Here we go again. For nine years now, people have been lining up to test their wit and basketball wisdom, and of course to read their names in the newsletter. This year, 126 entrants have thrown their proverbial hats into the ring (although only 124 included actual money with their proverbial hat). Minus the $30 administrative costs, this means that first prize will be $726, second prize will be $363, and third prize will be $121.

Well, maybe they aren't lining up to read their names in the newsletter. Several entrants have attempted to hide behind wimpy pseudonyms, like "Arrow Man," "Cowboy," "January Man," "Pat Riot," and the ultimate in timidity, "Prefers Anonymity." What are you hiding from? Does Mr. Anonymity really think he can avoid ignominy? Let's face it, the commissioners know who you are, and your friends and acquaintances know who you are. Everyone else? Even if you used your name, they wouldn't know you if they tripped over you in the local adult bookstore. To add irony to insult, Mr. Anonymity, who last year finished in 120th place in the pool (perhaps motivating his desire to remain unidentified), is this year tied for 5th, only three points behind the leader.

Well, maybe they aren't lining up to read at all. P. Hastings, for example, was apparently unable to read the rules, as he picked #8 Princeton as his Wild Card. Fourteen other entrants were unable to read their own handwriting, as they picked the same team twice. Keeping in mind last year's performance, when he chose a pool-record twelve (12) teams twice, it is no surprise that the sententious Salus chose Illinois State as both conference champion and at-large. Joining him in choosing the same team as both conference champ and at-large were Manute (Ill. St.), Brinkley (Charleston), Connelly (Illinois), Dresden (Purdue), M Papalia (S. Carolina), Baby Sullivan (TCU), and Carson (Morgan St.). Carson's deed was especially interesting, as she chose a team twice that failed to make the Tournament even once. More impressive, Corrin (Indiana), Quasi (Mich. St.), Schwartz (Colo. St.), and Wamser (Iowa) chose the same team twice at-large. Of those, Schwartz and Wamser were clever enough to waste two choices on one uninvited team. Gill chose two teams twice - Charleston as conference champion and at-large, and Miami twice at-large. But this year's top double-vision award goes to Raps, who chose Montana St. and MTSU twice, when neither of them are even playing in the NIT.

And, as always, the commissioners are puzzled about the creative spelling and abbreviation employed by our participants. Spelling Nicholls St. ("Nichols St.," "Nickles St.," and our personal favorite "Nicholas St.") was perhaps understandably difficult for our group, but how about "Sienna," "Tennesse," "Tennesee," "Arkasis," "Illonois" (and to prove those weren't typos, "Arkasas St." and "Illonois St."), "Illonis," "Cincinatti," "Cinncinnati," "Princton," "Murry St." (is this somebody's uncle?) "Pacifac," "Fairlegh Dickinson," "Wake Forrest," "Valperiso," "Stamford," "Standford," "Missippi," "Choppin" (the composer? It's still spelled incorrectly), "Perdue" (the chicken salesman?), "Purrdo," and "Texas Southland." And although we realize that children may read this (if they can read at all), we are forced to wonder what people are thinking when they use abbreviations like "Fair Dick," and "W. Virgin." We were tempted to ask one of the several teachers that entered the pool for an explanation of the above spelling problems, but were forced to abstain because 75% of the teachers were among those who made spelling errors.

However, we would not want to be accused of associating education with NCAA athletics. And why should we? Currently leading the pool is S. Adams, a nine year old, with 198 points. Tied with Adams are Coach Doc, and FREG, a mutant. Only one point behind the leaders, ahead of 122 other entrants, is Baby Sullivan, an unborn child. Perhaps more impressive, 7 year old Sam Karpp, who actually filled out his own pool, is ahead of 56 supposedly adult participants. (For any government agents out there, Sam is one of the two entrants that didn't pay and thus isn't eligible to win any prizes (and thus isn't gambling, and thus won't land the commissioners in jail).)

Prefers Anonymity is among five contestants tied at 195 (along with DREG (another mutant), Harlan, Joyce, and Peter O'Brien), and another 20 entrants are within 10 points of that group.

As always, our participants have displayed a great deal of "strategy," some new and some not so new. For the first time in nine years, Wamser has altered his strategy. Instead of picking a team in his Final 4 that was not in his Final 8, as he'd done in the previous eight pools, this year Wamser chose a Champion (South Carolina) that was not in his Final 4. On a more familiar plane, other entrants chose ambiguity as a ploy. For example, Raps chose "ISU" as champion of the MVC, a conference containing both Illinois St. and Indiana St. Even more devious was Carson, who chose "Loyola" at-large, notwithstanding that there are three Division I teams called Loyola (Loyola, Md.; Loyola, Chi.; and Loyola Marymount). Had any of the three made the field we may have been tempted to give her credit but, alas, none did.

This year's fad strategy appears to be choosing teams in the final categories but not in the field of 64. Four entrants chose Wild Cards that they did not bother to include either as conference champ or at-large: Conte (Illinois); Wegbreit/Arglic (Clemson); Bobbie Shaid (Temple); and Bill Shaid (Xavier). Another Five contestants thought that certain teams would make the Final 8 without being included in the field: J. Joseph (Michigan); M. Papalia (Kentucky); Pappasergi (Utah); Porter (Michigan); and Raps (Duke and UConn - Raps also chose UConn into his Final 4).

But the strategy of the year belongs to Raps, who decided not to include ANY Top 25 team among his at-large selections. Eschewing humdrum picks like Duke; UConn; Purdue; Utah; UCLA; New Mexico; Arkansas; South Carolina; Stanford; West Virginia; Michigan; Mississippi; Massachusetts; Maryland; and Rhode Island, Raps instead went with choices like Southern Miss, MTSU (twice), Creighton, Dayton, Arizona St., Texas-San Antonio, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Butler (he even got points for that one), Coppin St., Southern, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Pacific, Kansas St., Montana St. (twice), and Boise St.

Defending champion Mash Leach is back, in style. He chose Vermont, Portland St., Nevada, Siena, Akron, Western Illinois, Evansville, Jackson St., and Pepperdine as conference champions. Charleston is his wild card. He is solidly entrenched in third-to-last place.

But the perhaps the pool of the century was turned in by Carson. Without getting into details, she's 75 points behind Raps (who is in 2nd to last place). Well, alright, we'll get into details. After all, this is perhaps the pool of the century. For starters, Carson inaccurately predicted 26 out of 30 conference champions, including Penn in the Ivy League and UCLA in the Pac 10, along with Vermont, Cal-Irvine, Canisius, Morgan St., MTSU, VMI, Texas Arlington, Grambling, Southwestern Louisiana, and San Diego St. As for her at-large selections, the commissioners believe that Carson either suffers from a rare form of dyslexia, or she was holding her pool upside-down when she was filling it in. Fifteen of her at-large selections had records under .500: Colorado (13-14); DePaul (7-23); Howard (8-20); George Mason (9-19); Duquesne (11-19); Northwestern (10-17); Morgan St. (12-16); Jacksonville St. (12-15); Pitt (11-16); Wisconsin (11-19); Texas Southern (15-16); Columbia (11-17); Long Beach St. (10-18); Tulane (7-22), and "Loyola" (all three of which were under .500). In comparison, some of her better choices included: Weber St.; SMU; Montana; Miami (OH); Vanderbilt; Portland St., and St. Francis (Pa). She chose West Virginia into the Final 4, Wake Forest and Vermont into the Final 8 (Vermont?!?), and Long Beach St. as her Wild Card. Wow.

Carson, of course, chose more Big Sky teams (4) than Big East teams (2) and Pac 10 teams (1) combined. She also chose 3 Colonial teams. Several others also exhibited imbalanced behavior. Fittingly, the most imbalanced was a Psychologist, I Kedson, who chose three Big Sky teams, three Big West teams, three MAC teams, three OVC teams, but only two Big 12 teams and two SEC teams. Raps chose four MCC teams and three Big West teams, but only two Pac 10 teams. Quasi chose three Big Sky teams, but only one Big 12 team. J Piccirillo chose more Big West teams (3) than either Big 12 (2) or Conference USA (2) teams. Spitz chose more from the Big West (3) than from the WAC (2). On a very impressive note, Russell chose three MCC teams, and they all made the field! He was the only participant to predict Butler as MCC champion.

Five entrants selected 7 ACC teams (Harlan, D Papalia, M Papalia. Schlegel, and Warmbier). N Sullivan chose 8 ACC teams (out of 9). Nannen chose 7 Big 10 teams. Manute chose 7 WAC teams.

Although hardly Carsonogenic, special mention should be made of Mike Mc and January Man, both of whom chose as conference champion a team (New Mexico St.) that wasn't even invited to its own conference tournament, much less the Big Dance.

National columnist Lunardi, whose Blue Ribbon predictions are on ESPN Sportszone, apparently predicted 62 of the 64 teams to make the tournament, in a published column. He should have listened to himself. Lunardi is currently tied for 35th place, having correctly predicted only 50 out of 64, in our pool.

What do Salus, Bobbie Shaid, and former last place finishers D Kedson, Henderson, and N Sullivan have in common? They all picked Duke to win the national championship. Coach K has been warned. Carson, Raps, and Mash Leach all picked North Carolina to win. The commissioners, who are Duke fans, fervently hope that these three entrants' predictive accuracy remains consistent.

What does it take to win the pool? Try schizophrenia. In our previous eight years, four entrants have finished in both the top two and in the bottom two: Mash Leach (1st, last, 2nd to last, 3rd to last); D Leach (2nd, last); D Kedson (1st, last); and N Sullivan (1st, 2nd to last).

So, how did we do this year? Well, our average score is 174.33, two and a half points better than last year. But don't start gloating yet. Only 15 out of 30 conference champions were selected by a majority of us, and only 13 out of 28, if you exclude Princeton and Arizona, who had all but clinched their bids by the time the pool was due (although, of course, Carson chose neither Princeton nor Arizona, and M Papalia chose UCLA as Pac-10 champ). Three entrants correctly predicted as many as 19 out of 30 (Baby Sullivan, Abrams, and J Hastings), which is somewhat impressive (but don't tell that to seven year old Sam Karpp - 19 out of 30 would net him a "D" in a 2nd grade reading test). On the other side, three entrants accurately chose fewer than 10: Carson (4); Mash Leach (9); and R Karpp (9, but don't tell that to Sam Karpp either - R Karpp is his father). For the record, Sam Karpp got 14 out of 30.

Three teams managed to win their conference tournaments without any of us guessing that they would: UNLV; San Francisco; and Prairie View. Russell was the only contestant to predict Butler in the MCC, and only Alberts and M Josephs figured on Eastern Michigan in the MAC.

Looking forward, all but three entrants chose Duke (52), North Carolina (32), Kansas (23), or Arizona (16) as National Champion. The only entrants displaying any originality in this regard were M Josephs (Kentucky), Wamser (South Carolina), and Glowacki (Utah).

The favorite Wild Cards were Temple (33), St. Johns (26), Illinois (18), and Xavier (14). Six contestants chose Wild Cards that, alas, were not invited to play: I Kedson (Ball St.); Leahy (Iowa); Carson (Long Beach); N Sullivan (Seton Hall); January Man (Marquette); and Glowacki (Auburn). (With Utah as his champion, and Auburn as his Wild Card, now we know where the "wacki" in Glowacki comes from.) Other original Wild Card choices: Tennessee (7 - Alberts, Hanson, Dresden, Anonymity, R Karpp, Porter, ME Donadio); Oklahoma St. (6 - P Leach, Schlegel, Shaw, Lundberg, Warmbier, Leeds); Indiana (4 - Grande, Packer, Maran, Harlan); Clemson (3 - Wegbreit/Arglic, Quasi II, A Capella); Murray St. (2 - Brooks, Brinkley); Charleston (M Leach); Illinois-Chicago (Lou C); Miami-FL (J Piccirillo); No. Arizona (Quasi); St. Louis (Schwartz); and UNCC (Brindisi).

And speaking of originality, or lack thereof, five teams were chosen by more than 100 of us to make the Final 8: Duke (125 - all but Brooks); North Carolina (125 - all but D Padilla); Kansas (122 - all but Fila, Gill, S Karpp, M Leach); Arizona (119 - all but Carson, Conte, M Leach, E Leach, Salus, S Shaid, and Tiger); and Kentucky (101). Only two entrants chose teams in the Final 8 that were not invited to play: Sam Karpp (Wake Forest) and Carson (Wake and Vermont). Other Final 8 choices were: UConn (75); Stanford (45); Utah (44); Arkansas (39); Michigan St. (31); Princeton (25); Purdue (22); TCU (18); South Carolina (16); UCLA (15); New Mexico (14); Cincinnati (13); Michigan (13); Maryland (11); Mississippi (9); UMass (6 - Anonymity, Carson, Disbrow, M Leach, Leahy, Joe Mc); Temple (5 - Carson, J Einbinder-Schatz, Mike Mc, Peloso, Russell); West Virginia (4 - Carson, Connelly, McMoose, Pogach); Syracuse (2 - Dresden, Russell); GW (2 - Bobbie Shaid, S Shaid); Indiana (J Einbinder-Schatz); St. Louis (S Karpp); UNCC (R Karpp); and Rhode Island (M Einbinder-Schatz).

Similarly, our Final 4 picks were overwhelmingly boring: Duke (113); North Carolina (111); Arizona (93); Kansas (88); Kentucky (21); Utah (15); UConn (15); Arkansas (11); Stanford (6 - Brindisi, Henderson, Joyce, January Man, Mastro, Salus); Michigan St. (4 - S Adams, Glowacki, R Karpp, Wegbreit/Arglic); New Mexico (4 - Connelly, Gill, Pat O'Brien, Peloso); Princeton (3 - N Sullivan, Wamser, Warmbier); Purdue (3 - D'Zuro, D Papalia, Quasi); South Carolina (3 - AJOB, Connelly, Wanger); TCU (3 - Gold, D Kedson, D Padilla); Maryland (2 - Clark, M Einbinder-Schatz); UCLA (2 - Brooks, E Leach); Cincinnati (2 - P Leach, C Walker); West Virginia (Carson); Michigan (Post); St. Louis (S Karpp); Mississippi (Corrin); and Wake Forest (S Karpp), the only Final 4 selection that wasn't invited to play.

On to more important matters, like gender superiority. Despite having to carry Carson, females still hold a slim margin over males, 174.63 to 174.30. That's no surprise. But contrary to popular opinion regarding the deterioration of our youth, children, led by leader S Adams and fetus Baby Sullivan, are substantially better than adults (183.17 to 173.89).

In the battle of the species, felines (avg. 179.67) naturally lead humans (173.57) and canines (167.50). Lawyers (176.25) trail felines but, in a potentially major upset, lead humans (173.57). Those four-letter mutants (e.g., GREF, DREG, etc.) lead them all, with an average score of 187.75.

Last year, the best name in the pool was Susan. This year, it's still Susan (Abrams, Hanson, Shaid - avg. 183). Last year, if your name was Rick, you were probably considering the merits of going by "Anonymity," but this year the Ricks (Schlegel, Salus, Warmbier, Flannery - avg. 180) are tied with the average Joe (Hastings, Mc, Glowacki, Lunardi - avg. 180), and ahead of everyone but the Susans. Those big, bad, bully Bobs (Shaid, Shaw, Natalini, Wegbreit, Peloso, D'Zuro - avg. 177.33) are next, followed by Mikes (Aub, Baer, Coach Doc, Einbinder-Schatz, Maran, Mc, Papalia - avg. 174.57); Marks (Tiger, Piccirillo, Mastro, Kleiman - avg. 173.0); Davids (Josephs, Harris, Papalia, Post, Kedson, Lundberg - avg. 172.83); and Johns (Joseph, Raps, Donadio Sr., Donadio Jr., Maibach, Maibach II, Broder - avg. 172.57). Oh noooo, Mr. Bill, you're in last place (Shaid, Byrnes, Acchione, McGarrigel - avg. 167.75).

In the Tag Team competition, the Nova Gang has dropped out, but they have been replaced by a new force, the "Friends of JJ." This group (J Joseph, M Joseph, Porter, D Papalia, M Papalia, J Donadio Jr, J Donadio Sr, ME Donadio, Warmbier) currently leads the competition, with an average score of 175.33. Just behind the JJ group is the "Bridge Players Association" (Selig, Brooks, Ostru, AJOB, Clark, Brady, D Josephs, Connelly - avg. 173.25), followed by the "Friends of Amy" (A Natalini, Dresden, Schwartz, Post, Maran - avg. 171.0). The "Extended" Friends of Amy (adding Coach Doc, Shaffer, S Adams, RC Natalini, D Kedson, Claude, Conte) bring Amy's group average up to 182.08, which would be in first place. The commissioners are currently investigating a possible recruiting violation on Amy's part. The only group that the Leach Gang (E Leach, P Leach, M Leach, D Leach - avg. 160.75) is ahead of is the "Extended" Leach Gang (adding Raps, Pogach - total avg. 157.67). This of course, disproves the theory that Mash Leach's defending champion status would allow him to afford a better quality friend.

Among families, Donadio (183.67), leads over Natalini (183.5), Hastings (178.67), Kedson (177.0), Joseph (173.0), Shaid (165.67), and Mc (165.0).

In the geographical challenge, Delaware (179.0) has a narrow lead over Maryland (178.75) and New Jersey (177.43), followed by Connecticut (175.5), New York (174.8), and Pennsylvania (173.29). Even Sam Karpp knows that the District of Columbia is not really a state, and it shows, as DC brings up the rear (169.75). By region, North Jersey (178.67) leads the New York City area (including northern and eastern suburbs - 177.0) and perhaps more importantly for state pride, leads South Jersey (176.71) as well. New England (except Connecticut) is next (175.5). Philadelphia suburbanites are ahead of the Philadelphia urbanites, 175.06 to 171.0), with the DC Beltway area (174.25) inbetween. Bringing up the rear is Western PA (168.43).

Students (181.0) are dominating Teachers (169.50), although Coaches (176.0) lead former NCAA players (171.0). The top occupation, however, is Computer Professional (185.6), followed by Student and Retired (180.5). Practicing Attorneys (173.71) are very close to Salespeople (172.20), but there's no surprise about that, is there? Engineers (171.86) and Accountants (170.0) are below average, but better than Teachers.

The leading employer is, predictably, "Self" (183.0). Among companies, Vibroplating (178.33) leads the Delaware Group (175.92), PaDOT (173.25), and Urban Engineering (171.25). Conrail (168.0) is holding on, for the moment.

We intend to post interim mini-updates between Newsletters, one per round of the tournament, on the web page (http://members.aol.com/DKNoFish/PreNCAA.htm). Current Standings, as of the beginning of the Tournament, are below.

Current Standings - March 8, 1998
After Selection of Field
Back to Top

NameScoreConf ChampsWild CardChampionFinal 8Final 4
Sarah Adams19818TempleDuke
Coach Doc19818TempleDuke
Baby Sullivan19719IllinoisDuke
Prefers Anonymity19518TennesseeNorth Carolina
DREG19518St. John'sKansas
Laura Harlan19518IndianaDuke
Jason Joyce19518TempleKansas
Peter O'Brien19518XavierDuke
Susan Abrams19419TempleArizona
Paul M. Brady19218St. John'sKansas
Robert C. Natalini19218IllinoisNorth Carolina
A Capella19017ClemsonArizona
John Maibach19017St. John'sDuke
Norm Rosen19017IllinoisDuke
Joe Hastings18819St. John'sKansas
Al Alberts18717TennesseeDuke
Mary Ellen Donadio18717TennesseeArizona
Susan Hanson18717TennesseeDuke
David Kedson18717TempleDuke
Kate Sullivan18717XavierNorth Carolina
Edward Leach18618TempleDuke
Dick Flannery18516TempleDuke
Quasi II18516ClemsonKansas
Rick Schlegel18516Oklahoma St.Duke
Polly Shaffer18516IllinoisDuke
Neil Sullivan18516Seton HallDuke
Jon Broder18417TempleNorth Carolina
John Donadio, Sr.18417IllinoisNorth Carolina
Sandy Disbrow18315St. John'sNorth Carolina
Kevin Kasprzak18315St. John'sDuke
Len Kedson18315TempleDuke
Jodi Piccirillo18318Miami-FLNorth Carolina
Marshall Linton18216TempleDuke
Joe Lunardi18216St. John'sDuke
Robert A. Peloso18216XavierKansas
Don Russell18216St. John'sArizona
Jeff Clark18117TempleDuke
Karen Dresden18117TennesseeDuke
Miles Joseph18117TempleDuke
John Donadio, Jr.18015TempleDuke
Michael Einbinder-Schatz18015TempleArizona
Kevin Grande18015IndianaArizona
GREF18015TempleNorth Carolina
Marc Kleiman18015IllinoisKansas
Barbara Spitz18015St. John'sArizona
Bob Wegbreit (ARGLIC)18015ClemsonNorth Carolina
Joe Glowacki17916AuburnUtah
David Lundberg17916Oklahoma St.North Carolina
Arrow Man17916XavierNorth Carolina
Patrick O'Brien17916XavierDuke
Rick Salus17916TempleDuke
George Brindisi17814UNC CharlotteKansas
GRED17814St. John'sArizona
Matt Josephs17817St. John'sKentucky
Bill Byrnes17715IllinoisNorth Carolina
Frank Conte17715IllinoisKansas
Troy Kane17715TempleNorth Carolina
Bob Shaw17715Oklahoma St.North Carolina
Butch Acchione17616XavierDuke
AJOB17616IllinoisNorth Carolina
Brian Corrin17616St. John'sDuke
Mike Maran17616IndianaNorth Carolina
Bruno Pappasergi17616TempleNorth Carolina
Arnold E Selig17616TempleDuke
Mark Tiger17616IllinoisNorth Carolina
David Harris17415IllinoisDuke
John Joseph17214St. John'sArizona
Sam Karpp17214IllinoisDuke
Amy Natalini17214St. John'sDuke
Pat Riot17214IllinoisDuke
Clinton Walker17214TempleArizona
Lou C17115Ill.-ChicagoNorth Carolina
Joshua Einbinder-Schatz17115St. John'sDuke
Hank Fila17115St. John'sNorth Carolina
Brian Leahy17115IowaKansas
Joe Mc17115TempleKansas
Rick Warmbier17115Oklahoma St.Duke
Mike Baer17013TempleKansas
Jeffrey Gill17013St. John'sDuke
Bob D'Zuro16914TempleNorth Carolina
David J. Josephs16914TempleKansas
Bill McGarrigel16914IllinoisKansas
Jerry Ostru16914TempleNorth Carolina
Dave Papalia16914TempleDuke
Ken Gold16815TempleArizona
Russell J. Karpp1689TennesseeDuke
Mark Mastro16815IllinoisNorth Carolina
Mike Mc16815St. John'sKansas
Mike Papalia16812St. John'sKansas
Mark Piccirillo16815XavierNorth Carolina
Susan Shaid16812IllinoisDuke
Ira Kedson16716Ball St.Duke
Alan Schwartz16713St. LouisArizona
Randy Wanger16713IllinoisDuke
Cowboy16614St. John'sDuke
Ed Leeds16614Oklahoma St.Arizona
Manny Pogach16614TempleKansas
Betsy Porter16614TennesseeKansas
Stephen Smith16614St. John'sArizona
Peter Hastings16515Duke
Bill Shaid16515XavierDuke
Lisa Brinkley16413Murray St.North Carolina
Jack Henderson16413XavierDuke
Matt Nannen16413St. John'sNorth Carolina
Bobbie Shaid16413TempleDuke
Michael Aub (Manute)16212TempleKansas
Brett Connelly16212XavierArizona
Oliver Brooks16113Murray St.Kansas
John Maibach II16113XavierKansas
Don Padilla16113St. John'sDuke
Bill Acchione16011St. John'sDuke
David F. Post15912St. John'sDuke
Domino Leach15612St. John'sKansas
January Man15612MarquetteNorth Carolina
McMoose15612TempleNorth Carolina
Travis Bryan15513XavierNorth Carolina
Perry Leach15411Oklahoma St.Duke
Tom Wamser15111TempleSouth Carolina
Quasi15012N. ArizonaDuke
Mash Leach1479CharlestonNorth Carolina
Jon Raps13716XavierNorth Carolina
Eileen Carson624Long Beach St.North Carolina