This was her year. She could feel it. She didn't know how, or why, but this was the year she'd finally do it. No more sleepless nights, second-guessing her choice of Cal-Santa Barbara; no more summers enduring the taunts of her wicked brother-in-law. After 142 years of bad press, the Booth family name would be redeemed. She would finally broadside Whiteside. This was her year.

Alas for Booth, it was not to be. After selection of the field, Whiteside is crushing his sister-in-law, 175 to 150. He probably invites her to dinner and makes her do the dishes, too. Plus, her champion is Wisconsin. Other grudge matches, however, are shaping up as a lot more interesting than the actual Tournament. Sullivan is less than a savvy Final 8 guess behind her annual whipping boy, B Peloso, 186 to 179. She's also tied with her husband, D'Zuro (179), and is just a whisper behind her deceased mother-in-law, Haklar (180). B Peloso is not only holding off Sullivan, but also his Duke-loving wife, M Peloso, who has 183 (not that there's anything wrong with Duke-loving). And some families are playing at an even higher level -- Coach Doc is tied for 10th place in the entire pool, but is second place in his own living room, as he trails S Adams, 188 to 184. And D Josephs is in fourth place, just four points behind the leader, and yet is still three points behind his offspring, M Josephs, 192 to 189.

K Ripley insists her mission in life is to flummox her father, Wanger, but so far she's eating the old man's dust, 180 to 176. At least K Ripley has started married life on the right foot, sitting comfortably on top of her husband, P Ripley, 176 to 163. The Paston brothers are involved in a tight race, with Matt Paston (176) currently leading J Paston (175) and Mike Paston (165). In a father/son matchup, O Brooks is pounding B Brooks, 174 to 155. And while we're tempted to say "Who's your daddy?" to L Schlegel (187), fact is we should be saying it to his daddy (R Schlegel, 171). Leach patriarch, E Leach (183) can call himself head of the family, with a sizeable lead over P Leach (160), but once again we're concerned about grandchild abuse in the Leach household. True, little Samantha Leach has already surpassed her total from 2006, 176 to 171, but poor Madison Leach has been forced against her will into taking over her sister's last-place act, and trails the field with only 140 points. Another child, last year's champion L Donadio, is holding her own with 185 points, but rumor has it the rest of the Donadio family has petitioned to change their name to Leach, as J Donadio, ME Donadio, Jr Donadio, and N Donadio have scores ranging from 158 to 168.

Our overall winner through selection of the field is Rybaltowski, with 193 points, and for that we honor him. Unfortunately for Rybaltowski, honor is all he's going to get, as he took the high road and chose to be a non-paying entrant. So, due to Rybaltowski's high-mindedness, the $100 for leading the pool after selection of the field goes to M Josephs, with 192 points. Altogether we have 80 entrants, with 62 having paid, which means first place will net $267, second place will garner $133.50, and third place will yield $44.50. (It's possible a couple more payments are still "in the mail," but we're not holding our breath.) Those like Rybaltowski -- who value glory and the pure spirit of competition over such mundane concerns such as money -- will get nothing and like it.

After 18 years of newsletters regaling the incompetence of our entrants it gets kind of boring, even to us. Really, does anyone actually care that Madison Leach was the only person to correctly pick Oregon as Pac-10 champ but offset that by choosing as conference champions Jacksonville, Texas Tech, NC-Greensboro, Eastern Washington, NC A&T, Boston U, Arkansas State, and Southeastern Louisiana? But it's a morbid fascination, we can't look away. Sort of like watching Tyler Hansborough's nose get broken 27 times at twelve different angles. (And if you haven't seen it, don't worry; just tune in to CBS this Friday.) No matter how gratuitous it is, we can't resist pointing out that in a year where 18 conferences were won by the number one seed and nine more by the number two seed, there were only four entrants who got as many as 18 conference champs right (Conte, with 19, and M Josephs, D Josephs, and Brenner with 18). Or that out of 80 people, only one (Leeds) looked into his or her crystal ball and saw Arkansas as an at-large team. And, for the record, Samantha Leach almost matched her sister by picking as conference champs Morgan State, St. Joseph's, Maryland, Montana, Notre Dame, Lamar, Quinnipiac, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The only reason she's not looking at a second consecutive last-place finish is she actually guessed right on Albany (1 of 10), Belmont (1 of 10), Creighton (1 of 8), Niagara (1 of 6), Eastern Kentucky (1 of 4), and Miami-Ohio (only). But having said that, you have to admit it is kind of fun to say "Quinnipiac." The commissioners are strongly considering a new rule requiring everyone to pick Quinnipiac every year -- raise your hands if you're with us...

What doesn't get old, even after all these years, is hammering our entrants for rulebreaking. Technology, of course, has robbed us of our fun when it comes to people taking the same team multiple times, or employing creating spelling like "Wiscission," "Arkasis," and "Purrdo." But we can still throw the book at those who try to slip illegal wild cards past us (by choosing teams in the AP Top 25, linked from the entry form), and this year we'd like to embarrass six slinking scofflaws: Millan, who chose #8 Memphis; Yantosh, who took #10 Butler; Kovolski, who tried #11 Marquette; Prati, who tabbed #22 Georgetown; Shadle, who went with #23 Vanderbilt; and this year's top criminal, Matt Paston, who not only chose an illegal wild card (#18 Alabama), but chose one that didn't even make the tournament.

Our most popular champion is UCLA (18), followed by North Carolina (17), Florida (12), Kansas (9), Ohio State (7), and Texas A&M (6). Condolences to Booth, Cowboy, N Donadio, Sakowski, and R Schlegel, who all chose Wisconsin as their National Champion, and O Brooks, who chose Washington State. Three people (George B; B Brooks; S Leach) chose Memphis as their champion, Yantosh took Pitt, and Sedona took Georgetown. Our most popular wild card is Texas (15), followed by Virginia Tech (11), Maryland (11), and Louisville (7). And all these teams got their selectors one wild card point, as did Michigan State (4), Winthrop (3), Boston College (2), Virginia (2), Xavier (1), and Kentucky (1). In fact, other than the seditious six in the previous paragraph, everyone in the pool got at least one wild card point except Conte, Cowboy, Gordon, Packer, and Smith (who all chose Notre Dame); Crowther (Texas Tech); O Brooks (George Washington); Nowakowski (BYU); Dodger (Kansas St); Kasprzak (Drexel); and Kleiman (Missouri St). Special kudos go to Dodger, Kasprzak, and Kleiman, who all chose wild cards that weren't invited to the Dance. But if you can't stand the success, don't fret -- only L Donadio (UNLV), M Leach (UNLV), B Peloso (UNLV), Brenner (Tennessee), and Sikowski (Tennessee) managed more than one wild card point.

In a year where all four number one seeds, three number two seeds, and three number three seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, with no seed lower than seventh, a statistician might be surprised to hear that almost half of a random population of 80 orangutans had already lost two of their Final Eight. Then again, our pool entrants are not your average ape. Twenty-three contestants are already down two of the eight -- including wannabe cheesehead Sikowski (whose Badger State dreams were dashed when Marquette and Wisconsin went down early) and O Brooks, both of whom have already lost two of their Final Four. Nine contestants have said bye-bye to three of their Final Eight, including two Pastons and two Leaches (Jake Paston, Mike Paston, Dodger, Selig, Packer, Baumgarten, S Leach, and of course M Leach). Under ordinary circumstances, Sedona and R Simon would have to hang their heads, both having only four of their Eight remaining, but in a true performance of the ages, Gordon has already lost five of his Final Eight (Duke, Kentucky, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin), and THREE (!!!) of his Final Four (Duke, Texas, Wisconsin). For those who want to place a few bets, his champion is Kansas.

In the age-old name game, we have a thriller that only the good Lord could mediate, as Matthew (187.0), leads Mark (172.80), Luke (180.33), and John (168.17). Alas, Paul (163.0) is showing why he couldn't get a book in the Bible named after him. On a more secular note, George (174.0) is leading John (168.17) and Paul (163.0), while apparently Ringo couldn't figure out the entry form. Holy influence aside, Matthew (187.0) leads all names, followed by David (182.0), Kevin (179.0), Jake (178.5), Brett (178.5), Ed (178.0), Bob (177.75), Chris (176.0), Nick (174.5), and Jeff (173.5). For the second straight year, you definitely do not want to be like Mike (168.75) or Rick (167.5).

In a Darwinian struggle among species, felines lead the way (181.0), surviving much better than scaly anteaters (175.0) and humans (173.22). Lawyers, of course, have the most urgent need to evolve, slogging well behind the others at 172.0. Without proof that Tar Heels (176.0) are a legitimate form of life, we're forced to put them in their own category, where by definition they'll finish last. Males (173.81) are leading females (171.50), but if you don't count the Leach sisters the women (174.2) are on top. Those of the spirit world (180.0) obviously have better connections than the rest of us. Children (172.7) need to go to school, although (again) if you take out the Leaches, the kids (178.6) know a lot more than we do. Our overall average is 174.20.

The best employer is "Self" (179.2) with a commanding lead over PaDOT (172.25), Conrail (171.0), and Urban Engineering (164.2). Among occupations, financial wizards (179.67), medical professionals (179.0) and computer professionals (178.33) are superior to accountants (174.17), attorneys (172.0), and engineers (171.31). And here's our helpful hint of the day: don't let stock professionals (168.0) anywhere near your gambling portfolio. Both teachers (176.67) and coaches (177.5) for once know more than students (172.27).

Natalini and Friends (185.0) are leading the tag team competition over the D'Zurans (180.33), followed by the Wangers (173.0), the Pastons (172.0), and Arnie's Army of Bridge Players (170.8). And while it should go without saying that the Leach Gang (165.0) brings up the rear, the Donadios (167.8) and the Koufax Group (169.6) had better watch their tails.

That's all the fun for now. Next newsletter will include the All Name Team and Mascot Trivia. Standings are below.

Through Selection of the Field (i.e., NOT including wild card points)

Back to Top
NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampionin Final 8in Final 4
Matt Rybaltowski19317MarylandKansas
Matt Josephs19218Virginia TechUCLA
Frank Conte19119Notre DameUCLA
David Josephs18918TexasUCLA
Sarah Adams18816MarylandUCLA
Claude18816LouisvilleNorth Carolina
Luke Schlegel18717TexasOhio St.
Bob Peloso18615UNLVOhio St.
Lucia Donadio18516UNLVOhio St.
Jason DeMaso18414LouisvilleNorth Carolina
Coach Doc18414TexasOhio St.
Laura Harlan18417MarylandNorth Carolina
Brett Brenner18318TennesseeKansas
Edward Leach18315TexasUCLA
Missy Peloso18315Virginia TechFlorida
ESPN Bracketology18216UNLVUCLA
Jake Karlsruher18213Boston CollegeTexas A&M
Marc Kleiman18216Missouri St.North Carolina
Brian Sakowski18216TennesseeWisconsin
Jeff Butscher18114LouisvilleUCLA
Nick Mahalko18117LouisvilleFlorida
Kevin Biebel18015MarylandKansas
Haklar18015MarylandOhio St.
Kevin Kasprzak I18015DrexelNorth Carolina
Randy Wanger18015MarylandUCLA
Bill Acchione17916Virginia TechOhio St.
Bob D'Zuro17916TexasUCLA
Steve Smith17916Notre DameFlorida
Kate Sullivan17916Virginia TechNorth Carolina
John Marshall I17814TexasTexas A&M
John Marshall II17814TexasNorth Carolina
Kevin Kasprzak II17715WinthropNorth Carolina
Chris Kovolski17613Kansas
Samantha Leach17613MarylandMemphis
Chris Nowakowski17613BYUTexas A&M
Matt Paston17616North Carolina
Kelly Ripley17613Michigan St.UCLA
David Kedson17514TexasKansas
Pangolin Palace17514MarylandUCLA
Jake Paston17514XavierFlorida
Curt Whiteside17514TexasKansas
GEORGE B17415WinthropMemphis
Brett Bosse17415TexasFlorida
Oliver Brooks17418Geo. WashingtonWashington St.
H Gato17412Virginia TechTexas A&M
Edward Leeds17316Michigan St.Florida
Sedona17316Virginia TechGeorgetown
Arnold Selig I17316LouisvilleUCLA
Neil Baumgarten17214Michigan St.North Carolina
DeMeo17115Virginia TechUCLA
Dodger17115Kansas St.North Carolina
Bob Huffnagle17115Michigan St.Texas A&M
Rick Schlegel17112MarylandWisconsin
Al Alberts17013LouisvilleTexas A&M
Packer17016Notre DameUCLA
Luke Nowlan16914Boston CollegeNorth Carolina
Cowboy16815Notre DameWisconsin
Nicholas Donadio16812LouisvilleWisconsin
Todd Pappasergi16812Virginia TechUCLA
wayne Crowther16713Texas TechUCLA
Jeff Gordon16614Notre DameKansas
Miguel Perez16614TexasKansas
Mike Paston16512VirginiaKansas
Junior Donadio16410MarylandFlorida
John Donadio16413Virginia TechUCLA
Rick Simon16413MarylandNorth Carolina
Jon Broder16311KentuckyFlorida
Colin Fitch16311Virginia TechFlorida
Paul Ripley16314TexasUCLA
Arnold Selig II16314TexasOhio St.
John Shadle16212North Carolina
Perry Leach16011Virginia TechNorth Carolina
Mike McAtee16011TexasNorth Carolina
Jodi Prati15915Florida
MaryEllen Donadio15810VirginiaNorth Carolina
Josh Millan15714Florida
Byron Brooks15513TexasMemphis
jay yantosh15312Pittsburgh
Nancy Booth1509WinthropWisconsin
Madison Leach1407UNLVFlorida