2000 PRE-NCAA CONTEST NEWSLETTER 1
As the twenty-first century dawns, and the Presidential race heats up, it is comforting to realize that,
while chiefs of state come and go, and millennia pass, some universal constants remain in the swirling cosmos.
One such constant is that, come March, dozens of people will squander their money trying to peer into the future,
at least the future of NCAA Tournament basketball. This year, 126 people have entered our little contest.
Two entrants, Claude (a deceased cat) and Sam Karpp (a living nine year old who fills out his own pool) have opted to be non-paying entrants, meaning first place
will net $654; second place, $327; and third place, $109. (For those who didn't know, we have added two $50 prizes -- one for the leader after
selection of the NCAA Tournament field, and the other for the entrant who collects the most (combined) Final 8, Final 4, Champion, and Wild Card points.)
A second universal constant is that our contestants are hopelessly incompetent at peering into the future. Through Monday night, ten conference champions
had been decided. Of our 126 contestants, a grand total of seven have managed to predict correctly more than half of these conference champions
(Bobbie Shaid (7 of 10); Reider (7); Baumgarten (6); Creelman (6); FeVeCeRe (6); Gorman (6); and M Papalia (6)). And if you don't count Penn, who had all but
clinched the Ivy League title before the pool was due, only Bobbie Shaid and Reider managed to get more than half of the nine champions correct.
But, perhaps we should qualify our earlier statement: some of our contestants are hopelessly incompetent at peering into the past.
Three entrants (Conte, RC Natalini, and B Pappasergi) picked Princeton to win the Ivy League. Perhaps the news of Penn's victory over Princeton eight days before the pool
was due, giving Penn a more or less insurmountable lead over Princeton in a league with no conference tournament, hasn't gotten to Western Pennsylvania yet. Two other contestants
failed to pick an Ivy champion at all, but we'll discuss that later.
Forty-three entrants have only three of the ten correct. Ten entrants have only two of ten (Alberts; Geo B; Gold; Leeds; Peter O'Brien; B Pappasergi; Conte; P Leach;
RC Natalini; and Chico Papalia). And in a display that would dazzle even Mash Leach, R Seidel has
managed to choose a losing team in every single conference tournament so far, although at least he chose Penn.
Another universal constant is the delight the commissioners take in disparaging as many of our contestants as possible (but perhaps that's already obvious).
In an attempt to enter the new millennium, this year we offered for the first time an electronic entry form (which approximately
half of our entrants utilized -- thank you). Some skeptics predicted that, since the contestants merely had to type "yes" next to the names of the teams
they wished to select, that we would have fewer embarrassing errors to report.
Yeah, right, and instead of counting the primaries, Al Gore will challenge Bill Bradley to a winner-takes-the-nomination one-on-one game.
First, half the entrants still hand-wrote their entries, so we had the usual smattering of spelling and abbreviation adventures. Creative spelling included "Alburn"; "Sienna";
"Peperdine"; "Winthorp"; our personal favorite, "Louisvill Tech"; and, of course, "Perdue." Innovative abbreviations included "Syra," "Oklahom," and "Indian," and it should be
noted that the latter is neither a proper abbreviation, nor politically correct.
But, heck, we already knew that our entrants had core competence problems in basic spelling. How about math?
Three entrants, all of whom used the e-entry form, were unable to perform what we thought was a relatively simple task of counting to four.
In a pool first, Broder picked six (yes, 6) Final 4 teams and nine (9) Final 8 teams (but only 33 at-large teams). Peter and Patrick O'Brien each chose five (5) Final 4 teams.
Maybe there's something to heredity after all. Patrick added the extra touch of nine (9) Final 8 teams as well. Broder claims that the computerized
counter that we built into the spreadsheet malfunctioned in his version of Excel. Did that cause him to mistakenly think that 3 + 1 = 6?
In light of the above, perhaps S Shaid can be excused for failing to count to 35, entering only 34 at-large teams. But how about the ten entrants who couldn't
even count to one? Yes, this year ten people managed to pick the same team twice. Seven entrants chose the same team as conference champion and at-large: Yantosh (Weber St); Selig (Kent);
Pinheiro (Iowa St); Peloso (Stanford); Corrin (Duke); B Pappasergi (Texas); and M Papalia (Syracuse, and apparently M Papalia thought that picking Syracuse twice was a better bet than choosing either UConn or Seton Hall once).
(It should be noted that more than one of the above did, in fact, use the e-entry form, making their feats even more impressive.)
But we've always thought that picking the same team twice at-large is the greater achievement, and so special congratulations are due to Dean (Auburn), Kennedy (DePaul), and Tiger (Oregon).
But if spelling and math are not your interests, how about reading comprehension? Huffnagle apparently felt that "No Tournament" and "No Automatic Bid" were synonymous,
and declined to select either an Ivy champion or a Pac-10 champion. Joe Mc must have figured that "No Automatic Bid" was optional in some way, as he
chose both a Mountain West and a WAC champion (as well as 34 at-large teams, giving him 65 overall).
What's that? You've read nine long-winded paragraphs and you still don't know who's leading the pool? Well, we can remedy that.
Through games of March 5, the co-leaders are Bobbie Shaid and Reider, each with 35 points. Just behind the leaders are O Brooks, with 34 points, followed by Fitch, Kane, and McGuire, with 31 each. Baumgarten, Creelman, FeVeCeRe, Gorman,
and M Papalia are also in the hunt, with 30 each. At the bottom is the amazing R Seidel, with just 8 points. Even more amazing, four players (Chico Papalia; RC Natalini; P Leach; and self-proclaimed soothsayer Conte) are only
two points ahead of R Seidel, with 10 each.
Undoubtedly due to their chemical composition, the four mutants who entered (DREG; FREG; GRED; and GREF) all currently have identical scores (20).
With our righteous reputation for ruthless ridicule, we can (to an extent) understand entrants who enter under timorous pseudonyms such as Arrowman, McMoose, and S&R.
We are also happy to announce that the person behind the ultimate in wimpy monikers, "Prefers Anonymity," has this year come out of hiding and entered under his true name,
Gladstein; he's even helped us with a programming trick in Excel (but, more on him later). But to prove we're not so cruel, we'd like to offer some friendly advice to the person who entered under the names FeVeCeRe and P2E2R2G2.
First, if you wish to remain anonymous, don't enter your true identity in the box labeled "last name." Second, don't e-mail your entry from the address "email@example.com (DiMarco, Bruce J.)."
(Besides, shouldn't someone named "P2E2R2G2" be auditioning for the role of the droid in the next Star Wars flick instead of entering an NCAA contest?)
One of the things that puzzled us about the AP Top 25 included with the entry form was that Kansas State got 15 votes (in the "others receiving votes" section).
At first blush, this may not seem so odd, but consider: on February 7, when that poll was released, Kansas State was 1 - 9 in their conference, 8 - 13 overall. How could 15 people
responsible for voting for the top 25 vote for a team with that record? But what's really got us worried is that six of our contestants selected Kansas State at-large (Cowboy; Dean; Dodger;
Huffnagle; Kennedy; and Packer). Do they know something we don't know? (We guess that when Kansas State becomes the first team ever selected at-large with an under .500 record, the last laugh will be on us. Or not.)
But inventive strategy is nothing new to this pool. Every year somebody decides to enter a team in their Final 4 that
they don't think will make the Final 8. This year, that honor goes to Dean (Duke in Final 4 but not Final 8) and
Gladstein (the contestant formerly known as "Prefers Anonymity" -- Oklahoma St in Final 4 but not in Final 8).
But the ubiquitous Salus did them one better, choosing Villanova as his Wild Card, but not to make the field of 64.
(And though we intend no malice toward the bilious and callous Salus, it would be a fallacy not to notice that his choices never fail to thrill us.)
Even more daring, Chico Papalia (with whose name we have absolutely no desire to alliterate or rhyme) chose Purdue to make the Final 8 but not to make the field.
Other guileful entrants tried to get on the commissioners good side. Corrin, for example, obviously attempted to curry favor by choosing the commissioners' favorite team,
Duke, as both conference champion and at-large (and it almost worked, too). Still other cunning contestants endeavored to confuse the commissioners (which admittedly is not that hard to do).
P Joseph, for example, chose "St. Francis" to win the Northeast Conference (a league featuring both St. Francis (NY) and St. Francis (PA) -- we gave her St. Francis (NY)). Both Linton and Chico Papalia
chose "Miami" at-large (we gave them both Miami-Florida, rather than Miami-Ohio).
Even more puzzling was the cagey Kane, who seems to have decided that the Ivy League and the MAAC would go championless (leaving those league champions blank), but would still merit at-large consideration, picking Penn (Ivy favorite) and Siena (MAAC favorite)
as at-large teams (giving him 27 conference champs and 37 at-large teams). Silverman (Trans Am and WCC) and Dodger (Colonial) also seem to have decided that certain leagues were not strong enough to merit a champion (although neither of them were clever enough
to choose extra at-large teams to make up for the shortfall).
Other shifty participants made insidious efforts to evade the rules entirely. Silverman and Ubaldini each illegally chose #6 Michigan State as their Wild Card, while Cuz Papalia chose a more subtle route, picking St. Johns both in his Final 8 and as Wild Card.
Three entrants (Dodger, Cowboy, and Packer) chose WAC member Tulsa to win the WCC championship (and somehow we just don't think that will happen).
Every year, the commissioners peruse Mash Leach's pool with the sort of sick fascination usually reserved for train wrecks. As usual, he did not disappoint.
The Monster Mash took fourteen conference champions that were chosen by fewer than 10% of his fellow pool players (Maryland, chosen by Mash and 11 others; Montana (10 others); Iona (9); Indiana (9); UConn (9);
Detroit (6); Missouri (4); New Mexico St (3); Austin Peay (2); Ball St (1); Quinnipiac (1); Jackson St (alone); Santa Clara (alone); and Fla. Int'l. (alone). He also picked ineligible Minnesota at-large.
Rivaling Mash this year is Spitz, who in some ways was more impressive, choosing ten at-large teams that were agreed on by fewer than 5 others (Maine (chosen at-large by 4 others); Lafayette (3); Alcorn St (2); Princeton (1); UMass (1);
Delaware (alone, giving Spitz three teams from the powerful America East Conference); Montana (alone); Charleston (alone); George Mason (alone); and Sam Houston (alone)), as well as SE Missouri St (chosen at-large by 11 others).
And while not Mash-esque (or event Spitz-esque), several other entrants showed significant originality in their choice of conference champions. Chico Papalia chose 8 conference champs who got 12 or fewer votes: Austin Peay; Georgia St; Detroit; No. Arizona; Marshall; Alabama A&M;
Robert Morris; and LSU. McGuire chose 8 such teams (Maryland; Liberty; Iona; Indiana; Creighton; UConn; Kansas; and LSU) but also chose 7 at-large teams that got fewer than 12 votes (Marshall; Maine; Detroit; Siena; Louisiana-Lafayette; SE Missouri St; and Akron). O Brooks chose 7 "original" conference champions
(Bucknell; Creighton; Purdue; Iona; LSU; Hampton; and Seton Hall), and 4 "original" at-large teams (Appalachian St; Marshall; SE Missouri St; and Louisiana-Lafayette). Disbrow went for 7 "original" conference champions as well (New Mexico St; Miami-Fla; Oral Roberts; Maryland; Akron; LSU; and Creighton).
Overall, eleven teams were unanimous choices to make the field (Duke; Ohio St; Indiana; Maryland; Cincinnati; Michigan St; Stanford; Syracuse; Temple; Auburn; and Arizona), with another 21 teams receiving at least 120 (out of 126) votes. Cincinnati was the only unanimous conference champion selection, while
Temple was chosen as Atlantic 10 champion by everybody except Fitch (who chose Dayton). The above does not necessarily bode well for Cincinnati and Temple, however. Already, five teams who received more than 80 votes as conference champions have lost
(Siena (115 votes); Charleston (103); Kent (91); Murray St (90); and Indiana St (83)). Shows what we know.
For National Champion, only five teams got more than four votes. Our favorite is Cincinnati (32 votes); followed by Stanford (29); Duke (29); Michigan St (16); and Temple (14). Four contestants picked Arizona (Arrowman; M Josephs; Packer; and Rogers), Bud Acchione chose Oklahoma State, and
Gladstein (the entrant formerly known as "Prefers Anonymity") chose Ohio State.
Only five Wild Cards got more than 3 votes: St. Johns (49); Purdue (24); Seton Hall (13); Illinois (12); and North Carolina (6 - Byrnes; DREG; Gordon; P Joseph; E Leach; and S&R). Other Wild Cards chosen were DePaul (3 - Creelman; D Kedson; Yantosh); Dayton (3 - Joe Mc; McMullen; Chico Papalia);
Missouri (3 - Brady; Connelly; Cowboy); Virginia (2 - Baumgarten; Selig); Louisville (2 - Butch Acchione; Arrowman); NC State (Gold); Kent (January Man); Oregon (Kleiman); Hofstra (S Karpp); Villanova (Salus); and Navy (Glowacki).
Standings are attached. Tag Team totals and other scoring breakdowns will appear in the next newsletter.
Standings As of March 5, 2000
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|Name||Score||Conf Champs||Wild Card||Champion|
|Bobbie Shaid||35||7||Seton Hall||Temple|
|Oliver W. Brooks||34||5||Seton Hall||Stanford|
|Colin Fitch||31||5||Illinois||Michigan St|
|Troy Kane||31||5||Seton Hall||Duke|
|Richard McGuire||31||5||Seton Hall||Cincinnati|
|Bill Gorman||30||6||Seton Hall||Cincinnati|
|Buddy Acchione||28||5||Illinois||Oklahoma St|
|Donnell Sheppard||28||5||St. John's||Temple|
|Bill Acchione||25||5||St. John's||Duke|
|Jim Budwell||25||5||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Chris Dean||25||5||Seton Hall||Stanford|
|Sandy Disbrow||25||5||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Mary Ellen Donadio||25||5||St. John's||Stanford|
|Ellen Gordon||25||5||North Carolina||Cincinnati|
|Betsy Joseph||25||5||Purdue||Michigan St|
|Matt Josephs||25||5||St. John's||Arizona|
|Mom Kedson||25||5||Seton Hall||Stanford|
|Andy Kennedy||25||5||Seton Hall||Duke|
|Manny Pogach||25||5||Seton Hall||Cincinnati|
|Bill Byrnes||23||4||North Carolina||Cincinnati|
|Bob D'Zuro||23||4||St. John's||Duke|
|Tom Golino||23||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Kevin Kasprzak||23||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Jack Vincent Kedson||23||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Grandpa Kedson||23||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Nick Mahalko||23||4||Purdue||Michigan St|
|McMoose||23||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Bob Peloso||23||4||St. John's||Stanford|
|Mark Piccirillo||23||4||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Kona Rosen||23||4||St. John's||Stanford|
|Mike Scott||23||4||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Rich Warmbier||23||4||St. John's||Duke|
|Bob Huffnagle||21||3||Seton Hall||Michigan St|
|Bill Rourke||21||3||Seton Hall||Cincinnati|
|Barbara Spitz||21||3||St. John's||Duke|
|Jon Broder||20||4||St. John's||Temple|
|Brian Corrin||20||4||Illinois||Michigan St|
|John, Jr. Donadio||20||4||Purdue||Michigan St|
|Kevin Grande||20||4||St. John's||Stanford|
|Bill McGarrigel||20||4||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Tom Pappasergi||20||4||St. John's||Duke|
|Michael Baer||18||3||St. John's||Duke|
|Longin D'Zuro||18||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|John, Sr. Donadio||18||3||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Susan Hanson||18||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|John Joseph||18||3||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Russell Karpp||18||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|Eesara Kedson||18||3||St. John's||Temple|
|Justin Kestner||18||3||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Audrey Kohart||18||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|Brian Pinheiro||18||3||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Joe Rogers||18||3||St. John's||Arizona|
|Norm Rosen||18||3||St. John's||Temple|
|Rick Schlegel||18||3||St. John's||Duke|
|Susan Shaid||18||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|Bob Shaw||18||3||Purdue||Michigan St|
|Rick Simon||18||3||Seton Hall||Duke|
|Michael Donnelly||15||3||St. John's||Duke|
|Michael Einbinder-Schatz||15||3||St. John's||Temple|
|Barry Gladstein||15||3||Illinois||Ohio State|
|Phoebe Joseph||15||3||North Carolina||Temple|
|Ed Leach||15||3||North Carolina||Cincinnati|
|M Linton||15||3||St. John's||Stanford|
|Matt Mazeffa||15||3||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Geo. B.||13||2||Illinois||Michigan St|
|Ken Gold||13||2||North Carolina St||Temple|
|Ed Leeds||13||2||St. John's||Stanford|
|Bruno Pappasergi||13||2||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Perry Leach||10||2||St. John's||Michigan St|
|Robert C. Natalini||10||2||St. John's||Cincinnati|
|Richard Seidel||8||1||St. John's||Duke|