Tuesday, March 9, 2000. 11:42 am. The commissioners received an anonymous tip off the street. A little birdie put a bug in the ear of a mole, who put the finger on Baer. (And how many 1940s film noir clichés can you put in one sentence?) The commissioners may have missed something, despite their vigilance. But Baer was only the tip of the iceberg. When the investigation was completed, the commissioners had uncovered a ring of unscrupulous scoundrels who plied their trade in back rooms and alleys, dealing in illegal Wild Cards... We had already exposed the illegal activity of Silverman, Ubaldini, and Cuz Papalia. But now, law-abiding citizens can rest easy, because Baer (St. John’s in Final 8 and as Wild Card), M Piccirillo (St. John’s in Final 8 and as Wild Card), and Kleiman (#24 Oregon as Wild Card) can no longer hope to prosper from their unlawful acts.

But we can understand why these twisted individuals sought to undermine the rules – like most of the rest of us, they have no other hope of scoring well. Our average score, 157.47, is more than 26 points worse than last year at this time. Only eight out of 126 contestants managed to correctly select more than half of the conference champions, led by Reider (18) and Bobbie Shaid (17). Others performing this "feat" were Baumgarten (16); McMoose (16); S Adams (15); Corrin (15); Creelman (15); and T Pappasergi (15). Three entrants, led by Gold, accurately predicted only seven of the 29 conference champions.

Our only unanimous conference champion choice, Cincinnati, lost in the first round of its conference tournament, sinking us into unanimous ignominy. More than one hundred of us also jinxed Siena (114) and Charleston (103).

In fact, our consensus choice for conference champion was correct in only 13 of 29 conferences. Fully half of the contested conferences (14 of 28, not including the Ivy League) were chosen by 31 or fewer entrants (less than 25% of us). Nine conference champions were chosen by 12 or fewer entrants (less than 10% of us) (including Northern Arizona (12); Iona (10); and Creighton (8 - Bill Acchione, Bud Achione, O Brooks, Conte, Disbrow, Fitch, McGuire, and Yantosh); the other six are listed below). A mind-boggling 6 out of 29 conference champions were selected by two or fewer entrants, including three champions that were chosen by nobody (Ball State (2 - AJOB and M Leach); Lamar (2 - Bill Acchione and Leo L); Jackson State (1 - M Leach); UNCW (0); St. Louis (0); and Arkansas (0).

With that kind of success rate, who can blame Mash Leach for bucking the majority in 25 of the 29 conferences? Well, almost anyone. While Mash scored big with Jackson State, Ball State, Iona, Appalachian St, and Samford, he got only three other conference champions right (Penn, Temple, and Arizona). He is safely ensconced in a tie for 120th place. But the sad thing is that Mash’s success rate going against the majority (6 of 25) and going with fewer than 10% of the group (3 of 14) is actually good compared to Chico Papalia (2 of 17 against the majority; 1 of 8 in "unique" picks); Gorman (4 of 17; 1 of 4); Conte (4 of 16; 1 of 6); ME Donadio (3 of 16; 2 of 5); Dean (3 of 15; 1 of 2); Walker (3 of 14; 0 of 4); Fitch (3 of 14; 1 of 6); Gold (2 of 14; 0 of 2); O Brooks (3 of 14; 2 of 7); and, frankly, most of the rest of us. Gladstein, for example, probably prefers anonymity again after going 0 for 10 in his forays against the majority. Even players who had relative success going against the majority should hold on tight to their day jobs: McGuire (5 of 16; 2 of 8); B Joseph (5 of 15; 1 of 4); Disbrow (5 of 15; 1 of 7); Pogach (4 of 12; 0 of 3); Creelman (4 of 11); and Golino (4 of 11).

Actually, only a handful of us enjoyed enough success in this regard that they should even admit to playing in the pool. The only people who were correct in as many as half of their unorthodox picks were Reider (5 of 10 going against the majority); Bobbie Shaid (4 of 8); McMoose (4 of 6; 2 of 3 in "unique" picks); T Pappasergi (3 of 5); Sheppard (2 of 4); Schlegel (2 of 4); Kohart (1 of 2); Mike Papalia (2 of 2 in unique picks; 6 of 16 against the majority); AJOB (2 of 2 unique; 4 of 11 vs. the majority); Bill Acchione (2 of 3 unique; only 3 of 9 vs. majority); Clark (1 of 1 unique; only 2 of 6 vs. majority); Peter O’Brien (1 of 2 unique; only 2 of 6 vs. majority); and P Joseph (1 of 2 unique; but a pathetic 2 of 10 vs. majority).

Of course, in this pool, picking with the majority might be even more foolhardy. Of the five entrants who went with the majority in all but one or two conferences (J Donadio, Sr. and Nowakowski (each all but 1); Abrams; K Sullivan; and Kohart (each all but 2)) the average score is 158.40, which would be good for 54th place.

In at-large picks, our contestants were largely mystified by the committee’s decision to eschew Vanderbilt (chosen by 122 out of 126 of us) and Virginia (101), as well as SMU (88), Notre Dame (70), NC State (59), Tulane (54), and Arizona St (51). Even more surprising (at least to our entrants) was the selection of Wisconsin (chosen by only 15 people) and UCLA (only 7 - S Adams; Claude; Connelly; Harlan; R Karpp; Kasprzak; and January Man).

Some of us, however, were more mystified than others. It was good news and bad news, for example, for Salus, who didn’t waste an at-large selection on uninvited Villanova, but did make them his Wild Card. (So, please, raise your chalice to the less than sagacious Salus.) It was bad news and bad news for Baumgarten (Virginia), Selig (Virginia), Gold (NC State), January Man (Kent), and Glowacki (Navy - yes, Navy), all of whom not only chose a Wild Card that won’t be playing, but also did waste an at-large selection on those same teams.

Oh, by the way, apparently 3 additional entrants turned out to be non-paying, meaning first place will net $636; second place, $318; and third place, $106.

In fact, our current leader, Reider, with 189 points, is a non-paying entrant. Had he paid the measly $10, he would be $40 richer right now, since he would have won the $50 prize for leading after selection of the field. Presumably, this means nothing to Reider, who obviously is playing for the sheer joy of competition. We admire his principles.

But among the greedy, Baumgarten wins the 50 bucks, having garnered 182 points. The courageous Bobbie Shaid turned in a valiant effort, but she ended up one point back, with 181. Also close were McMoose (179); S Adams (177); Kennedy (175); Kestner (173); Arrowman (172); Harlan (172); and J Joseph (170).

So far behind that we’re considering asking him to pay us $50 is Rourke with 131 points. Close enough to Rourke that we could have just as easily been ridiculing them are Gold (137); Chico Papalia (139); Conte (139); Packer (142); Mash Leach (142 - now there’s a surprise); and Cowboy (142).

And in what will likely end up part of a "60 Minutes" exposé, our four mutant entrants (DREG, FREG, GRED, and GREF) all still have identical scores (161 points, 13 correct conference champs).

Our favorites for the Final 8 are Duke (122), Cincinnati (117), Stanford (114), Michigan St (110), and Temple (106). Next were Arizona (75), Tennessee (54), Oklahoma St (50), Ohio St (47), Syracuse (41), Kentucky (24), Florida (24), Auburn (19), Maryland (15), Texas (15), Tulsa (14), UConn (12), Indiana (12), Iowa State (9 - B D’Zuro; DREG; GREF; Kane; JV Kedson; M Leach; Ch Papalia; Reider; Schlegel); LSU (8 - Alberts; Lou C; Corrin; L D’Zuro; ME Donadio; D Kedson; Ch Papalia; Walker); St. John’s (7 - Baer; Creelman; Gold; Henderson; S Karpp; Cz Papalia; M Piccirillo); Utah (5 - Bud Acchione; L D’Zuro; Joe Mc; Pat O’Brien; Reider); Oklahoma (2 - January Man; Manute); Miami FL (Pogach); Illinois (Broder); Penn (S Karpp), Purdue (Ch Papalia); Siena (Rourke); and North Carolina (S Karpp).

The only person to choose a Final 8 team that was ultimately uninvited was Rourke, who undoubtedly was upset after Iona burnt Siena.

Our top Final 4 picks are also Cincinnati (95), Duke (89), Stanford (88), Michigan St (65), and Temple (56). After them, other than Arizona (35), no other team received more than 11 votes: Ohio St (11); Tennessee (11); Syracuse (10); Oklahoma St (9); Kentucky (6 - AJOB; O Brooks; Disbrow; P2E2R2G2; Simon; Wanger); Auburn (5 - Cowboy; Kane; D Leach; Joe Mc; Warmbier); Iowa St (5 - B D’Zuro; GREF; Kane; M Leach; Ch Papalia); Florida (3 - Fitch; FREG; Gorman); Indiana (3 - January Man; Silverman; Ubaldini); LSU (2 - Lou C; L D’Zuro); UConn (2 - S Karpp; Rourke); Maryland (2 - Kane; Kennedy); Texas (2 - M Leach; C Papalia); Tulsa (2 - Brady; Glowacki); St. John’s (Henderson); Illinois (Broder); and Oklahoma (Manute).

A listing of everybody’s Final 8 and Final 4 picks may be found on the web site (http://members.aol.com/DKNoFish/PreNCAA.htm).

However, picking Final 8 and 4 teams is not the same as picking Final 8 and 4 teams in different regions. Three contestants have five (5) of their Final 8 in a single region: Conte (South - Stanford, Cincinnati, Ohio St, Tennessee, and Tulsa); P Leach (East - Duke, Temple, Oklahoma St, Florida, and Indiana); and Kane (Midwest - Michigan St, Iowa St, Maryland, Syracuse, and Auburn). Five entrants have seven (7) of their Final 8 PLUS their Wild Card tied up in two regions (Bud Acchione (East & Midwest); Dean (South & East); E Leach (South & East); Kleiman (South & East); and Brady (South and East), while seven others have 7 of 8 in two regions but have their Wild Card elsewhere (Clark (South & East); Glowacki (South & East; WC not invited); J Joseph (South & East); Kestner (South & East); K Sullivan (South & East); Baumgarten (East & South; WC not invited); and McMullen (South & East)). Forty-three entrants have four or more Final 8 selections in one region, and another 80 have three of their Final 8 in one region. Only Harlan, K Rosen (a fish), and Corrin avoided this fate.

Every single one of us has at least two Final 4 teams in one region. Sixteen others go further and have three (3) of their Final 4 in one (1) region (Byrnes (South); Bud Acchione (East); DREG (South); Conte (South); Geo B (South); Budwell (South); Glowacki (South); K Sullivan (South); Reider (East); Tiger (South); Brady (South); Silverman (East); Seidel (South); McMullen (South); Disbrow (South); and Kane (Midwest). Of those, five are so unbalanced it’s a wonder they can walk, having also loaded their Wild Card into the same region (Byrnes; Bud Acchione; DREG; Reider; and Brady).

Being commissioners, we have recently commissioned a physiological study to determine whether something in the Y chromosome inhibits an individual’s ability to score well in our pool. This year’s results will add to the body of research as, once again, females (avg. 158.11) are outscoring males (avg. 157.30). A secondary study is being considered to determine whether the aging process has a similar effect, as children (158.75) currently enjoy a comfortable lead over their adult counterparts.

We have also been approached by biologists who believe that one’s physical environment may be an important factor in predicting potential pool success. After examining their research, we believe there may be something to their theory. At this time, individuals who live in bodies of water (i.e., fish) average 164.00, significantly better than those who reside in toxic waste (i.e., mutants, who average 161.00), those who reside in New Jersey (or is that redundant with the previous category?) (who average 157.47), those who live wherever they please (i.e., felines, who average 156), and those who live in slimy pits (i.e., lawyers, who average 154.08). The average for humans is smack-dab in the middle, at 157.73. (Does that mean that if you cross a fish and a lawyer, you’ll get a human? Sounds like a worthy experiment.)

Our results so far could also bolster sociological theories about urban flight, as Philadelphia suburbanites in New Jersey (157.67) and Pennsylvania (157.55) both lead urban Philadelphians (156.10). North Jersey (157.75) and South Jersey (157.67) are virtually deadlocked. The greater metropolitan New York City area (161.25), the deep South (159.50), and Western Pennsylvania (159.11) are ahead of them all, however. At the bottom, regionally, are the Baltimore/Washington area (155.50) and upstate New York (148.50). The proliferation of telephone area codes may also have sociological implications, as "splitoff" area codes 610 (158.50) and 856 (158.40) both have higher averages than 215 (157.15) and 609 (157.67) the original area codes from which they split.

The always popular Tag Team competition is as exciting as ever, with the ever-expanding "Arnie’s Army of Bridge Players and Stock Brokers" (now up to 14: Selig; AJOB; Brooks; Dean; Abrams; N Rosen; K Rosen; Clark; Connelly; Brady; M Josephs; D Josephs; Silverman; and Gordon) enjoying a narrow margin over the "Friends of JJ" ("only" 10: J Joseph; B Joseph; P Joseph; ME Donadio; J Donadio, Sr.; J Donadio, Jr.; M Papalia; Cuz Papalia; Chico Papalia; and Warmbier), 157.57 to 157.10. Close enough to make it a three or four team contest are the Nova Gang (Bill Acchione, Bud Acchione, Butch Acchione, and Golino) and the Kedson/Shaid Contingent (D Kedson, E Kedson, JV Kedson, G Kedson, M Kedson, B Shaid, S Shaid, and Rourke) who both average 156.25. As always, the Leach Clan (E Leach, P Leach, D Leach, M Leach, Pogach, and McGuire) trails distantly, averaging only 152.50. The Karpp/Disbrow crowd (R Karpp, S Karpp, Disbrow) (152.00) and the Natalinis (RC Natalini, Claude, Conte) (150.00) ought to think about family therapy.

Within the Friends of JJ, the Joseph family (160.00) lead both the Donadios (155.33) and the Papalias (154.33), but Warmbier (162) is ahead of them all. (Although we think we’d probably get more enjoyment out of a Coldbier…) Although the three Alliterative Acchiones (156.67) have a slightly better average than the Nova Gang as a whole, limiting the Leach Clan to members named "Leach" would (as usual) reduce its average, to 150.00.

So far, the most successful name in the pool is Mark (or Marc) (Reider, Tiger, Piccirillo, & Kleimer), with an average of 164.50. Trying to get their names in lights (or in print, as the case may be) are the Brians (Corrin, Creelman, Pinheiro, average of 161.33), the Jon/Johns (Broder, J Donadio, Jr., J Donadio, Sr., 160.25), the Bobs (Peloso, Shaw, Huffnagle, RC Natalini, D’Zuro, B Shaid, McMullen, 158.00), the Joes (Mc, Rogers, Glowacki, 157.33), and the Mikes (Baer, Papalia, Ubaldini, Scott, Coach Doc, McMoose, Einbinder-Schatz, Manute, Donnelly, 157.00). It looks like it’s a down year for Ricks (McGuire, Schlegel, Simon, Salus, Seidel, Warmbier, avg. 154.00), Bills (Rourke, Gorman, Acchione, Byrnes, McGarrigel, 153.6), and Susans (Abrams, Hanson, Shaid, 152.67).

Among employers, Vibroplating (166.00) is leading, followed by Urban Engineering (159.31), PaDOT (158.13), Delaware Investment (157.78), IMC, Ltd. (153.67), and Self (150.00). Among the leisurely, Students (158.33) lead retired people (153.33).

Standings are attached. All-Name teams and Mascot Trivia will appear in the next newsletter.

Standings - Through Selection of the Field
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NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampion
Marc Reider18918IllinoisDuke
Neil Baumgarten18216VirginiaCincinnati
Bobbie Shaid18117Seton HallTemple
McMoose17916St. John'sMichigan St
Sarah Adams17715IllinoisStanford
Andy Kennedy17514Seton HallDuke
Justin Kestner17313St. John'sCincinnati
Laura Harlan17214IllinoisCincinnati
John Joseph17013St. John'sCincinnati
Jeff Clark16914PurdueTemple
FeVeCeRe16914St. John'sCincinnati
Nick Mahalko16914PurdueMichigan St
Manny Pogach16914Seton HallCincinnati
Brian Corrin16815IllinoisMichigan St
Brian Creelman16815DePaulTemple
Tom Pappasergi16815St. John'sDuke
Paul Brady16713MissouriCincinnati
Matt Josephs16614St. John'sArizona
Donnell Sheppard16614St. John'sTemple
Randy Wanger16512IllinoisDuke
Bill Acchione16413St. John'sDuke
Claude16413St. John'sTemple
Bob D'Zuro16413St. John'sDuke
Audrey Kohart16413St. John'sStanford
Joe Rogers16413St. John'sArizona
Kona Rosen16413St. John'sStanford
Geo. B.16311IllinoisMichigan St
Bill Byrnes16311North CarolinaCincinnati
Mike Papalia16314PurdueDuke
Brett Connelly16212MissouriStanford
Grandpa Kedson16212St. John'sMichigan St
Mom Kedson16212Seton HallStanford
Chris Nowakowksi16212PurdueStanford
Rick Schlegel16212St. John'sDuke
Rich Warmbier16212St. John'sDuke
DREG16113North CarolinaCincinnati
GREF16113St. John'sDuke
M Linton16113St. John'sStanford
Matt Mazeffa16113St. John'sCincinnati
Cuz Papalia16110Cincinnati
Mike Scott16113St. John'sCincinnati
January Man16014KentCincinnati
John, Jr. Donadio15912PurdueMichigan St
Kevin Kasprzak15912St. John'sMichigan St
Jack Vincent Kedson15912St. John'sMichigan St
Ed Leach15912North CarolinaCincinnati
Ed Leeds15912St. John'sStanford
Manute15912St. John'sStanford
Bob Shaw15912PurdueMichigan St
Troy Kane15810Seton HallDuke
Bill McGarrigel15813St. John'sMichigan St
Rick Simon15810Seton HallDuke
Susan Abrams15711PurdueCincinnati
Coach Doc15711PurdueStanford
Longin D'Zuro15711St. John'sStanford
John, Sr. Donadio15711St. John'sCincinnati
Ellen Gordon15711North CarolinaCincinnati
Kevin Grande15711St. John'sStanford
Russell Karpp15711St. John'sStanford
Peter O'Brien15711PurdueDuke
Mark Piccirillo15711Cincinnati
Norm Rosen15711St. John'sTemple
S&R15711North CarolinaStanford
Mark Tiger15711PurdueStanford
Buddy Acchione15612IllinoisOklahoma St
Al Alberts15612PurdueDuke
Lou C.15612IllinoisTemple
Sandy Disbrow15612St. John'sCincinnati
Barry Gladstein1569IllinoisOhio State
Phoebe Joseph15612North CarolinaTemple
Joe Mc15612DaytonDuke
Bob Peloso15612St. John'sStanford
Jon Broder15513St. John'sTemple
Tom Golino15513St. John'sMichigan St
Susan Hanson15510St. John'sStanford
David Kedson15510DePaulDuke
Marc Kleiman15510Duke
Leo L.15513PurdueDuke
Michael Einbinder-Schatz15411St. John'sTemple
Colin Fitch1548IllinoisMichigan St
Betsy Joseph15411PurdueMichigan St
Eesara Kedson15411St. John'sTemple
Patrick O'Brien15411PurdueDuke
Kate Sullivan15411PurdueCincinnati
Clinton Walker15411PurdueCincinnati
Oliver W. Brooks1539Seton HallStanford
Jim Budwell1539St. John'sCincinnati
Bruno Pappasergi15312St. John'sCincinnati
Joe Glowacki15210NavyDuke
Bill Gorman15210Seton HallCincinnati
Bob Huffnagle15210Seton HallMichigan St
Jay Yantosh15213DePaulStanford
Michael Baer15111Duke
David Josephs15111IllinoisStanford
Butch Acchione1509LouisvilleCincinnati
Chris Dean1509Seton HallStanford
Mary Ellen Donadio1509St. John'sStanford
Domino Leach1509PurdueDuke
Richard Salus1509VillanovaStanford
Perry Leach14910St. John'sMichigan St
Arnold Selig14910VirginiaDuke
Brian Pinheiro14811St. John'sCincinnati
Barbara Spitz14811St. John'sDuke
Rob McMullen1479DaytonStanford
Robert C. Natalini1479St. John'sCincinnati
Richard McGuire14610Seton HallCincinnati
Richard Seidel14610St. John'sDuke
Susan Shaid1467St. John'sStanford
Paula Silverman14610Cincinnati
Michael Donnelly1458St. John'sDuke
Jack Henderson1458PurdueDuke
Michael Ubaldini1449Stanford
Sam Karpp1437HofstraTemple
Cowboy1428MissouriMichigan St
Mash Leach1428IllinoisStanford
Packer1428Seton HallArizona
Frank Conte1398PurdueCincinnati
Chico Papalia1398DaytonTemple
Ken Gold1377North Carolina StTemple
Bill Rourke13110Seton HallCincinnati