1999 PRE-NCAA CONTEST NEWSLETTER 1
Well, itís the Pre-NCAA Contestís Tin Anniversary this year. The pool is ten years old this year. (And, in case you didnít know, the 10th anniversary has traditionally been known as the Tin Anniversary Ė yes, now weíre into wedding anniversary trivia, as if mascot trivia wasnít bad enough.) And for the tenth straight year, weíve had more entrants than the year before. This year, 141 brave souls ventured into our prognosticatorís minefield. Even more surprising, 140 of them paid for the privilege. The only entrant who chose the non-paying option was eight year old Sam Karpp, whose parents allowed him to pick his own pool, but not to send in their money. Minus the $50 administrative costs, this yearís first prize will be $810; second prize will be $405; and third prize will be $135.
And while we doubt that ten years experience has given the Commissioners any more wisdom, we will nevertheless take this opportunity to look back over a decade of questionable forecasting. As the old adage goes, "those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat the fifth grade." Or something like that.
And speaking of repeating the fifth grade, the Commissioners are, once again, amazed and appalled by our groupís creative spelling endeavors, especially in light of the fact that every teamís name is typed (and properly spelled) right on the entry form. This yearís spelling lesson is brought to us by the letter "N." Teams featuring that tricky little letter just gave us problems, leading to attempts like: "Tenessee"; "Minnesotta"; "Minnesoda"; "Sienna"; "Sierra" (our personal favorite); "Standford"; "Stamford"; "Sanford" (obviously the fact that both Stanford and Samford were favored to win their conferences was a point of confusion to several entrants); "Indianna"; "Indiania"; "Nebaska"; "Nichols St"; "Nicholis St"; and "Nichollas St"; to name a few. But, the team that gave us the most trouble was Cincinnati, although to our credit we pretty much covered all the angles: "Cincinati"; "Cincinatti"; "Cinncinati"; "Cinncinatti"; "Cinncinnati"; and "Cinncinnatti." But "N" was not our only problem, as we used some classics like: "Louieville"; "Arkansaw"; "Bosey St"; "Niagra"; "Detroet"; "Murry St"; "Murrey St"; "Audburn"; "Alburn"; "Valparaisio"; "Miama FL"; "Miamie-OH"; "North Carolina-Charlette"; "Bethane-Cookman" (and why in the world was anyone picking Bethune-Cookman, anyway?); "Wisonson," "Layfette"; and of course, "Perdue." Fitting in with our history theme, we seemed to stumble over the name George Washington (whom most fifth graders would recognize as the first President of the United States), trying entries like "Goerge Washington," "Gerge Washington," and "Georgh Wash." The abbreviation of the year goes to the person who chose "Kansa." And while most entrants who commit egregious spelling errors prefer to go nameless, Mike Mc turned himself in, claiming that he misspelled his Wildcard, Temple, as "X-A-V-I-E-R." We notified the Spelling Police, but gave him no credit.
But, back to history. The literary character Vizzini lists some of historyís great lessons, starting with "never fight a land war in Asia." Although he didnít mention it, we believe that only slightly lower on the list is, "never pick Portland State twice." Unfortunately, one of our entrants, who now prefers to be known as Incineration Man, never learned that particular lesson. He also picked St. Johnís twice at-large. With those choices, Incineration Man leads a group of 22 entrants who chose at least one team more than once, shattering the old record of 19, which occurred in 1997.
Sheehy (UNLV; Tenn.; and Mich. St.) and Lester (Miami, OH; Tulsa; New Mexico) actually led the pack, each choosing three teams twice each. Carruth (Wis.; Mo.), Kashuba (UCLA; Mich. St.), Bobbie Shaid (Butler; Weber St.), and Kane (Miami, OH; Kentucky) each chose two teams twice. Our favorite team to choose twice was Miami, OH, which doubly delighted six entrants, including defending pool champion M Josephs (also Lester; Kane; Cowboy; Gorman; and Huffnagle). Four entrants chose teams twice that didnít even make the field once: Incineration Man (Portland St); Bobbie Shaid (Butler); Sheehy (UNLV) and Byrnes (Nebraska). And it wouldnít be a newsletter if we didnít list each and every duplicator, so hereís the rest: Padilla (Murray St.); Botwin (Texas); Brooks (Valp.); Hanson (Arkansas); Pennybaker (Weber St.); Leahy (Mo.); Mahalko (Kansas); Moyer (Kansas); Pat OíBrien (Murray St.); and Quinn (Utah).
The Commissioners are amazed to announce that the sassy Salus, who actually selected twelve duplicate teams in 1997, this year submitted a pool without breaking any of the rules. Even more astonishing is his position in the standings. Salusís salubrious selections have sent him into a tie for third place, after selection of the tournament field, with 205 points. Alberts also has 205, narrowly trailing D Papalia (206) and Claude (210). Claudeís 210 points represents an all-time record for most points after selection of the field, breaking the old mark of 205 which was held by RC Natalini (in 1997). Claude and Peter OíBrien both accurately selected 21 conference champions, tying the record which was also set in 1997, by Peter OíBrien and M Piccirillo. Also in the hunt are Peter OíBrien (204); Kestner (203); Quinn (202); and three tied with 200 (J Donadio, Sr.; J Joseph; and Shaffer).
At the other end of the spectrum is Incineration Man, whose 139 points perhaps inspired his desire to be known by his new pseudonym. (And, speaking of pseudonyms, if anyone is wondering what happened to the ultimate wimpy moniker, last yearís Prefers Anonymity is so anonymous this year that he declined to enter.)
Just ahead of Incineration Man is, of course, Mash Leach with 143 points. The monster Mash correctly predicted only 7 conference champions, by far the sorriest showing of the year (although this doesnít come anywhere near the all-time record for fewest conference champions, which is (believe it or not) 2, set by Gray in 1992). For those few who are not familiar with Mash, he finished in the bottom ten in four of his first five tries at the pool (including last, second-to-last, and fifth-to-last), then came out of nowhere to win the 1997 pool. He followed that performance with a 70th place finish last year, and now is back in the more comfortable (for the rest of us) position of seond-to-last place. His rags-to-riches-to-rags story has undoubtedly inspired hundreds of compulsive gamblers all over the country.
Mashís "strategy" has been to choose unlikely conference champions, picked by few others, in the hope of gaining a five point advantage for each successful choice. This year, for example, he was one of only 11 people to successfully select Kent as the MAC champion (along with AJOB; Brooks; Dodger; P Kedson; D Padilla; Peloso; Raps; D Seidel; Stover; and Yantosh). Very impressive, until you see that Mash was also one of fewer than 20 people to choose, as conference champions, Bradley (13); Bucknell (8); Iona (6); Lamar (6); Miami-FL (13); Morgan St. (4); UNCA (4); Richmond (16); Santa Clara (2); Texas Southern (1); Cal-Santa-Barbara (5); Western Illinois (3); Wis.-Green Bay (2); Xavier (17); and UAB (9).
Enjoying comparable success with similar strategies were Kashuba (correctly chose Mt. St. Maryís and Rhode Island as conference champs, but also chose Appalachian St.; Bradley; Central Florida; Nicholls St.; Wis.-Green Bay; Wisconsin; and UNLV as conference champs); ME Donadio (correctly chose George Mason as conference champ, along with Creighton and Kent at large, but also chose Bucknell; Iona; Jackson St.; Morgan St.; Nicholls St.; and Western Illinois as conference champs); M Papalia (correctly chose Arkansas St. as conference champ, but also chose Butler; Central Florida; Norfolk St.; SE Missouri St.; Toledo; Tulsa; and Xavier as conference champs); Yantosh (correctly chose Kent as conference champ, but also chose Colorado St.; Lamar; Louisville; Norfolk St.; and Pepperdine as conference champs, along with Butler; Georgia; Georgia Tech; NC State; and Wyoming at-large); and Sheehy (correctly chose Arkansas St. and Rhode Island as conference champs, along with Kent at-large, but also chose Alabama St.; Ball St.; Chattanooga; Norfolk St.; Pepperdine; Southern Illinois; UNLV; and Wisconsin as conference champs, along with Boise St.; California; Northwestern; Providence; and Belmont at-large).
Notwithstanding the strategy employed, 15 or fewer entrants successfully chose the conference champion in five conferences other than the MAC: Arkansas St., in the Sun Belt (15: J Donadio, Jr.; Harvie; J Hastings; Huffnagle; J Joseph; R Karpp; S Karpp; D Leach; Incineration Man; Packer; M Papalia; J Piccirillo; Salus; Scott; and Sheehy); Creighton, in the MVC (10: AJOB; Claude; Connelly; Gold; Henderson; J Joseph; Leahy; Leeds; R Seidel; and Whiteside); Rhode Island, in the Atlantic-10 (5: Gorman; Kashuba; D Kedson; Moose; and Sheehy); UNCC in Conference USA (2: Manute; Tenaglia); and Mt. St. Maryís in the Northeast (just Kashuba). Nobody chose Florida A&M in the MEAC.
Of course, the aforementioned strategy was by no means the only one employed by our cagey contestants. Mash Leachís misguided sibling, Domino Leach, chose an aggressive strategy, threatening the Commissioners with "the curse of the cat people" if he didnít win, and taunting the Villanova Wildcat.
A few contestants took a more insidious approach, perhaps hoping to confuse the Commissioners. M Joseph, for example, took "Louis St." to win the Sun Belt conference. The Commissioners decided that even if Louisiana State, an SEC member, somehow managed to temporarily join the Trans Am, they probably wouldnít be eligible for the conference championship.
Others opted for flat-out disregard of the rules, hoping to slip ineligible Wildcards past the Commissionersí watchful eyes. However, neither Budwell (Wisconsin) nor Yantosh (Miami-OH) succeeded in pushing their illegal candidates past our constant vigilance.
Most entrants, however, adopted more subtle ploys. D Kedson chose to use the famed Wamser Maneuver, choosing Kentucky in his Final 4 but not his Final 8. And continuing a trend made popular in 1998, five entrants chose Wildcards that they did not include in the field of 64: Gorman (Boise St.); Kohart (Minnesota); Bobbie Shaid (Minnesota); Moose (Washington); and Tenaglia (Arkansas). Seven shifty participants tried an even subtler ploy, choosing one or more teams for their Final 8 or Final 4 that they didnít even bother to select at-large: Carruth (Michigan St. in F8); Kane (Auburn in F8 and F4); I Kedson (St. Johnís in F8; Maryland in F4 and F8); Moose (Maryland in F8; UConn in F4 and F8); Quasi (St. Johnís in F8; Auburn and Maryland in F4 and F8); and, in a display so cunning that youíd probably need a classified clearance to even understand it, Sheehy included five teams in her Final 8 that she didnít choose to make the field (Maryland; Stanford; Utah; Syracuse; and Oklahoma), and three such teams in her Final 4 (Maryland; Stanford; and Utah).
Other conniving competitors chose ambiguity as a ploy, challenging the Commissioners to determine their intent. Several entrants chose "St. Francis" to win the Northeast Conference, a league containing both St. Francis (NY) and St. Francis (Pa) (we gave them all St. Francis (NY)). An even larger number chose "Miami" at-large, but failed to identify whether they meant Miami-FL or Miami-OH, both favored to get bids. FREG, one of several mutants apparently created several years ago in a frightening experiment that shouldnít be described in public, went so far as to choose "Miami" into his Final 8 (for the record, we gave him Miami-FL, but we made this decision before the tournament began).
Even more ambiguously diabolical was B Spitz, who chose "Delaware/Maine?" as her America East champion, apparently requesting the Commissionersí assistance. Alas for B Spitz, we chose Maine. And, employing the ultimate in ambiguity, D Padilla left one of his at-large selections blank. Similarly, guileful guys Baumgarten, Brady, and Warren took a chance that the Trans-America Conference tournament would be canceled, and declined to choose a champion from that conference.
107 out of 141 entrants (76%) chose Duke as their National Champion. The Commissioners, who are Duke fans, are concerned. In 1997 and 1998 combined, the contestants in this pool have managed a total of one (yes, 1) correct prediction of the National Champion (defending pool champion M Josephs chose Kentucky last year). In fact, over the nine years of the poolís existence, only twice have more than 25% of our entrants correctly predicted the Champ (in 1996, when 76% chose Kentucky, and in 1992, when 46% chose Duke). Four of the nine years featured two (2) or fewer correct guesses for Champion.
Next, in our collective estimation, is UConn, with 12 votes (Butch Acchione; Brady; Disbrow; ME Donadio; Grande; Kashuba; P Leach; Lester; J Marsala; Ostru; Sheehy; S Spitz); followed by Michigan St. (4: Bill Acchione; Cowboy; DíZuro; and Scott); Kentucky (4: Bud Acchione; M Josephs; M Piccirillo; Whiteside); Maryland (4: Abrams; Anderson; M Leach; Salus); Auburn (4: Gold; Packer; D Seidel; Shaw); Stanford (3: Manute; Baumgarten; Pearson); UCLA (D Josephs); Temple (Carruth); and Miami-FL (Brindisi).
Five entrants had their National Champions eliminated in the first weekend (Manute; Baumgarten; Pearson; D Josephs; Carruth; and Brindisi). Brindisi is in the odd position of having his Champion (Miami-FL) gone, but his Wildcard (Oklahoma) still alive.
Temple was our most popular Wildcard, chosen by 36 entrants, and it has paid off with 5 Wildcard points so far. Also cashing in were B Spitz, who chose Gonzaga; Brindisi, who chose Oklahoma; and Hombre de Enero, who chose SW Missouri St. In contrast, eleven entrants chose Wildcards that didnít even make the tournament: six people chose Xavier (Connelly; J Joseph; Quinn; Mike Mc; Nowakowski; and M Papalia); D Padilla chose California; Anderson chose DePaul; Raps chose Fresno St.; S Spitz chose Rutgers; and Gorman chose Boise St. Other singular Wildcard selections were turned in by S Karpp (Penn); Corrin (Murray St); Pearson (Okla. St.); I Kedson (Siena); and Pennybaker (Winthrop).
Duke was a unanimous selection into the Final 8 (the Commissioners are nervous), with five other teams receiving more than 95 votes: Michigan St. (124); UConn (121); Stanford (106 - oops); Maryland (105); and Auburn (96). Next was Cincinnati (71 - another oops); Kentucky (70); St. Johnís (61); Ohio St. (29); and several teams who arenít booking hotels at the Regionals: Utah (47); Miami-Florida (38); Arizona (37); North Carolina (19); Wisconsin (12); UCLA (9); and Indiana (5: Bud Acchione; Kashuba; Lundberg; January Man; S Spitz). Other interesting picks, good and bad, include Temple (4: Carruth; J Einbinder-Schatz; S Karpp; Lundberg); Miami-Ohio (3: R Karpp; Incineration Man; S Shaid); Kansas (3: Gorman; Arrow Man; J Piccirillo); Florida (2: Anderson; A Capella); Texas (2: Moose; Pearson); Iowa (2: Harvie; P Leach); Louisville (Gold); Pepperdine (S Karpp); Missouri (Corrin); Hofstra (S Karpp); Tennessee (Gold); Charleston (Tenaglia); and UNCC (S Karpp).
But just because five of the six top votegetters are still alive (and 7 of 9) donít get your hopes up Ė itís distribution that counts. Consider Gold, who has four of his Final 8 tied up in the South (Auburn; Maryland; St. Johnís; Louisville) and three more tied up in the East (Duke; Cincinnati; and Tennessee), but only one (UConn) in the West and Midwest combined. Dodger is similarly afflicted, with seven of his teams tied up in the South (Auburn; Maryland; St. Johnís; and UCLA) and Midwest (Michigan St.; Kentucky; Arizona). In fact, 18 entrants have four teams stacked in one region: including Alberts (South); Selig (Midwest); Kohart (South); Bill Acchione (Midwest); Cowboy (Midwest); D Papalia (Midwest); GREF (South); Henderson (East); Kashuba (South); J Donadio, Sr. (South); Manute (Midwest); Moyer (South); M Papalia (South); Scott (South); Brooks (Midwest); Salus (South); Incineration Man (Midwest); and Anderson (South). Eleven others have six teams tied up in two Regions, three apiece: Gorman (West & Midwest); Huffnagle (East & South); Corrin (Midwest & South); Yantosh (South & East); J Piccirillo (West & Midwest); Broder (East & Midwest); Grande (Midwest & South); Lane (Midwest & West); Vigliotta (East & West); Disbrow (East & Midwest); and Warren (South & West). Another 76 have three tied up in one Region (but donít worry, we wonít list them here). For those of you reading on the web, you can examine everybodyís Final 8 and Final 4 picks, by clicking on the words "Final 8" or "Final 4" in this sentence.
Duke is also our overwhelming favorite to get to the Final 4 (the Commissioners are shaking), with 139 (out of 141) votes. Next are Michigan St. (75); UConn (69); Stanford (54 - oops); Maryland (53); Auburn (42); Cincinnati (28 - eek); Kentucky (21); Utah (19); St. Johnís (16); Miami-FL (13); Arizona (9); Ohio St. (5: Anderson; J Einbinder-Schatz; Gorman; Huffnagle; Russell); UCLA (4: DíZuro; Dodger; D Josephs; Stover); Indiana (3: Bud Acchione; Kashuba; S Spitz); Temple (2: Carruth; S Karpp); North Carolina (2: S Karpp; Whiteside); and Wisconsin (Stover).
Distribution is even more problematic here, as seven entrants have three of their Final 4 stuck in one Region: Selig (Midwest); Huffnagle (East); Henderson (East); Carruth (East); Jaffe (East); Brooks (Midwest); and Quasi II (East). Another ten entrants have all four of their Final 4 tied up in two Regions, two apiece: Arrow Man (East & Midwest); Stover (East & South); Sheppard (East & Midwest); Brindisi (East & Midwest); Yantosh (East & South); Ostru (East & West); J Piccirillo (East & Midwest); R Karpp (East & West); S Shaid (East & West); and Anderson (East & South). Another 73 have two of their Final 4 teams in one Region.
In the Tag Team competition, Arnieís Army of Bridge Players is once again expanding, and is now up to 12 players (Abrams; Brady; Connelly; Clark; AJOB; Tenaglia; Brooks; D Josephs; M Josephs; Ostru; Rosen; and Selig). This hard-core recruiting effort has given the Bridgesters just the push they needed to overtake (for now) last yearís Tag Team winners, the "Friends of JJ" (consisting of J Joseph; M Joseph; D Papalia; M Papalia; Moyer; Lane; J Donadio, Jr.; J Donadio, Sr.; and ME Donadio), as currently Arnieís Army is leading the Friends of JJ by an average score of 185.67 to 184.20. Unfortunately for the card-toting commandos, they may win the battle but lose the war. Currently trumping Arnieís Army of Bridge Players are both the MCs (Joe Mc; Mike Mc; Moose), with an average of 188.33, and our current Tag Team leader, the Hastings Group (J Hastings; P Hastings; J Piccirillo; M Piccirillo; Bland; and Wagner), with an average of 189.00. The once-proud Nova Gang is down to three members, those Amazing Alliterative Acchiones (Bill Acchione; Butch Acchione; Bud Acchione), who are hanging in there, at 184.00. Considerably behind the leaders are the Kedson/Shaid contingent (D Kedson; I Kedson; L Kedson; P Kedson; Jaffe; Quasi; Quasi II; Bobbie Shaid; S Shaid; A Capella), at 181.50; and the Karpp/Disbrow family (R Karpp; Disbrow; S Karpp), averaging 173.33. As always, bringing up the rear in this competition is the Leach Gang (E Leach; P Leach; M Leach; D Leach), who average 169.75. If you add in the members of the extended Leach Gang (Perez; Pogach; Raps), the team average soars all the way to 170.00, which is still in last place.
Our overall average score was 183.09, which is almost ten points better than our previous best after selection of the field, set last year at 174.33. And isnít that a scary thought?
Perhaps the world is upside-down. Certainly, pool knowledge appears to deteriorate as one goes from south to north, as evidenced by our Geographical Challenge, in which the South leads, with an average score of 193.5, followed by the Beltway area (191.67); New Jersey (188.09); Pennsylvania (184.00); the New York City area (175.00); New England (172.33); and, finally, the Midwest (149.00). In regional battles, South Jersey leads North Jersey (naturally), 189.00 to 185.50; Western PA (187.50) leads both the Philadelphia area suburbs (184.29) and the urbs (182.13); and the Connecticut suburbs (187.50) lead the New York state suburbs (175.00).
Further lending credence to the "world is upside-down" theory is the fact that Males (183.25) have a slight lead over Females (181.81) and adults (183.17) lead children (180.25). Even more convincing is the fact that Lawyers (185.20) are ahead of Humans (183.19), although both trail Felines (185.67). Canines (178.00) trail the pack, although they have managed to get ahead of Mutants (176.25).
Additional evidence may be found in the fact that Students (182.75) lead Teachers (175.67), and that former NCAA Players (187.00) lead Coaches (186.50).
In the occupational rankings, Sales people (191.33) have talked their way ahead of Accountants (190.91), Retired people (187.33); Engineers (185.76); and Computer people (185.25). Practicing Attorneys (185.17) trail pretty much everyone, with the exception of Financial people (176.67).
Among employers with three or more entrants, the strongest showing so far has been turned in by T Rowe Price (191.67), followed by Retired (187.33); the Delaware Investment Group (186.25); Urban Engineers (185.21); PaDOT (183.56); and "Self" (179.38).
Last year, in the Name Game, the Ricks made a suprising comeback to tie for first. This year, the Ricks (R Seidel; D Seidel; Schlegel; Simon; Salus) have continued their improvement, and are currently alone in the top spot, with an average of 192.40. Hot on their heels are the Mr. Bills (Gorman; Acchione; Byrnes; McGarrigel; and Quinn), at 191.80, and the Average Joes (Glowacki; Mc; Hastings; Marsala), at 191.50. In the middle are the Tryiní Brians (Stover; Corrin; Leahy), at 187.33; the Dear Johns (Joseph; Donadio, Jr.; Donadio, Sr.; Raps; Broder), at 186.60; the Susans (Abrams; Hanson; Shaid), at 185.67; and the Davids (Papalia; Josephs; Pennybaker; Lundberg; Kedson; Harvie), at 183.50. The largest name group, the Mikes (Lane; Mc; Leinheiser; Papalia; Moyer; Einbinder-Schatz; Scott; Baer; Coach Doc; Perez; Wetzel; and Manute), is currently one of the weakest, with an average of 179.42, and trailed only by the Second-to-Last Dons (Sheppard; Padillo; Russell), and the formerly Big Bad Bully Bobs (DíZuro; Huffnagle; Peloso; Incineration Man; Shaw; Shaid; and RC Natalini), with a dismal 174.86.
All scoring competitions will be updated in the next newsletter, along with Mascot Trivia, All-Name teams, and ten-year records. Enjoy the games.
Standings Through Selection of the Field
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|Name||Score||Conf Champs||Wild Card||Champion||Final 8||Final 4|
|John Donadio, Sr.||200||19||Kansas||Duke|
|Bill Acchione||199||20||Temple||Michigan St|
|Brian Corrin||193||17||Murray St||Duke|
|Mike Scott||192||18||Temple||Michigan St|
|Scott Pearson||191||16||Oklahoma St||Stanford|
|Tim & Mike Leinheiser||187||17||Louisville||Duke|
|Nick Mahalko, III||186||15||Temple||Duke|
|Bob D'Zuro||180||15||Arkansas||Michigan St|
|Quasi Kedson II||180||15||Louisville||Duke|
|Michael Aub (Manute)||179||16||Tennessee||Stanford|
|Mary Ellen Donadio||177||15||Louisville||UConn|
|Hombre de Enero||176||16||SW Missouri St||Duke|
|John Donadio, Jr.||175||14||Temple||Duke|
|Bill Gorman||168||15||Boise St||Duke|
|Jon Raps||163||11||Fresno St||Duke|