By Brendan Loy
Dayton’s win over North Carolina in the NIT title game Thursday lifted Steve Ivey of Greensboro, NC to the championship of the 6th annual — and perhaps last — Living Room Times NIT pool. The Flyers’ win also denied Rick Boeckler a record third LRT pool title.
Ivey, a 2005 Kentucky grad, finishes with 188 points out of a possible 317. He did not pick Dayton to win the championship — his bracket had the Flyers losing the title game to Mississippi State (which was in fact eliminated in the second round by UNC) — but Ivey needed Dayton to win because otherwise, Boeckler, who picked the Tar Heels, would have overtaken him in the standings.
Boeckler finishes second with 181 points, seven points (i.e., one first-round game) behind the winner. Greg Kagan is third with 170. Tied for fourth with 170 points are Jon Caplin, the only contestant to correctly pick Dayton as the NIT champ, and Josh Rubin.
Rounding out the Top 10 are Joe Hiegel (159 points), Kelly Strutz (158), David K. and Tim Wiseman (156 each), and Becky Loy and Larry Caplin (152). That’s four members of the extended Zak-Boeckler-Caplin family in the Top 10. Complete standings here.
Ivey’s winning point total of 188 is by far the lowest since the NIT adopted its current 32-team format (and thus the pool adopted its current 317-point format) in 2007. Winners in 2007-2009 had final point totals of 268, 273 and 233, respectively.
The low scores this year are indicative of an unpredictable tournament. Ivey went 14-for-16 in the first round, but then just 4-for-8 in picking the quarterfinalists, 2-for-4 in picking the semifinalists, 1-for-2 in picking the finalists, and 0-for-1 in the title game. That’s a far cry from, say, Gary Kirby’s winning 2007 bracket, but it’s good enough for first place and a championship t-shirt (the first ever awarded for the NIT pool) in 2010.
Ivey does not personally know pool administrator Brendan Loy, but discovered the BrendanLoy.com NIT Pool (as it was then called) in 2007 when searching online for an NIT bracket contest. He has entered the NIT pool — and only the NIT pool, never the NCAA pools — each year since. He finished 17th out of 93 in 2007, ninth out of 62 in ‘08, tenth out of 74 in ‘09, and of course, first out of 54 this year.
Boeckler, of Silver Spring, MD, is Becky Loy’s uncle, and won the 2003 and 2006 LRT women’s NCAA pools. He is one of four contestants to win twice in the 15-year history of LRT pools, along with Jenn Castelhano (2001 men’s & 2002 women’s), Todd Stigliano (2001 & 2005 women’s) and Matt Kagan (2004 men’s & women’s. He would’ve been the first three-time winner, if North Carolina had won Thursday.