Each February, the Commissioners cry their annual mantra into the uncaring wind: "This year, may our contestants get a clue. This year, may our contestants get a clue…" And this year? Well, let’s just say we’ve learned to live with disappointment. Of the thirteen conference champions decided so far, our collective favorite has won only seven. (Actually, disappointment is relative – we’re actually doing a lot better as a group than we were last year at this time.)

Altogether, 117 people have entered the contest – not bad considering our server was down for almost a week. 101 have paid (although a few others insist their check is in the mail), making first place worth $516, second place worth $258, and third place worth $86. $100 will go to the leader as of Monday, March 12, 2001.

The server going down was not the only excitement in Commisionerland. The commissioner population expanded by one on February 27, the contest due date, when Brandon Jeremy Kedson was born. Fortunately, Brandon was considerate enough to wait until after the 4 p.m. deadline to be born, entering the world at 6:23 p.m. The crafty lad was also clever enough to get his entry in while still in the womb (although apparently womb-TV doesn’t get ESPN – Brandon is currently tied for 72nd place).

This is the first year that the contest entry form has been completely computerized and many predicted – due to the fact that the form made it physically impossible to misspell a team name, pick a team twice, and/or choose the wrong number of teams – that we’d have less to write about in our newsletters. No doubt these armchair prophets also think the stock market is still too low.

Although the computer wouldn’t let them misspell the teams, at least two entrants – Connelly and B Pappasergi – somehow managed to misspell their own e-mail address.

In addition, computers seldom enhance reading comprehension skills. So it should come as no surprise that five entrants (Conte; Ostro; Linton; O Brooks; and R Wanger) chose Richmond as the Colonial Conference champion. Yes, that Richmond, the one with the word "ineligible" next to its name on the form. (For the record, they’ll all get 3 points credit if Richmond is selected at-large.)

Nor, historically, does a reliance on computers tend to improve one’s ethics. As always, several conniving contestants have subtly sought to gain advantage by flaunting the wild card rules. This year, J Gunn broke one wild card rule by choosing Michigan State (#6 in the Top 25 included in the entry form), and three entrants broke the other wild card rule by choosing a wild card that was already in their Final 4 or Final 8 (Rourke chose Siena as wild card and in his Final 8; while S&R and R Wanger chose UCLA as wild card, in their Final 8, AND in their Final 4). Special mention goes to J Greene, who for good measure broke both wild card rules, choosing #1 North Carolina as both his wild card and in his Final 8.

One of our favorite subjects, Salus, declined to enter this year’s contest. Perhaps he was attempting to avoid notoriety in this year’s newsletters, but it’s silly to assume that something so spurious and surreptitious could stop us from unceremoniously sassing Salus. Also missing for the first time since 1991 was an entry from media darling Mash Leach. But don’t fret – Mash’s replacement on the Leach Clan roster, the mysteriously named Droopy Leach, is proving to be a worthy successor. The Droopster chose Maine, Niagara, UNC Ashville, Ohio University, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico, and Youngstown State, and is currently in dead last place with 5 points, having correctly chosen exactly one (1) conference champion out of thirteen. Better than Droopy (though not by much) are Ostro and Baer, with 15 points each, M Einbinder-Schatz, with 18, and M Josephs and Corrin, with 20 each.

On the other end of the ledger, the youthful P Joseph is currently in first place with 50 points, having correctly predicted an amazing (for us, anyway) ten out of thirteen correctly. Not far behind P Joseph are Joe Mc and Morrison, each with 46 points, followed by six tied with 45 points (Bosse; G Johnson; Rugani; Selig; D Simon; and P Young). Interestingly, three non-paying entrants (Morrison; Bosse; and Rugani) are tied for fourth or better. We’re sure there’s a lesson there, but we can’t quite figure out what it is.

In a frightening scientific development, the mutants are expanding. This year we received two mutant entries, FREGRED ERGEF and GREEFREG FREEGREEF. We think there’s something wrong with their keyboard.

Every year, the commissioners find themselves in a quandary when it comes to contestants choosing against the majority. Although our first impulse when someone is the only contestant to pick, for example, Yale (as Connelly did), is to ridicule, given our collective record over the years it could be persuasively argued that, in this contest, it is significantly more ridiculous to pick with the majority.

So, we can’t make up our mind about someone like Joe Mc, who chose three teams in his Final 4 that were chosen by four or fewer additional entrants (Kansas (1 of 5), Kentucky (1 of 2), Syracuse (1 of 2)). We hesitate to judge B Brooks, who chose Wake Forest (1 of 7), Georgetown (1 of 2), Arkansas (only), and Wyoming (only) into his Final 8. And we don’t know quite what to say about J Greene who chose ten teams as conference champions that fewer than 10% of our contestants agree with (Illinois St (1 of 10); Ohio U (1 of 10); UNC Asheville (1 of 9); Drexel (1 of 5); Maryland-Baltimore County (1 of 5); Southern Mississippi (1 of 5); Weber St (1 of 4); Wisconsin (1 of 3); Harvard (1 of 2); and Oklahoma State (only)).

But this year, one entrant has left us totally speechless (well, almost). Always a tad unorthodox, Spitz has cranked it up to a new level. Her choices of Cleveland State (1 of 10); UNC Asheville (1 of 9); Maryland-Baltimore County (1 of 5); SMU (1 of 4); Arkansas State (1 of 3); Georgia (1 of 2); and Texas-San Antonio (only) were certainly noteworthy, but it’s really her at-large selections that set her apart. Taking the Selection Committee’s big-conference bias to its logical extreme, Spitz has selected all eleven Big Ten teams to make the field (yes, even Northwestern), and eight Big East teams. Obviously attempting to win the contest by stealth and surprise, her at-large selections from the Big East included bold choices like Seton Hall and Rutgers, a team that couldn’t even make the Big East tournament, but not boring, obvious Providence. Her cagily crafted entry also included at-large selections of Kent St (1 of 2 at-large); Colorado (1 of 2); U Mass (1 of 2); Boston Univ. (only); Florida State (only); Kansas State (only); Michigan (only); North Carolina State (only); and Princeton (only). But perhaps reasoning that it was not enough simply to choose teams unlikely to be selected by other contestants, she went a step further and declined to select ANY at-large teams from traditionally one-and-done conferences like the PAC 10 and the SEC.

But we’re not done with Spitz. She’s got Syracuse (1 of 8), Iowa (1 of 2), and Michigan (only) in her Final 8. Her champion? A Big 10 team, certainly. Michigan State? Too obvious. Illinois? Nah. Try Michigan, who she selected at-large despite the team’s 10-18 record. Truly daring. And who can say whether Spitz’s selections are brilliant or merely a frivolous waste of ten dollars? We’re not talking.

On the entry form, the commissioners foolishly asked, "Anything else you want to tell us?" Best answer was turned in by Dr. Kate Sullivan, who advised, "never eat anything bigger than your head." Most ominous was Bland, who opined, "I will destroy you." (Perhaps Bland, who is currently tied for 31st place was referring to his scintillating score? We’ll be following this one throughout the tournament.)

Ten teams were unanimous selections by our entrants (BC; Duke; Illinois; Maryland; Michigan State; North Carolina; Stanford; Syracuse; Texas; and Virginia). Fourteen other teams were chosen by 113 or more (out of 117) entrants. There were no unanimous conference champions, the closest being Georgia State and McNeese State, with 111 each.

Only two teams got more than 8 votes for National Champion: Duke (51) and Stanford (23). Also chosen, North Carolina (8 – B Brooks; Droopy Leach; Leeds; G Johnson; G Arms; Ostro; J Gunn; T Pappasergi); Illinois (7 – B D’Zuro; Domino Leach; George B; J Connell; J Greene; Kasprzak; M Josephs); Michigan State (7 – A Gatto; Claude; D Koufax; J Sixpack; Perez; Mike Mc; Hastings); Arizona (5 – Alberts; Nowakowski; Clark; Brady; Crane); Iowa State (5 – DiMarco; D Josephs; GREEFREG FREEGREEF; R Wanger; Tyler); Virginia (3 – Whiteside; Cardozzi; Gold); Florida (2 – E Green; Lawsin); Kansas (2 – Joe Mc; Quattro); UCLA (2 – Kovolski; Haklar); Boston College (Bebee); and Michigan (Spitz).

And only three teams got more than 8 Wild Card votes: UCLA (34); Kentucky (33); and St. Joseph’s (15). Other wild card selections: Providence (8 – Kovolski; Ide; Grande; Linton; Baer; P Young; Hastings; S Smith); Texas (5 – Connelly; Hurrell; Sixpack; Perez; Warmbier); Creighton (3 – Kohart; Kasprzak; Burger); Gonzaga (2 – G Arms; Yantosh); Temple (2 – M Einbinder-Schatz; Lawsin); California (2 – Naugle; Glowacki); Georgia (Domino Leach); Georgia Tech (A Gatto); Ohio State (George B); Oklahoma State (Mahalko); South Florida (Rugani); Tulsa (Conte); UConn (Iorio); and Western Kentucky (Clark).

More detailed breakdowns of everybody’s picks may be found at the new Pool Central at the official Pre-NCAA Contest web site, www.DKNoFish.com. Standings are below. Tag Team totals, etc., will start in the next newsletter.

Standings As of March 8, 2001
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NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampion
Phoebe Joseph5010St. Joseph'sStanford
Joe Mc468UCLAKansas
Rick Morrison468St. Joseph'sDuke
Brett Bosse459KentuckyStanford
Geoffrey Johnson459UCLANorth Carolina
Paul Rugani459South FloridaDuke
Arnold Selig459KentuckyDuke
David Simon459KentuckyDuke
Pete Young459ProvidenceDuke
Phyllis Linda Kedson417UCLADuke
Peter Bebee408KentuckyBoston College
Jon Broder408KentuckyStanford
Cowboy Dallas408St. Joseph'sDuke
Bruce DiMarco408St. Joseph'sIowa State
MaryEllen Donadio408KentuckyStanford
Elliot Green408KentuckyFlorida
Jimmy Gunn408North Carolina
Marc Kleiman408UCLADuke
Christopher Kovolski408ProvidenceUCLA
Perry Leach408UCLAStanford
Marc Reider408UCLAStanford
William Tyler408KentuckyIowa State
Curt Whiteside408UCLAVirginia
Grover Arms387GonzagaNorth Carolina
Philip Burger387CreightonDuke
Colin Fitch387KentuckyDuke
Jason Iorio387UConnDuke
Polly Shaffer387St. Joseph'sDuke
Adam Waldbaum387KentuckyStanford
Rich Warmbier387TexasStanford
Bill Acchione357UCLADuke
Bill B357UCLADuke
Arrowman Bill357UCLADuke
Calvin Bland357UCLADuke
Paul Brady357KentuckyArizona
Jay Cardozzi357KentuckyVirginia
Jeff Clark357Western KyArizona
Claude357KentuckyMichigan St
Jeff Connell357UCLAIllinois
Brett Connelly357TexasDuke
Simon Crane357KentuckyArizona
Joshua Einbinder-Schatz357St. Joseph'sStanford
FREGRED ERGEF357KentuckyStanford
Joe Glowacki357CincinnatiDuke
Susan Hanson357UCLAStanford
Laura Harlan357KentuckyDuke
DS Harvie357UCLADuke
Peter Hastings357ProvidenceMichigan St
Kevin Kasprzak357CreightonIllinois
Jack Vincent Rourke Kedson357UCLADuke
Grandpa Kedson357KentuckyDuke
Audrey Kohart357CreightonDuke
Dodger Koufax357St. Joseph'sMichigan St
Domino Leach357GeorgiaIllinois
Josh Lichtman357KentuckyDuke
Marshall Linton357ProvidenceStanford
Packer Lombardi357St. Joseph'sStanford
Robert C. Natalini357KentuckyDuke
Peter O'Brien357UCLAStanford
Mario Quattro357UCLAKansas
Steve Smith357ProvidenceDuke
Bill Thorpe357St. Joseph'sDuke
Randy Wanger357UCLAIowa State
Byron Brooks336St. Joseph'sNorth Carolina
Kevin Grande336ProvidenceDuke
Ed Leach336KentuckyDuke
Nick Mahalko336Oklahoma StStanford
Todd Pappasergi336UCLANorth Carolina
Bruno Pappasergi336KentuckyDuke
Bill Rourke315SienaDuke
Butch Acchione306UCLAStanford
Sarah Adams306KentuckyDuke
George B306Ohio StateIllinois
Oliver Brooks306UCLADuke
Bob D'Zuro306UCLAIllinois
Coach Doc306UCLAStanford
John Donadio Sr.306UCLAStanford
Ashley Gatto306Georgia TechMichigan St
Chris Hurrell306TexasDuke
David Josephs306UCLAIowa State
B Kedson306KentuckyDuke
Ed Leeds306KentuckyNorth Carolina
Matt Mazeffa306UCLADuke
Paul Naugle306CaliforniaDuke
Chris Nowakowski306UCLAArizona
Ryan Peters306UCLADuke
Rick Schlegel306UCLADuke
Rick Simon306KentuckyDuke
Joe Sixpack306TexasMichigan St
Kelly Wanger306St. Joseph'sDuke
Albert Alberts285UCLAArizona
David Ide285ProvidenceDuke
Naomi Joseph285UCLADuke
David Kedson285KentuckyDuke
Barbara Spitz285St. Joseph'sMichigan
Neil Baumgarten255UCLADuke
Frank Conte255TulsaDuke
John Donadio Jr.255KentuckyDuke
Ken Gold255KentuckyVirginia
John Joseph255St. Joseph'sDuke
Winnie Lawsin255TempleFlorida
Mike Mc255KentuckyMichigan St
Bob Peloso255UCLADuke
Miguel Perez255TexasMichigan St
Kate Sullivan255KentuckyStanford
Jay Yantosh255GonzagaStanford
Jim Greene234Illinois
Bob Huffnagle234KentuckyDuke
Brian Corrin204UCLAStanford
Matt Josephs204KentuckyIllinois
Michael Einbinder-Schatz183TempleDuke
Mike Baer153ProvidenceStanford
Jerry Ostro153St. Joseph'sNorth Carolina
Droopy Leach51St. Joseph'sNorth Carolina