By Brendan Loy
Add three names to The Living Room Times Hall of Eternal Glory: Mike Boyd of Raleigh, NC; Scott Fort of Warrior, AL; and Ross Binder of Minneapolis, MN — champions of the 18th annual Men’s NCAA Pool, 16th annual Women’s NCAA Pool, and 9th annual NIT Pool, respectively.
Actually, Fort’s name is not a new addition to the Hall of Eternal Glory. He won the 10th annual Women’s NCAA Pool in 2007, and tonight, he clinched the 16th annual Women’s NCAA Pool when UConn won the national championship, as he predicted. (Fort had the Huskies beating Baylor; instead, they trounced Louisville, who stunned Baylor in the Sweet 16.)
Fort finished with 331 points out of a possible 477. That’s a bit low by historical LRT women’s pool standards, indicative of the unusual volume of upsets this year, several of them by Louisville. But regardless of point total, Fort is in elite company: he is one of seven two-time LRT pool winners over the pools’ 18 years of existence (and 42 pools in all). The double champions are Jenn Castelhano (2001 women’s, 2002 men’s), Todd Stigliano (2001 women’s, 2005 women’s), Rick Boeckler (2003 women’s, 2006 women’s), Matt Kagan (2004 men’s, 2004 women’s), Gary Kirby (2007 NIT, 2008 NIT), Michael Holtsberg (2009 women’s, 2012 women’s), and now Fort (2007 women’s, 2013 women’s).
Jeb McRary (@tatsumaki4ryu) of Washington, DC finished second with 228 points. Bonnie Stone, my newspaper adviser back in the LRT pools’ Newington High School days, finished third with 321 points, capping off a massive surge from the mid-60s in the 94-person pool just last weekend. She alone predicted Louisville’s run to the title game, and gained a ton of points from that, but fell just short of making up enough ground from her early-round stumbles to win the pool. Kevin Hauschulz, who holds the record for most LRT pools competed in without winning (39 of the 42 pools I’ve done), finished 4th with 320 points. Greg Kagan, who would have won the pool if Louisville had won tonight, and Gary Atkinson tied for 5th at 316.
Rounding out the Top 10: Bob Fisch (313); my dad, Joe Loy (308); 2011 champion and daughter of the national championship-winning coach, Jenna Auriemma Stigliano (306); and my lovely wife, Becky Loy (302), who would have won if Notre Dame had beaten UConn in the semifinals Sunday. Complete women’s pool standings here.
While the women’s pool went down to the final game, the men’s pool was settled on Saturday when Michigan beat Syracuse in the second Final Four game. That clinched the pool championship for Mike Boyd, husband of Karen Torgersen (@vtktorg), who was the only contestant to correctly predict a Michigan-Louisville title game. He also got the champion right — Louisville — but that only served to increase his point total, to 331 points. That’s exactly the same as Fort’s total in the women’s pool, which is a rarity; the women’s pool champ usually scores higher than the men’s pool champ.
Jimmy Smith (@smithadventure), executive pastor at Stapleton Fellowship Church, finished second with 311 points. He would have won if Syracuse, instead of Michigan, had lost the title game to Louisville. Ginny Zak, Becky’s mother, who briefly led the pool after her mascot-based entry successfully predicted the surprise Elite Eight runs by Wichita State, Syracuse and Marquette, finished third with 307 points. Steve Vivier of Connecticut finished fourth with 300, and Lief Olsen of Denver fifth with 293.
The rest of the Top 10: Jerry Palm, the CBS bracketologist and BCS guru, and a Twitter friend of mine, finished sixth with 286 points; Sarah Craddock had 283; Robert O’Brien, 282; and Patrick Cullen, Elizabeth Styles and Kyle Cologne tied for ninth with 279. Complete men’s pool standings here.
Finally, the NIT Pool. That one, like the men’s pool, was decided in the semifinals. Ross Binder (@RossWB), an editor of the SB Nation Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants, clinched the pool when his Hawkeyes beat Maryland in the second semifinal, as he predicted. “Woo! ETERNAL GLORY!” he tweeted afterward, adding, “Hooray! Rampant homerism pays off at last!” Binder also correctly picked the other finalist, Baylor, though he wrongly picked Iowa to beat the Bears. But he won the pool anyway, finishing with 232 out of a possible 317 points.
Steve Vivier finished second with 212 points, making him the only contestant to finish in the Top 10 (indeed, Top 5) of two LRT pools this year (you may recall he was #4 in the men’s pool). Jeff Freeze (@bigfreezer), winner of the 2008 women’s pool, and Daniel Pilz, co-champ of the 2004 women’s pool, tied for third with 207 points. Aaron Kinser (@AaronK_MN) finished fifth with 203 points. Freeze would have won the pool if Maryland had beaten Iowa in that decisive semifinal; Kinser would have won the pool if, in the prior semifinal, BYU had beaten Baylor, and had gone on to defeat either Iowa or Maryland in the title game.