1997 PRE-NCAA CONTEST NEWSLETTER I

Standings

Itís hard to believe that this pool was being played in the eighties. Well, OK, itís also not true, but the pool has been around since 1990, and although then Vice President Dan Quayle hasnít misspelled "potato" for quite some time, the pool is still going strong. For the eighth straight year, the number of entrants has increased. This year, 123 individuals have decided to test their predictive skill and subject themselves to ridicule. Thus, first prize will be $726, second prize will be $363, and third prize will be $121. Note that this and all future newsletters may be read and/or downloaded from the World Wide Web. Our home page is located at: http://members.aol.com/DKNoFish/

Speaking of spelling, the Commissioners were once again entertained by some of the more innovative attempts to transcribe words which, to be blunt, were already typed on the page directly in front of the would-be speller. Some of our favorites included: "Missipi," "Valaparaiso," "Illoinis St.," "Drexal," "Xaviar," "Fairley Dickinson," "Cinncinatti," "Minnisota," "Minnessotta," "Wiscission," and of course, "Perdue." In a pool first, one entrant actually reported his own spelling error. Kryjek wrote us a note which claimed that he misspelled Fairfield on his pool; he said he spelled it I-O-N-A. We didnít buy it.

Of course, it only stands to reason that such behavior would be exposed in an NCAA-related contest. The NCAA itself has been numerically and geographically challenged for years. (Quick, without looking, how many teams are in the Atlantic 10?) For example, what part of the Atlantic is near Atlantic 10 members Xavier and Dayton? And how come Rice (located in Houston, TX) and Tulsa (Oklahoma) are in the "Mountain" division of the Western Athletic Conference? Even better, how come Colorado State and Wyoming (both in the "Pacific" division of the WAC) are not in the Mountain division? Perhaps silliest of all, how did Troy State (in Troy, Alabama) and Central Connecticut State end up in the Mid-Continent Conference? Of what continent is Connecticut in the middle? Maybe the officials at Central Connecticut thought they were being invited to join the Mid-Connecticut Conference (after all, they probably canít spell either). And, of course, itís been years since either the Atlantic 10 or the Big 10 have actually consisted of ten teams.

With that background, it is hardly surprising that almost 10% of our entrants have problems counting to one (1). An alarming nineteen contestants chose one or more teams twice (and, as always, we are delighted to embarrass them here): Bill Acchione chose Duke as both conference champion and at-large (the Commissioners, who are Duke fans, strongly considered giving Acchione double credit for this laudable double choice, but at the last minute decided against it). Also choosing the same team as a conference champion and at-large were: Johnny Bravo (the entrant formerly known as Raps - Xavier); DíZuro, (Minnesota); Grande (Utah); GRED (South Carolina); Jodi Hastings (Minnesota); D. Josephs (St. Josephís); Kennedy (Illinois St.); Lunardi (Syracuse); Mintz (South Alabama); Ostru (Louisville); Perez (South Carolina); and Bill Shaid (Providence). Aldridge chose Texas Tech twice at-large. Then, then are those entrants that somehow managed to choose multiple duplicate entries. Schwartz chose both Georgetown and Murray St. as conference champion and at-large. Rourke chose Davidson as both conference champ and at-large, and chose Illinois St. twice at-large. AJOB did him one better, choosing Georgetown, Santa Clara, and UNCA as both conference champ and at-large. Best yet, Pat OíBrien chose three teams (South Carolina, Tulsa, and Providence) twice at-large - yes, three duplicates showing on the same page (this is not as easy as it sounds).

As luminous as the achievements listed above may seem, they pale to nothingness beside the awe-inspiring performance turned in by Salus. Remember that name. The Commissioners believe that we have seen a performance that will never be duplicated (no pun intended). This was no choosing of a mere three (or four or five or six) duplicate entries - Salus selected twelve (yes, 12) teams as both conference champion and at-large (and, for posterity, we will list them here: St. Josephís, Drexel, Kansas, Villanova, Utah St., Tulane, Iona, Kentucky, New Orleans, Samford, Utah, and California). Not only that, several of the teams that Salus chose twice donít even figure to make the field once. He also chose Michigan, a team that had been eliminated from the Big 10 race before the pool was due, as Big 10 champion; chose Charleston, a member of the TAAC, to win the Big South (we assumed he meant Charleston Southern and gave him credit); chose "Middle Tech," a team that doesnít exist, to win the OVC (we assumed he expected Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech to merge rosters and make a run at the title, but gave him no credit); and chose Northern Arizona, Liberty, UNCA, Nevada, Utah State, Pacific, Old Dominion, UNCW, Iona, Loyola-Maryland, Bowling Green, Valparaiso, South Alabama, and Navy all at-large. Salus selected three teams from traditional power conferences Big South, Big West, and Colonial, while snubbing such lightweights as the ACC (2 teams), SEC (2), Big East (2), Pac-10 (2), Conference USA (2), Big 12 (1 team), and WAC (1). He liked Maryland and North Carolina enough to take them in his Final 8, but not enough to pick them to make the field. Finally, Salus was the only contestant to break the Wild Card rule this year, choosing St. Josephís both in his Final 8 and as Wild Card. Remember that name.

Perhaps the most remarkable fact of all is that there are twelve other contestants that are either tied with Salus or behind him in the standings: Byrnes; Camposano; Grande; Mash Leach (it wouldnít really be a pool if Mash Leach wasnít near the bottom of the standings, now would it?); Shaw; Baer; Joshua Einbinder-Schatz, Henderson, Manute, Schlegel, Bobbi Shaid, and Aldridge.

But letís move on. In a development that should send chills down your spine, the Commissioners are horrified to report that the Mutants have proliferated (and we donít even want to see the petri dish). In addition to FREG and GRED, we must now come to grips with GREF and ERGEF. Every time we look at an entry form, we half-expect another one to pop up and claw its way out of Mash Leachís stomach. (We can just see the commercial now: "In Fairfield, no one can hear you scream....")

Speaking of weird science, Piccirillo submitted two entry forms under his name, but they appear to have been filled out by two competing entities. The second pool makes eleven conference champion selections that are different from the first, including already mathematically eliminated Michigan, and practically eliminated Arizona. Sounds a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, doesnít it?

Homsher also submitted two pools under his name, but his situation is more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jekyll. The two pools are identical for all 30 conference champions, every single at-large team, 7 of the Final 8, and 2 of the Final 4. This experiment appears to be working, however - Homsher is currently tied (with himself) for first place, with 58 points. Bill Acchione, Gold, Joe Hastings, D. Josephs, Kane, Peter OíBrien, Piccirillo (the Dr. Jekyll version, not the other one), and Whiteside narrowly trail the good doctor, each having 55 points.

For those of you who prepared for the pool by researching on the World Wide Web, youíve probably seen the Blue Ribbon NCAA prediction series, which appears in the ESPNet Sportszone (Go To ESPNet Sportszone). Well, the author of that column is actually a contestant in our pool (Lunardi). The Commissioners always read his column, so we donít quite know what to make of the fact that Lunardi didnít follow his own advice when he submitted his pool. On Wednesday, February 26, we downloaded his predictions off of the Web, but his entry form filled out at the same time had four (4) at-large teams and seven (7) conference champions that were different from his published predictions. Before you jump to any conclusions, however, consider that so far three of the discrepancies have been resolved in favor of his published predictions (at the expense of his score here), and none of them have gone the other way. And, to be certain, his published column didnít choose Syracuse twice, as his entry form did. Perhaps he should have "put his money where his mouth is," whatever that means.

Incidentally, Lunardiís Blue Ribbon publishes an annual NCAA basketball guide that is quite good, and also puts out the Blue Ribbon Tournament Preview, an 80 page volume which is prepared on "Selection Sunday" and is shipped to those who order it in time for Thursdayís first round games. The $9.95 Tournament Preview can be ordered by calling 1-800-828-HOOP.

Several entrants have apparently changed their previously normal sounding names to monikers like Johnny Bravo, Kryjek, Briss, and Chill. Itís none of our business.

But although our contestants may change their names, they rarely change their acts. As always, "strategy" abounds. Wamser, for instance, has chosen a team in his Final 4 (Maryland) that was not included in his Final 8, for the eighth consecutive year. He also was the only entrant to select NE Illinois, Radford, and Weber St. as conference champions, and was in the overwhelming minority with his selections as conference champion of Lamar (1 of 2), Alcorn St. (2), Rider (5), Boston College (9), Miami (Ohio) (10), Louisville (10), S. Carolina St. (16), Bucknell (18), and James Madison (22). Similarly "unique" were Camposano (selected as conference champions: St. Francis PA (only); Florida Intl. (only); St. Peterís (only); Vermont (only); Tennessee Tech (3); Montana (12); Ark.-LR (13); and James Madison (22)), and Bobbie Shaid (selected as conference champions: Texas Tech (only); Purdue (only); No. Iowa (only); Tulsa (5); Rider (5); Tulane (6); Detroit (7); Ohio U. (14); South Carolina (17); UNCW (20); and Providence (20)).

Perry Leach struck gold with Charleston Southern (along with Salus and Mintz), but unfortunately he submitted the rest of his pool (conference champs: Bradley (only); Tennessee Tech (3); NW Louisiana (4); Ill.-Chicago (5); Tulsa (5); Miami (Ohio) (10); Ark.-LR (13); Bucknell (18); and James Madison (22)).

Mash Leachís entry is not as outrageous as usual ("unusual" conference champion predictions: Citadel (only); UNCC (only); Wis.-GB (4); W. Ill. (8); NM St. (9); NC A&T (13); New Mexico (14); Ohio U. (14); and South Carolina (17)) but his score still is. Heís currently tied with Salus for 7th to last place.

Other entrants were even more cunning. Bravo chose South Carolina to make the Final 8 and Final 4, but neglected to pick them into his Final 64. Perez and Schwartz made similar decisions concerning Kentucky (in Final 8 and Final 4, but not on the dance floor), while GRED chose Kentucky into the Final 8 but not into the field.

Cagey contestant Gumbel/Robinson picked "Illinois" to win the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, a league that boasts both Illinois-Chicago and Northern Illinois. Even more calculating was Manute, who chose Northern Illinois (a member of the Midwestern Collegiate) to win the Missouri Valley Conference.

Another interesting strategy belonged to Joyce, who decided to go with only 7 teams in his Final 8. Still more savvy was DíZuro, who apparently decided that no team in the Big Sky conference would be capable of winning the league title (and thus left that league blank), but considered that the committee might still choose Northern Arizona (a Big Sky member) at-large.

As a group, our most popular conference champions were: Princeton (unanimous 123); Charleston (121); Minnesota (120); Mississippi Valley State (118); Kansas (117); UCLA (113); Northern Arizona (109); Valparaiso (108); Kentucky (106); Cincinnati (105); and Butler (105). Overall, ten teams were unanimous selections: Minnesota; UCLA; Duke; St. Josephís; Kansas; Utah; Xavier; Charleston; Princeton; and Wake Forest. Another 17 teams were within 5 votes of being unanimous: Cincinnati (122); South Carolina (122); Villanova (122); North Carolina (121); Arizona (121); New Mexico (120); Georgia (120); Providence (120); Clemson (120); Kentucky (120); Colorado (120); Maryland (120); Iowa St. (119); Louisville (119); Indiana (119); Mississippi Valley St. (118); and Illinois (118).

Our choices as National Champion were shockingly uniform. Only five teams received more than two votes, and only three teams received more than six. Our overwhelming favorite is Kansas (67), followed by Kentucky (24), Wake Forest (14), Minnesota (6 - Connelly, Conte, Cowboy, Pokrass, Joshua Einbinder-Schatz, Spitz), Duke (5 - Bobbie Shaid, Bill Shaid, D.Leach, D.Kedson, Abrams), South Carolina (2 - P.Leach, DíZuro), Cincinnati (2 - AJOB, R. Walker), Villanova (Golick); UCLA (Corrin); and North Carolina (McGarrigel).

Our Wild Card selections are a little more varied, but not much. Our favorite was Indiana (33), followed by St. Josephís (16), Temple (14), Georgia (13), Providence (7 - Joyce, Potoczak, P. Hastings, Camposano, Ann Mc, Nee, Mash Leach), Tulsa (7 - Leeds, D.Kedson, J.Josephs, L.Kedson, Aldridge, Joe Mc, Joe S/Job Z), Texas (6 - Young, Coach Doc, Shaffer, Gladstein, Wamser, Byrnes), Boston College (4 - Post, Pokrass, Acchione, Pat OíBrien), UMass (4 - Rourke, Schwartz, Anderson, Kennedy), Syracuse (4 - R.C.Natalini, Piccirillo II, Gumbel/Robinson, Homsher II), Rhode Island (2 - Craig M., Howlett), Georgetown (2 - Glowacki, Selig), California (2 - Golick, Kleiman), New Orleans (2 - Fulmer, Reisenfeld), Vanderbilt (Alberts), SW Mo St. (Lou C), Marquette (Chill), Iowa (Homsher I), UNCC (P.Leach), Fresno St. (Manute), and Drexel (Bobbie Shaid).

Standings are attached. Tag Team totals and other scoring breakdowns will appear in the next newsletter.

Standings As of 3/5/97
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NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampion
Peter Homsher I5811IowaKansas
Peter Homsher II5811SyracuseKentucky
Bill Acchione5511Boston CollegeKentucky
Ken Gold5511St. Joseph'sWake Forest
Joe Hastings5511St. Joseph'sWake Forest
David J. Josephs5511St. Joseph'sKentucky
Troy Kane5511IndianaKentucky
Peter O'Brien5511IndianaKentucky
Mark Piccirillo5511IndianaKentucky
Curt Whiteside5511IndianaKentucky
Jodi Hastings5310IndianaKentucky
Bruno Pappasergi5310IndianaKansas
Jon Broder5010TempleKentucky
Brian Corrin5010IndianaUCLA
Marc Kleiman5010CaliforniaKansas
Audrey Kohart5010IndianaKentucky
R. Larson5010IndianaKansas
Marshall Linton5010GeorgiaKansas
McMoose5010IndianaKansas
Robert C. Natalini5010SyracuseKentucky
Marc Reisenfeld5010New OrleansKansas
Susan Shaid5010St. Joseph'sKansas
Bill Shaid5010TempleDuke
Frank Walker5010IndianaKansas
Joe Glowacki489GeorgetownKansas
Heather Howlett489Rhode IslandKansas
Kryjek489IndianaKansas
Alan Schwartz489MassachusettsKansas
Oliver Brooks468St. Joseph'sKansas
Lou C468Southwest MO St.Kansas
Craig M.468Rhode IslandKansas
Sarah Adams459GeorgiaKansas
Paul M. Brady459IndianaKentucky
Johnny Bravo459IndianaWake Forest
Bris459IndianaKentucky
A Capella459GeorgiaWake Forest
Casey459GeorgiaKentucky
Frank Conte459GeorgiaMinnesota
Ken Fulmer459New OrleansKansas
Jim Gibb459St. Joseph'sKansas
GRED459IndianaWake Forest
John Josephs459TulsaWake Forest
Jason Joyce459ProvidenceWake Forest
Len Kedson459TulsaKansas
Bill McGarrigel459TempleNorth Carolina
Adam Mintz459IndianaKansas
Amy/Peter Natalini/Wendell459GeorgiaKansas
Jeff Pokrass459Boston CollegeMinnesota
David F. Post459Boston CollegeKansas
S. Potoczak459ProvidenceKansas
Joe Rogers459IndianaKansas
Glenn Shapiro459TempleKansas
Chris Sheeler459IndianaKansas
Bill Rourke447MassachusettsWake Forest
AJOB438GeorgiaCincinnati
Joe Lunardi438St. Joseph'sKansas
Ron Melnik438IndianaKansas
Jeffrey Nee438ProvidenceKansas
Peter Young438TexasKansas
Mark Piccirillo II417SyracuseKansas
Susan Abrams408St. Joseph'sDuke
Al Alberts408VanderbiltKentucky
Chill408MarquetteKansas
Claude408St. Joseph'sKansas
Coach Doc408TexasKansas
Bob D'Zuro408GeorgiaSouth Carolina
Dodger408IndianaKentucky
John Donadio408St. Joseph'sKansas
ERGEF408IndianaKentucky
Hank Fila408GeorgiaKansas
Barry Gladstein408TexasKansas
Brian Golick408CaliforniaVillanova
GREF408IndianaKansas
Domino Leach408GeorgiaDuke
Edward Leach408TulsaKansas
Brian Leahy408TempleKansas
Joe Mc408TulsaKansas
Jerry Ostru408TempleKansas
Robert A. Peloso408TempleWake Forest
Miguel Perez408TempleKansas
Retiree408IndianaKansas
Norm Rosen408IndianaKansas
Joe S. (& Job Z)408TulsaKansas
Tim Salvatore408TempleKansas
Arnold E Selig408GeorgetownKansas
Polly Shaffer408TexasKansas
Mark Tiger408IndianaWake Forest
Rick Walker408GeorgiaCincinnati
Todd Anderson387MassachusettsKansas
Cowboy387IndianaMinnesota
Susan Hanson387IndianaKansas
Ann Mc387ProvidenceKansas
George Brindisi357GeorgiaKansas
Jeff Clark357TempleKentucky
Brett Connelly357St. Joseph'sMinnesota
Karen Dresden357St. Joseph'sKansas
Michael Einbinder-Schatz357TempleKentucky
FREG357IndianaKentucky
Rick Green357TempleKansas
Gumbel/Robinson357SyracuseKansas
Laura Harlan357IndianaKansas
Peter Hastings357ProvidenceKentucky
David Kedson357TulsaDuke
Andy Kennedy357MassachusettsKansas
Perry Leach357UNC CharlotteSouth Carolina
Ed Leeds357GeorgiaWake Forest
Pat O'Brien357Boston CollegeKentucky
Tom S., Jr.357St. Joseph'sKansas
Barney Spitz (in absentia)357TempleMinnesota
Tom Wamser357TexasKansas
Bill Byrnes336TexasWake Forest
Gene Camposano336ProvidenceKentucky
Kevin Grande336St. Joseph'sKansas
Mash Leach336ProvidenceKentucky
Rick Salus333St. Joseph'sKansas
Bob Shaw336IndianaKansas
Mike Baer306TempleWake Forest
Joshua Einbinder-Schatz306IndianaMinnesota
Jack Henderson306IndianaKansas
Manute306Fresno St.Kansas
Rick Schlegel306St. Joseph'sWake Forest
Bobbi Shaid264DrexelDuke
Liz Aldridge255TulsaKansas