In the past, the Commissioners have been accused of dwelling on the negative aspects of our contestants' choices, while failing to mention the positive qualities of the group's entries. Well, we'd like to dispel these unfounded rumors, and state that this year's entries were, as a group, the most successful in the history of the pool. There, we've said it. It's done. Let's move on.

Two entrants, Peter O'Brien and Piccirillo I (the Dr. Jekyll version), actually predicted 21 out of the 30 conference champions. Another six entrants (R.C. Natalini, Kane, Linton, Kohart, D. Josephs, and S. Shaid) accurately chose 20 out of 30. And while someone who dwelt on negatives might note that 20 out of 30 would net you a solid "D" on a third grade spelling exam, the Commissioners would never say such a thing.

Only five entrants correctly selected fewer than 12 conference champions, led by Bobbie Shaid with only 6, Salus with 10, and Wamser, J. Einbinder-Schatz, and P. Leach, with 11 each. (Not being negative-dwellers, the Commissioners of course decline to speculate about the grade that such scores might earn on an increasingly hypothetical third grade spelling test.)

The leader, after selection of the field, is R.C. Natalini (a father of one of the Commissioners), with 205 points. With this impressive score, R.C. Natalini needs only 175 additional points (e.g., the Champion, five Final 8 teams, and two Final 4 teams) to break Brady's all-time record for most points (379, set last year). (But I wouldn't get my hopes up - R.C. Natalini's Wild Card was uninvited Syracuse.) Close behind the leader are Kane (202), Peter O'Brien (201), Linton (196), Piccirillo I (Dr. Jekyll version - 195), and Kohart (193). Early leader Homsher has slipped a bit, to 17th place, but he's still tied with himself (186 points).

Expert Lunardi is currently tied for 28th place. Had he listened to his own published advice, however, he would have netted 15 additional points and would be in 4th place. Oh, well. His book is still good.

Predictably gravitating to the bottom of the pack is the duplicitous Salus, with 107 points. He must earn another 44 points to avoid breaking Mash Leach's all-time record for futility (150 points). Comfortably ahead of Salus (but considerably behind almost everyone else) are Bobbie Shaid (120 points), Rourke (144), Kennedy (144), and Manute (147).

Oops, we may have been backsliding for a moment. Back to the positive. Almost all of our contestants (114 out of 123) managed to select a Wild Card that was actually selected to participate in the tournament. The only nine who didn't were: leader R.C. Natalini, who chose left out Syracuse as his Wild Card, Piccirillo II (the Mr. Hyde version - Syracuse), Gumbel/Robinson (Syracuse), Homsher II (the Mr. Jekyll version - Syracuse), Fulmer (New Orleans), Reisenfeld (New Orleans), Lou C (SW Mo St.), Manute (Fresno St.), and Bobbie Shaid (Drexel).

An even larger percentage (117 out of 123) had the good sense to choose eight Final 8 teams that were invited to play. Besides Joyce, who only chose seven Final 8 teams, and Salus, who chose his Wild Card also as one of his Final 8 teams, the only entrants who didn't have eight Final 8 teams that were invited to the dance were: Reisenfeld, who chose Texas Tech as one of his Final 8, Kennedy (Michigan), Bill Shaid (Texas Tech) and Bobbie Shaid (both Michigan and Texas Tech). Everybody was able to select a Champion and four Final 4 teams that were still eligible to play after the brackets were announced.

Kansas was a unanimous choice to appear in the Final 8, and Kentucky (120 votes - everyone except Connelly, Dresden, and Bobbie Shaid) and Wake Forest (113) were nearly unanimous. Other popular choices were: Duke (99); Minnesota (86); Cincinnati (76); North Carolina (69); Utah (63); South Carolina (63); UCLA (47); Villanova (23); Clemson (19); Iowa St. (15); Arizona (12); Maryland (9); New Mexico (8); Louisville (5 - Cowboy, Kryjek, M.Leach, F.Walker, Wamser); Indiana (4 - Baer, Casey, Grande, Joe Mc); St. Joseph's (4 - Baer, M.Einbinder-Schatz, Mintz, Potoczak); California (3 - Dresden, Green, Schlegel); Providence (3 - Corrin, D.Leach, Craig M); Colorado (2 - Gold, Schwartz); Xavier (2 - Fulmer, Rourke); Stanford (2 - P.Leach, Manute); Illinois (Anderson); Georgia (Perez); Temple (Pappasergi); Texas (Shapiro); Charleston (Lou C); Tulsa (D.Leach); and Massachusetts (J.Einbinder-Schatz).

Kansas was also an overwhelming favorite to appear in the Final 4, getting 117 votes (all except Clark, M.Einbinder-Schatz, ERGEF, Peloso, Pokrass, Rourke). Next, of course, was Kentucky (106); followed by Wake Forest (80); Minnesota (42); Duke (41); Cincinnati (27); South Carolina (18); North Carolina (18); Utah (15); UCLA (11); Villanova (4 - Acchione, Camposano, Golick, Salus); Arizona (3 - Byrnes, Camposano, Manute); Maryland (3 - Kryjek, Piccirillo I, Wamser); Clemson (2 - Aldridge, Joyce); Iowa St. (Golick); Indiana (Grande); New Mexico (Natalini/Wendell); Colorado (Gold); and Louisville (F.Walker).

We had a little bit more trouble choosing Final 8 and Final 4 teams that weren't in the same region. Six entrants actually have four of their Final 8 concentrated in one region: Connelly (East); Lou C (Southeast); Baer (West); Young (Midwest); Potoczak (West), and Tom S., Jr. (Midwest). Another 16 entrants have three of their Final 8 in each of two regions (thus tying up six of their choices for four potential spots): Mintz; AJOB; Spitz; Shaw; Craig M.; D.Leach; GRED; Howlett; Joyce; J.Josephs; Piccirillo I; Tiger; M.Einbinder-Schatz; Brooks; Peloso; and S.Shaid.

Five entrants have three of their Final 4 playing in the West region: Joe Mc; Tiger; Peter O'Brien; Young; and Peloso. Another 24 entrants have all four of their Final 4 in just two regions: Selig; Kohart; Byrnes; Bill Shaid; Bobbie Shaid; Chill; Claude; Coach Doc; D.Josephs; E.Leach; ERGEF; Shapiro; Gumbel/Robinson; Ostru; Lunardi; J.Josephs; Kryjek; Manute; Piccirillo I; McMoose; Rosen; Schlegel; Adams; and Wamser.

We have long suspected that the pool is an accurate reflection of society at large. So, as the genders are moving closer to equal treatment in the workplace and in Mountain Dew commercials, it was perhaps inevitable that such equality would express itself here. Females still lead males, of course, but only by the slimmest of margins, 171.86 to 171.85. And once again confirming the old adage that children should be seen, but not seen gambling, the kiddies trail both men and women, with a 170.50 average. The average score overall is 171.97.

The battle of the species has also yielded predictable results so far, with Felines leading Humans 175.00 to 172.72. Undoubtedly due to their artificial nature, Mutants trail both cats and people, with 171.25. Of course, even Mutants hold a significant lead over Lawyers, who take their rightful place at the bottom of the food chain, with 164.75.

So you're doing well this year and feeling good about yourself? Before you wrench your arm out of your socket, consider that last year's winner and all-time record holder for the most points, Brady, is currently tied for 81st place, and is three points behind Mash Leach (the all-time record holder for the fewest points). Two-time champion Rosen is tied for 37th. In fact, the four former champions in this year's pool (Brady, Rosen, Harlan, and D.Kedson) have exactly the same average as the four former last place entries (D.Leach, M.Leach, Henderson, and D.Kedson), with both groups averaging 170.00 (just a tad below the overall average).

An inordinately large number of Tag Teams have sprouted up this year. In spite of (or perhaps because of?) an unfortunate lack of Acchione representation, the Nova Gang (Bill Acchione, Kane, Young, Shapiro, Mintz, Gibb, Golick) has charged into the Tag Team lead, with a 183.29 average. If only their alma mater would play with the same enthusiasm. Hot on the Nova Gang's heels are the Natalinis (183.00) (R.C.Natalini, Natalini/Wendell, Conte, Claude), and the Hastings (180.67)(P.Hastings, Jodi Hastings, Joe Hastings), Within striking distance, at 174.13 is the Bridge Players Association (formerly Arnie's Army of Bridge Players - Selig, D.Josephs, AJOB, Brooks, Clark, Connelly, Brady, Ostru). The self-named Friends of Amy (Post, Schwartz, Dresden, Anderson, Natalini/Wendell) has come in at 169.80. However, the "extended" Friends of Amy group, apparently consisting of anyone who has ever heard of Amy, actually has an average (176.50) which betters the bridge boys. The Kedsons (L.Kedson, D.Kedson, A.Capella, Rourke) are hanging around at 170.75, narrowly leading the Mc's (Joe Mc, Ann Mc, McMoose), at 169.67. The inventors of the Tag Team competition, the Leach Clan (E.Leach, P.Leach, M.Leach, D.Leach), with 169.75, narrowly trail the Friends of Amy. Apparently the Leaches don't choose their "friends" as well as Amy, however, because the extended Leach Clan (including Pokrass, Perez, and Bravo) is even further behind, at 166.29. Trailing the field is the Shaid Group (S.Shaid, Bill Shaid, Bobbie Shaid, and Reisenfeld), with a 155.25 average.

If you want to increase your score next year, perhaps you should consider moving north. Currently the best state for pool selection is Connecticut, with a 185.25 average, followed by New York (178.20), New Jersey (176.00), and New Hampshire (175.00). Delaware (175.00), Maryland (173.00) and Pennsylvania (170.53) are mired in the middle, but as you slide south, your score will surely suffer, as Washington DC averages only 169.80, and Tennessee only 144.00.

The Philadelphia suburbanites narrowly lead the Philadelphia urbanites, 170.77 to 167.94, but both trail Western PA (182.00) by a significant margin. South Jersey (179.33) has a slight edge over North Jersey (178.80).

If you want to phone in your selections, do it from the 212 Area Code (186.80), or possibly 203 (185.25), 412 (183.60), 410 (181.50), 201 (180.00), 908 (177.00), 603 (175.00), 302 (175.00), or 609 (173.00). Just above average is 215 (172.12), and things start to go downhill if you call from 202 (169.80), 610 (169.24), 301 (156.00), 423 (144.00), or 518 (144.00)

What's in a name? Well, this year call me Peter (O'Brien, Homsher I, Homsher II, Hastings, Wendell), because my average would be 185.00. The above-average Joes (Rogers, Glowacki, Mc, Lunardi, S, Hastings) are close behind at 180.50. Davids (Post, Josephs, Kedson) and Susans (Hanson, Abrams, Shaid) are tied with 180.33. No easy Marks (Piccirillo I, Piccirillo II, Tiger, Kleiman, Reisenfeld - avg. 177.20), Brians (Corrin, Golick, Leahy - avg. 174.67), or Johns (Broder, Donadio, Josephs, Bravo - avg. 173.25) are in this pool. Last year's bully bad boys, the Bobs (Shaw, Peloso, D'Zuro, Shaid, Natalini, Kryjek) are sputtering at 171.67, while the Jeffs (Nee, Pokrass, Clark - avg. 171.00) are also just below average. Oh no, don't call me Mr. Bill (Shaid, Acchione, McGarrigel, Rourke, Bris, Byrnes - avg. 162.83) or Mr. Mike (Einbinder-Schatz, Baer, Perez - avg, 162.33). And frankly, if my name were Rick (Green, Schlegel, Salus, Walker - avg. 145.75), I'd be changing it, fast.

Our leading occupation? Retired, of course, with an average of 176.33, followed by Sales (176.00), and (somewhat surprisingly) by Engineers (173.94). Students (172.00) know just a little more than Teachers (171.83). Among technical types, Computer people (169.75) get a slight nod over Accountants (165.14). And although it probably goes without saying, we'll say it anyway: practicing Attorneys are dead last, with an average of 162.10.

As always, Coaches (this year represented by Corrin and Pappasergi) know more than players (this year, former NCAA Division I players Leahy and Pokrass).

Among employers (3 or more entries), Robinson-Humphrey (186.00) currently leads Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey (179.25) for the top spot. Scrambling in the middle are Hearst Elementary School (173.33), PaDOT (172.43), Joe Hand Promotions (172.00), and Vibroplating (171.33). Urban Engineering (170.45), Conrail (168.33), and Delaware Management Company (164.29) obviously have to revise their hiring practices. And you think it's "good enough for government work"? Pools submitted by persons employed by state or federal governments average 150.00.

The next newsletter will have updated totals, as well as the widely anticipated mascot trivia and All-Name Teams.

Standings As of 3/10/97
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NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampion
Robert C. Natalini20520SyracuseKentucky
Troy Kane20220IndianaKentucky
Peter O'Brien20121IndianaKentucky
Marshall Linton19620GeorgiaKansas
Mark Piccirillo19521IndianaKentucky
Audrey Kohart19320IndianaKentucky
Jim Gibb19218St. Joseph'sKansas
Curt Whiteside19218IndianaKentucky
David J. Josephs19020St. Joseph'sKentucky
John Donadio18918St. Joseph'sKansas
Ken Gold18918St. Joseph'sWake Forest
Joe Hastings18819St. Joseph'sWake Forest
Len Kedson18816TulsaKansas
Joe Rogers18816IndianaKansas
Sarah Adams18717GeorgiaKansas
Susan Shaid18720St. Joseph'sKansas
Peter Homsher I18618IowaKansas
Peter Homsher II18618SyracuseKentucky
Ron Melnik18618IndianaKansas
A Capella18417GeorgiaWake Forest
Claude18417St. Joseph'sKansas
Brian Corrin18417IndianaUCLA
David F. Post18417Boston CollegeKansas
Polly Shaffer18417TexasKansas
Bill Acchione18318Boston CollegeKentucky
Jodi Hastings18318IndianaKentucky
Jeff Clark18216TempleKentucky
Joe Lunardi18216St. Joseph'sKansas
Ken Fulmer18117New OrleansKansas
Amy/Peter Natalini/Wendell18117GeorgiaKansas
Joe S. (& Job Z)18117TulsaKansas
Oliver Brooks18018St. Joseph'sKansas
Coach Doc18015TexasKansas
Frank Walker18018IndianaKansas
Bob D'Zuro17916GeorgiaSouth Carolina
Susan Hanson17916IndianaKansas
Jason Joyce17916ProvidenceWake Forest
Domino Leach17916GeorgiaDuke
Norm Rosen17916IndianaKansas
Marc Kleiman17817CaliforniaKansas
Chris Sheeler17817IndianaKansas
Al Alberts17715VanderbiltKentucky
John Josephs17715TulsaWake Forest
Craig M.17715Rhode IslandKansas
Adam Mintz17718IndianaKansas
Arnold E Selig17715GeorgetownKansas
Glenn Shapiro17715TempleKansas
Susan Abrams17517St. Joseph'sDuke
Jon Broder17517TempleKentucky
Joe Glowacki17514GeorgetownKansas
Mark Piccirillo II17514SyracuseKansas
S. Potoczak17514ProvidenceKansas
Bob Shaw17514IndianaKansas
Mark Tiger17514IndianaWake Forest
Bill McGarrigel17415TempleNorth Carolina
Bruno Pappasergi17418IndianaKansas
Peter Young17415TexasKansas
Jeff Pokrass17214Boston CollegeMinnesota
Brian Golick17115CaliforniaVillanova
GRED17115IndianaWake Forest
Peter Hastings17115ProvidenceKentucky
Heather Howlett17115Rhode IslandKansas
Mash Leach17112ProvidenceKentucky
Robert A. Peloso17115TempleWake Forest
Lou C17016Southwest MO St.Kansas
Edward Leach16914TulsaKansas
Brian Leahy16914TempleKansas
Joe Mc16914TulsaKansas
Mike Baer16815TempleWake Forest
Paul M. Brady16812IndianaKentucky
Todd Anderson16716MassachusettsKansas
George Brindisi16713GeorgiaKansas
David Kedson16713TulsaDuke
Tim Salvatore16713TempleKansas
Kevin Grande16614St. Joseph'sKansas
Laura Harlan16614IndianaKansas
Ann Mc16614ProvidenceKansas
Hank Fila16515GeorgiaKansas
Brett Connelly16413St. Joseph'sMinnesota
R. Larson16416IndianaKansas
Rick Schlegel16413St. Joseph'sWake Forest
Gene Camposano16314ProvidenceKentucky
Jack Henderson16314IndianaKansas
Marc Reisenfeld16314New OrleansKansas
Bill Byrnes16212TexasWake Forest
Frank Conte16212GeorgiaMinnesota
Barry Gladstein16212TexasKansas
Pat O'Brien16215Boston CollegeKentucky
Alan Schwartz16215MassachusettsKansas
Miguel Perez16113TempleKansas
Perry Leach16011UNC CharlotteSouth Carolina
Rick Green15912TempleKansas
Ed Leeds15912GeorgiaWake Forest
Jeffrey Nee15912ProvidenceKansas
Michael Einbinder-Schatz15813TempleKentucky
Jerry Ostru15813TempleKansas
Liz Aldridge15612TulsaKansas
Karen Dresden15513St. Joseph'sKansas
Tom S., Jr.15513St. Joseph'sKansas
Joshua Einbinder-Schatz15411IndianaMinnesota
Barney Spitz (in absentia)15312TempleMinnesota
Rick Walker15312GeorgiaCincinnati
Johnny Bravo15213IndianaWake Forest
Bill Shaid15114TempleDuke
Tom Wamser15111TexasKansas
Manute14712Fresno St.Kansas
Andy Kennedy14412MassachusettsKansas
Bill Rourke14412MassachusettsWake Forest
Bobbie Shaid1206DrexelDuke
Rick Salus10710St. Joseph'sKansas