who took uninvited NC State into her Elite Eight.

More games today. Seeya.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Chomp Eons

Over the course of 29 years, one thing is certain about our contest -- our most popular champion almost never wins. So, Duke fans, be afraid, be very afraid.

Yes, Duke is our most popular pick, with 19 of us digging the Devils as national champs. But over the past 29 tournaments, that honor came to fruition six (6) times, or 20.7%. Three teams got 10 or more votes (including Virginia (18) and Gonzaga (10)), and no other team got more than three votes. The full breakdown is below:

Duke: 19
Virginia: 18
Gonzaga: 10
Michigan State: 3 (Karlsruher, L Leach, J Whiteside)
Tennessee: 2 (Gorenstein, P Leach)
North Carolina: 2 (Baum, Mash Leach)
Michigan: 2 (Ayala, Elle Leach)
Kentucky: 2 (Ed Leach, M Paston)

All eight of these teams survived the first round. We'll see how they do over the weekend.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wahl'd Kurds

In our 30th year of doing this, it's only fitting that would-be scofflaws still try to fool the commissioners and get around the rules, specifically by picking illegal wild cards. The record number of wild card criminals came in 2002, when eleven people tried and failed to confound us. This year, only two cagey crooks came and went. And, even after 30 years, our delight in naming these misdemeanants has not diminished. So let's all hear it for J Broder, who this year picked #25 Buffalo (in the AP top 25 linked to in the Rules) as his wild card but before that hadn't picked an illegal wild card since all the way back in 2009, and for R Simon, who picked #14 Kansas as his wild card.

Our most popular wild card selections were 5-seed Mississippi State (picked by 11) and 7-seed Cincinnati (also picked by 11), followed by 7-seed Wofford (8), 5-seed Auburn (7), 9-seed Washington (5), 8-seed VCU (3: Atkinson, M Josephs, Templeton), and 8-seed Syracuse (2: E Pogach, Rubinson). One entrant each chose 12-seed Murray State (Steinhardt), 11-seed and play-in game loser St. John's (Avila), 9-seed UCF (L Leach), 8-seed Utah State (Warner), and 9-seed Oklahoma (Sup Leach).

Special mention goes to three contestants who chose wild cards that were not invited to play: Doug Dye, who picked Texas; M Kleiman, who picked Alabama; and Kirchoff, who picked first-round NIT loser Toledo.

Great Moments in Pool History - 2002

2002 - an Entry Form is Born

In our lucky 13th contest, the commissioners decided to go digital. With our entry form, at least. For two years, we'd had an optional computerized entry form, but it was basically a fill-in document. In 2002, we went whole hog (though totally not Razorback). After consulting computer experts from all over the globe (well, actually we consulted one commissioner from the privacy of his living room), we came up with a version of the very entry form we still use today.

There were those who complained about the newfangled form, mostly about how we'd have nothing left to write about in our newsletters (this was still six years before we took the further technological leap of converting our newsletter system to blog posts). Prior to 2002, a large percentage of our newsletters were devoted to entrants hilariously misspelling team names, picking the same team twice (sometimes more than twice), forgetting to choose conference champions, or miscounting the number of teams they chose at large (sometimes too many, mostly too few). With all that taken away, the critics complained, what in the world would we write about?

Our contestants answered at the top of their electronic lungs, picking eleven (11) illegal wildcards (out of 120 entrants). It's a record that still stands.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1996/1997

1996/1997 - the Lunardi Years

Everybody's heard of Joe Lunardi, the self-proclaimed "Bracketologist" who's all over ESPN from December to March, year after year. Well, back in 1996 hardly anyone had heard of him. He was an assistant AD at St. Joseph's and was involved with a fabulous publication called the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

He was also a contestant in our contest.

(1996 Standings)

In 1997, Mr. Lunardi had a couple of phone conversations with one of our commissioners. In possibly our proudest pool-related moment, he told us our contest was the best pool in which he'd ever played (seriously, he really said that).

(1997 Standings)

In 1997 Lunardi started writing a Blue Ribbon NCAA prediction column, which was soon picked up by ESPN. Coincidence? We think not. Though we'll never know for sure because Lunardi stopped taking our calls. The rest, as they say, is history.

For the record, the world's best-known bracketologist finished 18th in our contest in 1996, and tied for 43rd in 1997. On one of his entry forms, he picked Syracuse twice (both as conference champion and at-large, which was possible (though not recommended) in those days because the entry form was still on paper).

And we're not bitter at all. Nope, not one bit.

Monday, March 18, 2019

And they're off...

The field has been selected. Not many surprises with the committee's at-large selections. The biggest puzzlers (at least to our contestants) were Seton Hall (selected by 29), Temple (taken by 38), Belmont (brought up by 40), and Minnesota (marked by 40).

Competition for the prize for best score after selection of the field was fierce. The winner was Biebel 3, with 196 points, barely beating out a trio of Davids (Baum (195), Josephs (194), Kedson (194)), a Luke and Laura (Schlegel, (194) and Harlan, (193)), and four others also within five points (B Whiteside, (193); Madi Leach, (192); M Wanger, (192); M Peloso (191)).

Full Standings may be found here.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Almost There

They're announcing the at-large teams right now, so let's get in one last look after the conference championships.

The last seven conference winners include two teams chosen by a majority of our entrants, bringing the total of teams chosen by a majority up to ten (31.3%):

Big West: UC-Irvine (53);
Ivy: Yale (35);
Big 10: Michigan State (24);
Sun Belt: Georgia State (18);
AAC: Cincinnati (14);
SEC: Auburn (0);
Atlantic 10: St. Louis (0).

Note that two more teams were chosen by zero (0) of us, bringing the total of teams chosen by one or fewer of us up to eight (25.0%) (it's nine (28.1%) if you go with teams chosen by three or fewer of us).

Only one (1) contestant got more than half of the conferences right, and that was B Whiteside, who picked exactly one more than half (17 of 32, or 53%, meaning our leading prognosticator would have gotten a solid F on an sixth grade math test). Three entrants got exactly half right (D Kedson, M Peloso, L Schlegel).

B Whiteside is not coincidentally our leader, before the at-larges are picked, with 100 points, followed by D Kedson (95), Harlan (94), Baum and Gallagher (93 each), M Peloso and L Schlegel (92 each), and Madi Leach (90).

Once they finish announcing the at-larges and I get a chance to enter them into the computer (probably late tonight or maybe tomorrow mid-morning), we'll announce the winner of the mid-contest prize for leading after selection of the field.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Oops, we forgot to add a heading...

A huge day in Contestville, and now they've crowned 25 conference champions.

13 of those conferences were won today. The good news for our contestants is the majority of us picked the winner in six of those conferences:

MAC: Buffalo (55);
WAC: New Mexico State (51).
American East: Vermont (picked by 49);
Big Sky: Montana (44);
Conference USA: Old Dominion (44);
SWAC: Prairie View A&M (31);

The bad news for our contestants is that brings our total of conferences in which the majority of us picked correctly up to eight (8), otherwise known as 32%.

Three of today's conference winners were chosen by three (3) or fewer of us:

Big 12: Iowa State (3: L Leach, Sciarabba, Templeton);
MEAC: NCCU (1: Elle Leach);
Pac 12: Oregon (1: Rubinson).

That brings the total of conferences predicted by one or fewer of us up to six (6), or 24% (and seven conferences were picked by 3 or fewer, or 28%).

The remaining four conference winners were:

ACC: Duke (23);
Big East: Villanova (21);
Mountain West: Utah State (12)
Southland: Abilene Christian (12).

A grand total of four (4) of us have gotten more than half right: D Kedson and M Wanger have 14 right out of 25 (that's 56% for those barely breaking even at home); and B Whiteside and L Schlegel have 13 right (52%).

B Whitesidea is our current leader, with 77 points, followed by D Kedson (76), L Harlan and M Wanger (73 each), Baum and D Josephs (72 each), and L Schlegel (71). In last place, waaaaay behind everyone else, Gorenstein has 4 conferences correct, for 29 points.

The last seven conferences will have winners on March 17. In only three of them is it even possible for a majority-chosen team to win.

Big West: Cal-Irvine (53) vs. CS-Fullerton (2: Biebel 2, L Leach);
AAC: Houston (36) vs. Cincinnati (14);
Ivy: Yale (35) vs. Harvard (19);
SEC: Tennessee (23) vs. Auburn (0);
Big 10: Michigan State (24) vs. Michigan (19);
Sun Belt: Georgia State (18) vs. Texas-Arlington (2: E Pogach, Templeton);
Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure (1: Mash Leach) vs. St. Louis (0).

In less than 17 hours, the whole tournament field will be selected. We don't know about you, but we can't wait.

Friday, March 15, 2019


No new conference champions today, but we'll have 14 conference champions tomorrow:

In the America East, Vermont (favored by 49) plays last year's NCAA tournament darling Maryland-Balimore County (picked by 5: Dale Dye, Madi Leach, Mash Leach, Rybaltowski, J Whiteside);

In the MEAC, it'll be Norfolk State (50) vs. NCCU (1: Elle Leach);

In the Big 12, it's Kansas (18) vs. Iowa State (3: L Leach, Sciarabba, Templeton);

In the Mountain West, San Diego State (chosen by zero) will match up against either Utah State (12) or Fresno (also zero);

In the SWAC, we're talking Prairie View A&M (31) vs. Texas Southern (24);

In the Big East, it'll be Villanova (21) vs. Seton Hall (yet another zero);

In the MAC, Buffalo (55) takes on Bowling Green (1: Templeton);

In the Big Sky, Montana (44) plays Eastern Washington (again zero);

In the ACC, Duke (23) vs. Florida State (dare we say, zero?);

In Conference USA, Old Dominion (44) plays Western Kentucky (8: J Broder, J Donadio Jr, Gorenstein, Mash Leach, Sami Leach, B Peloso, Serri, Warner);

In the Southland, it's Abilene Christian (12) vs. New Orleans (2: E Pogach, Serri);

In the WAC, it's New Mexico State (51) against either Grand Canyon (4: Biebel 2, E. Pogach, Rybaltowski, Templeton) or Utah Valley (2: L Leach, Serri);

In the Pac 12, it'll be Washington (47) against either Arizona State (5: Blane, Booth, L Leach, M Wanger, J Whiteside) or Oregon (1: Rubinson);

And in the Big West, we'll see Cal-Irvine (53) against either CS-Fullerton (2: Biebel 2, L Leach) or Cal-Santa Barbara (2: M Josephs, Mash Leach).

Enjoy the day.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 1990

1990 - the Pool begins

The '90s had just begun. The first George Bush was president (that's W's dad, for those not old enough to remember). Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture. Vanilla Ice had a #1 single. And the commissioners had an idea.

We had 18 contestants. The entry form was handwritten. Pools were filled in, verified, and scored by hand. Newsletters were distributed by fax, hand-delivery, or snail mail (back way before anyone called it "snail mail"). It was the first Pre-NCAA Contest, the birth of history.

It was almost a stillborn birth. On the strength of picking Texas (a team that made the Elite Eight) as his wildcard, commissioner D Kedson won his own pool, with 360 points. Fortunately, the other 17 contestants realized it was a fluke and the Contest continued.

D Kedson has never won since.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Five for one, and one for all

We previously mentioned the NEC final was today, and predictably the underdog, Fairleigh Dickinson (21 votes) beat favorite St. Francis PA (28). What we didn't realize was four more conferences crowned champions this evening. And in one (1) of them, our favorite won -- Northern Kentucky (favored by 35) beat Wright State (wished by 19) in the Horizon League, bringing the total of conferences in which a majority of our contestants picked the winner to two (2). Out of eleven (that's 18.2%, for those of you calculating percentages at home).

In the Summit, North Dakota State (guessed by just Biebel 2) beat Omaha (hoped for by 5), and in the WCC, St. Mary's (selected by a grand total of zero (0) of us) beat Gonzaga (selected by ALL (all) of us). Those two bring the total conferences selected by one or fewer to four (4). Out of eleven (that's 36.4%, or twice as many as majority winners, for those of you actually reading this blog post). The last conference champion of the day was Northeastern (picked by 13), which beat our doomed favorite Hofstra (37) in the CAA final.

Baum, who now holds the honor of being the sole entrant in this contest who has picked more than half the conference winners (6 winners out of 11, so barely more than half, with 54.5%), has leapfrogged into first place, with 30 points. Just behind him is B Whiteside, with 28 points, and Sam Leach, with 26. Seven contestants are tied for fourth place, with 25 points (L Donadio, Doug Dye, Gallagher, Mad Leach, L Schlegel, Serri, and M Wanger).

Tomorrow, one additional conference champion will be named (and this time, we mean it). That would be either Colgate (taken by 32) or Bucknell (liked by 18), in the Patriot League.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Two more in the truck

Well, we finally had our first conference champion picked by a majority of our contestants. Wofford (taken by 54) took the Southern, meaning our group now has chosen wisely once out of six. In the MAAC, Iona (liked by 28, so almost nearly a majority, except not) beat upstart Monmouth.

Those two relatively popular winners means there's only one remaining entrant who has yet to glean a point. That would be Templeton 2, who sits in 57th place with 0 points. In first place is L Donadio, the only one of us who has gotten more right than wrong, with 20 points. Five points behind the leader is a 19-way tie, with 15 points.

The NEC final is tomorrow (St. Francis PA (28) v. FDU (21)). Enjoy.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Same old, same old

Seems like every year we talk about how bad our contestants are at picking pools. Probably because it is every year. But in our 30th edition, this one's shaping up to be a classic.

We now have four conference champions, and in exactly none of them have our favorite won the conference. So far, the most popular winner was yesterday's news (Murray State in the OVC, picked by 23 (40.4%)). Three more teams joined the Racers today: those who said "Give me Liberty" in the Atlantic Sun won out, but that was only 16 entrants (28.1%). In the Big South, only one (1) of us managed to guess properly and take Gardner-Webb (that would be J Whiteside), which translates to 1.8%. But believe it or not, that showing surpassed our aggregate pool-picking power in the MVC, where zero (0, in other words, 0%) of us selected Bradley.

Four more conference titles will be decided in the next few days. In the last couple days in the MAAC, lowly Monmouth (chosen by two contestants, Gorenstein and Tester) beat Quinnipiac (taken by 13) and Canisius (liked by 5), and will face Iona (28) in the conference final tomorrow. Also tomorrow, Wofford (favored by 54) takes on UNC-Greensboro (favored by zero) in the Southern Conference. On Tuesday, it'll be St. Francis PA (28) v. Fairleigh Dickinson (21) in the NEC, and on Wednesday we'll see Colgate (32) v. Bucknell (18) in the Patriot League.

As one might guess, the current standings are a mess. Only 34 of us (59.6%) have scored any points at all. Amazingly, six of us (10.5%) have displayed sufficient legerdemain to have reached the lofty total of two (2) correct out of four (J Broder, L Donadio, M Josephs, R Simon, B Whiteside, J Whiteside) and those six share the early lead with ten points.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

First Blood

The first team has fought its way into the NCAA tournament, and that team is OVC champion Murray State (chosen by 23 entrants) who tonight vanquished Belmont (selected by 31).

But that's by no means the only news of the day. Possibly the most astonishing was South Dakota State (an overwhelming favorite, with support from 51 contestants) losing to last-seeded Western Illinois in the first round of Summit League tournament. The result being the Summit team with the most support has become Omaha, taken by just five risk-seeking souls (J Donadio Jr., L Leach, M Peloso, Templeton 2, J Whiteside). In the Big South, Campbell (liked by 22) fell to Gardner-Webb (favored by just J Whiteside), a team that now must face Radford (picked by 29) tomorrow for the Big South championship. In the MVC, our two big favorites (last year's Final Four darling Illinois-Chicago (30) and Seinfeld love-or-hate interest the Drake (19)) both lost, meaning either Bradley (zeroed in by zero) or Northern Iowa (ditto) will represent the MVC in the NCAA tournament and ensuring that absolutely none of our contestants will have selected the MVC winner.

In addition to the Big South and the MVC, tomorrow will feature the conference championship of the Atlantic Sun, where the winner will be either Liberty (16) or Lipscomb (38) -- and not, as erroneously reported in certain sources, Liberty or Death. On Tuesday, in the NEC, it'll be St. Francis PA (28) or Fairleigh Dickinson (21)

Enjoy springing forward.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

And we're off...

Raise your glass, it's contest time, the very first day of our 30th year and we have 57 entrants in the contest. Fitting to this historic occasion, six of those entrants have already lost a conference champion:

St. Francis (NY) lost in the NEC after being chosen by Biebel 3 and Templeton;

Sacred Heart also lost in the NEC despite being the darlings of P Leach, Rubinson, and J Whiteside;

Illinois-Chicago lost in the Horizon, much to the chagrin of Templeton 2.

More (as well as less) pertinent information will follow in the coming days. Have a field day!