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Posts from 2011 March

By Brendan Loy

IMG_8256.JPG Mike Quinn, a.k.a. “isuquinndog,” a 2001 Illinois State alum and one-time Missouri Valley Conference guestblogger on the Irish Trojan’s Blog, won the 7th annual Living Room Times NIT Pool thanks to MVC runner-up Wichita State’s 66-57 win over Alabama in the NIT championship game.

Quinn, seen at right with me at the 2006 MVC tourney, actually did not predict Wichita’s success — indeed, they were the only NIT Final Four team he did not correctly pick. But because of his success elsewhere in the bracket, he had the lead heading into the title game, and merely needed Alabama to lose so that Jeff Morrison, who had picked the Tide, wouldn’t overtake him on the leaderboard.

Quinn, whose Final Four was Alabama, Colorado, Washington State and Dayton, and Morrison, who had Bama, CU, Oklahoma State and Wichita State, were the only two contestants who got 3 of the Final 4 right. Nobody got all four.

Quinn finished with 196 points out of a possible 317. Morrison is second with 189, followed by Vinny Jankowski and Joshua Krause with 174, Allan Lewis with 167, Gary Kirby with 166, Tim Wiseman with 159, Don LaPlante with 154, and rounding out the Top Ten, Matt Thomsen and my 3-year-old daughter “Loyette” with 154. Full standings here.

.@midmajority @ValleyHoops: #AYG #GhostBracket: WICHITA!

1 Comment  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Thomas Friedman nails it, or so it seems to me, in his analysis of what Andrew Sullivan calls the Middle East’s 1848 — starting with the line “This is really hard stuff, and it’s just the beginning.”

When an entire region that has been living outside the biggest global trends of free politics and free markets for half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decides to join history — and each one of these states has a different ethnic, tribal, sectarian and political orientation and a loose coalition of Western and Arab states with mixed motives trying to figure out how to help them — well, folks, you’re going to end up with some very strange-looking policy animals. And Libya is just the first of many hard choices we’re going to face in the “new” Middle East.

How could it not be? In Libya, we have to figure out whether to help rebels we do not know topple a terrible dictator we do not like, while at the same time we turn a blind eye to a monarch whom we do like in Bahrain, who has violently suppressed people we also like — Bahraini democrats — because these people we like have in their ranks people we don’t like: pro-Iranian Shiite hard-liners. All the while in Saudi Arabia, leaders we like are telling us we never should have let go of the leader who was so disliked by his own people — Hosni Mubarak — and, while we would like to tell the Saudi leaders to take a hike on this subject, we can’t because they have so much oil and money that we like. And this is a lot like our dilemma in Syria where a regime we don’t like — and which probably killed the prime minister of Lebanon whom it disliked — could be toppled by people who say what we like, but we’re not sure they all really believe what we like because among them could be Sunni fundamentalists, who, if they seize power, could suppress all those minorities in Syria whom they don’t like.

Foreign policy is so, so complicated. I’ve increasingly come to believe that those, both Left and Right, who believe it can be fit into a straightforward ideological box are, basically without exception, fools. Or rather, I should say, they’re being foolish in that particular regard. They may not be fools on other topics. There are lots of smart, very smart, neo-cons and paleo-cons and isolationists and noninterventionists and various other -ives and -ists. But the pragmatists, the situationalists, are fundamentally correct, maddening though that is to folks who are naturally predisposed to be idealists like, yes, myself (grand theories of #PANIC!!! and doom notwithstanding). Of course, the pragmatists and situationalists can and do get their pragmatic, situational, case-by-case judgments wrong in certain particular cases — it’s always much easier to know that in hindsight, but sometimes it might also be true with foresight — but their basic approach (that nuance and details matter) is correct, and the ideologues’ basic approach (that they don’t) is wrong.

This stuff is hard. The fact that Obama seems to be struggling with the complexity of it, rather than taking a pre-determined ideological approach and “not blinking” or wavering or otherwise risking America’s “prestige” (hi Newt) in the pursuit of sound policy, is a feature, not a bug.

Obama hasn’t handled this perfectly, but that’s impossible. Meanwhile, I believe there is a directly inverse relationship between “seeming confident” and “having a f***ing idea what you’re doing” in this sort of situation — those who seem confident don’t know what they don’t know; those who don’t seem confident may actually have a clue — and I prefer someone in the latter camp than the former, thank you very much.

Friedman again:

Welcome to the Middle East of 2011! You want the truth about it? You can’t handle the truth. The truth is that it’s a dangerous, violent, hope-filled and potentially hugely positive or explosive mess — fraught with moral and political ambiguities. We have to build democracy in the Middle East we’ve got, not the one we want — and this is the one we’ve got.

That’s why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky.

Me too.

By Brendan Loy

OMG:

[A]s if any Irish-Trojans confrontation required a more electrified backdrop, there was this bombshell out of South Bend on Wednesday: Notre Dame will host its first home night game in 21 years this fall, and the opponent will be USC.

The Oct. 22 matchup between the teams will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CDT. It’s the first Notre Dame Stadium night game since Michigan visited under the lights in 1990.

OMG. WANT.

By Brendan Loy

All right, here is where things now stand.

In the Women’s NCAA Pool, after wins by UConn and Texas A&M, it’s down to a “Final Four” of Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano, Andrew Long, Lisa Velte and Michael Watkins. Stigliano (daughter of Geno, UConn alum, and wife of my high-school classmate Todd) can wrap things up early if Texas A&M beats Stanford in Sunday’s first Final Four game. If that happens, she would clinch the pool right there, regardless of how her father’s team does. On the other hand, if Stanford wins, Stigliano is eliminated, and Long (USC ‘02 alum and my Best Man) can clinch the pool if Notre Dame beats UConn in second semifinal. If the Huskies win, Long is out, and the pool will be decided by the UConn-Stanford title game: Velte (my NDLS ‘07 classmate) wins if UConn does, Watkins (Internet entrant from Columbus, Ohio) if Stanford does.

Meanwhile, in the NIT Pool, it was HEARTBREAK CITY!!! for Colorado and Loyette (and Matt Thomsen), as Alabama won 62-61 over the Buffs, whose attempted buzzer-beater didn’t fall in. Earlier, Wazzu turned in an epic coug-job, losing 75-44 to Wichita State. So Thursday’s title game is Wichita vs. Alabama, setting up a classic mid-major vs. major battle, both in the tournament and in the pool. Mike Quinn (a.k.a. isuquinndog, a.k.a. @maquinn78), a 2001 Illinois State alum, will win if his Redbirds’ conference-mates, the Shockers, win. Jeff Morrison (a.k.a. “JD”), a 2004 Iowa State alum, will win if their BCS foes, the Crimson Tide, win. Quinn and Morrison, incidentally, are both long-time blog readers who I’ve met in real life — Quinn in St. Louis at Arch Madness in 2006, Morrison in Denver for the premier of the “Star Trek” movie in 2009. (#NERDS!)

2 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

I’m officially “going sharpie” on UConn over Duke in the women’s Elite Eight. So, what are the scenarios in the 14th annual LRT Women’s NCAA Pool heading into the last regional final, between Big 12 foes #1 Baylor and #2 Texas A&M later tonight?

• If Baylor wins the title or loses to Notre Dame in the title game, Cam McLachlan wins.
• If UConn beats Baylor in the title game, Dan Dinunzio wins.
• If Baylor wins tonight and UConn beats Stanford for the title, Peter Timbrell and Randy Styles finish tied for the pool championship.
• If A&M wins tonight and UConn beats Stanford for the title, Lisa Velte wins.
• If A&M wins tonight and Stanford beats UConn for the title, or if Baylor wins tonight and Stanford either wins the title or loses to Notre Dame, Michael Watkins wins the pool.
• If A&M wins tonight and it’s a Notre Dame vs. Stanford title game, Andrew Long wins.
• If Texas A&M reaches the title game, Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano wins the pool.

That means a Baylor win tonight eliminates Velte, Long and Stigliano, while an A&M win eliminates McLachlan, Dinunzio, Timbrell and Styles. Only Watkins survives into the Final Four regardless of the outcome (though he’s much better off if Baylor wins).

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By Brendan Loy

The NIT semifinals are underway. A reminder of the stakes in the 7th annual Living Room Times NIT Pool:

• If Colorado wins the NIT title, my high-school classmate Matt Thomsen and my 3-year-old daughter “Loyette” will tie for the pool championship.
• If Wichita State or Washington State wins the title, or if Washington State loses to Alabama in the title game, Mike Quinn (a.k.a. isuquinndog, a.k.a. @maquinn78), a 2001 Illinois State alum, will win.
• If Alabama beats Wichita State in the title game, Jeff Morrison (a.k.a. “JD”), a 2004 Iowa State alum, will win.

That means Quinn is the only contestant who could potentially clinch the pool tonight, if Washington State and Alabama both win. It’s not looking too good for that scenario right now, though.

P.S. Yeah, the headline is biased. So sue me. GO LOYETTE GO! :)

1 Comment  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

1 Comment  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Ladies and gentlemen, the craziest Final Four ever, seen on my AYG #GiantBracket:

I thought for sure the bracket would be all boring black text by now. I’m thrilled it’s still colorful and exclamation point-filled. :)

Anyway, three years after all four #1 seeds made the Final Four for the first time ever, we have the first ever Final Four with no #1s or #2s. Instead, #3 UConn, #4 Kentucky, #8 Butler and #11 Virginia Commonwealth are the last four teams standing, all competing for college basketball’s national championship. And of course, virtually nobody predicted it.

In the ESPN Tournament Challenge, out of 5.9 million brackets submitted, exactly two — jspearlman and vinquach — have the entire Final Four right. In the 16th annual Living Room Times Men’s NCAA Pool, out of 206 contestants, only two managed to get even 2 teams right: Jen Deschenes of Newington, CT (UConn, Butler) and Matt Ralston of Chicago, IL (UConn, Kentucky). Another 57 contestants got 1 team right (UConn 46, Kentucky 8, Butler 2, VCU 1). 147 contestants, more than 70 percent of the total, didn’t pick a single Final Four team correctly.

Even so, there is enough potential for movement among those near the top of the leaderboard that a variety of scenarios are still in play. Specifically, there are four contestants still alive — a “Final Four,” if you will. They are: Dane Lindberg, currently in first place; Robert Carlos, currently in second; Ross Lancaster, currently tied for fourth; and Pat McGriff, currently tied for 17th. (Links go to their brackets.)

Lindberg, my friend and USC classmate who now lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Kristen Kotyk (whose brother attends VCU; Dane’s parents graduated from Butler), will win the pool if there’s a Butler-Kentucky title game, or if Butler beats UConn for the title. Put another way, he’ll win if Butler wins the championship or loses to Kentucky. (If he’d followed his wife’s advice to put VCU in the Final Four along with Butler, he’d have clinched the pool by now.)

Carlos, a USC Class of 2001 alum and former student trainer for the Trojan football and baseball teams, who I know only via Twitter, will win the pool if VCU beats UConn in the championship game.

Lancaster, a North Texas alumnus & grad student (SUN BELT WEST REPRESENT!) who I met via The Mid-Majority’s cult community of mid-major obsessives, will win the pool if there’s a Kentucky-VCU title game. Here’s a photo of Lancaster with the original Bally.

McGriff, an employee of Iowa State University who found my pools through the Internet some years ago, will win the pool if UConn wins the championship, whether over Butler or VCU.

Complete standings here.

Meanwhile, in the 14th annual LRT women’s pool, the tournament is down to the Elite 8, but a “Fabulous 15” are still alive to win — led by Andrew Long, currently in first place, who would win in 30 of the remaining 128 scenarios, and Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano, daughter of the UConn coach, currently tied for eighth place, who would win in 26 scenarios. Full standings here; scenarios here.

10 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

@Brendanloy, you do the paperwork I’ll enter the pool? Butler Duke rematch, Butler wins. Higher seed wins others, USC, Asheville, coin flip.7:46 AM Mar 14th via Twitterrific

Dane Lindberg, the son of two Butler alumni, who entered the 16th annual Living Room Times Men’s NCAA Pool via the above tweet (and a follow-up Facebook thread), retook the lead Saturday when #8-seed Butler shocked the world by beating #2 Florida and advancing to its second consecutive Final Four.

For Butler and its fans, the win not only clinched a stunning return to college basketball’s biggest stage for an archetypal mid-major program out of the Horizon League (where the Bulldogs went 13-5 this season), it also avenged memorable losses to Florida in 2000 and 2007 (the latter of which I witnessed in person, wearing the same t-shirt — bought before the game — that I wore today).

For Lindberg, the win means he now has 239 points out of a possible 364 in the LRT pool, and will win the pool if the Bulldogs win the national championship or lose the title game to Kentucky.

Lindberg, a friend and USC classmate of mine who now lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Kristen Kotyk, did not enter last year’s pool, but he wrote on Facebook (in the process of entering this year’s pool) that “I meant to tell you to put me down for Butler taking it all last year, and was bummed I had no way to prove it.” So he decided to do the same thing in 2011. And he almost did something even more remarkable: he tweeted Saturday that “Kristen wanted me to put in for VCU too, but I thought Butler to win was crazy enough.” Had he picked the Rams to reach the Final Four, Lindberg would have 263 points and a 25-point lead right now, and would be in position to clinch the pool Sunday if VCU and Kentucky win.

Instead, Lindberg has just a 1-point edge over Robert Carlos (@uscarlos) and just a 6-point advantage over Deanna Gabriel (@deannagabriel), who sit in second and third place with with 238 and 233 points, respectively. Carlos will win the pool if Kansas plays Kentucky in the title game, or if UConn loses the title game to either Kansas or VCU. Gabriel will win if VCU beats North Carolina in the title game.

Others still alive to win are Sergio Lopez, presently in 8th place with 223 points (wins if UNC beats Butler or VCU in title game); Charles Fenwick, 14th with 216 (wins if Kansas beats UNC in title game); Pat McGriff, 16th with 215 (wins if UConn wins the championship); Ross Lancaster, presently 23rd with 212 (wins if it’s a Kentucky-VCU title game); and Scott Paine, 38th with 205 (wins if UNC beats Kansas in title game).

Vicki Cheeseman is 4th with 228 points, but is mathematically eliminated from winning; the same goes for Darrell Kindle, Eric Schmoldt and 2005 champ Brian Kiolbasa, tied for 5th with 225 points. Even Jen Deschenes, presently in 16th place, is mathematically eliminated despite being the only contestant to pick both UConn and Butler to reach the Final Four. (Deschenes was just 21-11 in the first round.)

Complete standings here. I’ll update the women’s pool tomorrow — sorry for the delay there.

2 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Dane, you may just win this thing. The Dawgs won’t stop barking! #fate?

GO BUTLER!!! BEAT FLORIDA!!! Avenge ‘00 and ‘07!!!

Okay, VCU and Richmond. Your turn to keep the right side of my AYG #GiantBracket looking increasingly ridiculous.

Your move, Richmond and VCU.

P.S. R.I.P., Jimmermania. :(

P.P.S. Duke sucks.

10 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Heh. Gus has The Jimmer’s game tonight. w00t w00t.

1 Comment  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Andrew Long and Jon Caplin — my best man and Becky’s cousin, respectively — are tied atop the 14th annual Living Room Times Women’s NCAA Pool with 200 points out of a possible 240. Each got just 3 first-round games wrong and 4 second-round games wrong.

Meanwhile, Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano, wife of past pool champion Todd Stigliano and daughter of UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma, is tied for third with Michael Watkins of Columbus, OH, with 197 points — and Stigliano, who has her father’s team emerging as national champion from a Final Four otherwise loaded with 2-seeds (Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and already-eliminated Xavier), is the slight favorite to win the pool, assuming all of the 32,768 possible scenarios for the tournament’s remaining 15 games are created equal. She would win in 13.8% of the scenarios, compared to 11.5% apiece for Caplin and Long, and 3.2% for Watkins. (Meanwhile, her husband Todd, my high-school classmate and the champion of the 2001 and 2005 LRT women’s pools, sits in 23rd place and would win in 2.2% of scenarios.)

Other notables: Defending champion Lauren Taylor is 22nd, and would win in 4.0% of scenarios. Becky is 12th, but cannot win because her remaining picks are identical to Watkins’ picks. Meanwhile Becky’s mother, Ginny Zak, is currently in 57th place, but would win in 12.8% of scenarios — second only to Jenna Stigliano — largely because of her highly unusual pick of #5-seed Green Bay winning the national title. I’m in 66th place, behind Becky, Ginny and Loyette, who is in 64th. No members of the Loy household are mathematically alive to win.

Full standings here and scenarios here.

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By Brendan Loy

The NIT Final Four is set — Colorado, Alabama, Wichita State and Washington State — and four contestants are still alive to win the 7th annual Living Room Times NIT Pool: Mike Quinn, Jeff Morrison, Matt Thomsen and my 3-year-old daughter, “Loyette.”

Quinn, a 2001 Illinois State alum, currently leads with 176 out of a possible 252 points. He got three of the Final Four right: Colorado, Alabama and Wazzu. Morrison, a 2004 Iowa State alum, is second, with 169 points. He also picked three of the semifinalists: Colorado, Alabama and Wichita. Morrison has Alabama winning the title; Quinn has Wazzu beating Alabama in the title game.

Thomsen, my 1999 Newington High School classmate and a 2004 University of New Haven alum, and Loyette, who is currently attending preschool, are among those tied for third with 154 points. They have identical picks going forward, and will finish tied with each other no matter what. The only question is where on the leaderboard they’ll be tied. If Colorado wins the NIT title — which both of them predicted — they’ll tie for first.

If Alabama beats Wichita State in the title game, Morrison will win. If it’s an Alabama-Wazzu title game, or if either Wazzu or Wichita wins the title, Quinn will win.

36 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By dcl

There has been a lot of virtual ink spilled on the topic of the NYT pay wall. Just visit Daring Fireball for a run down of some of the better comments on this.

The short of it is this, the pricing model is confusing and complicated, and subscribing to a print edition (either weekdays or Sunday only) will net you the full digital which costs more than your subscription per annum… (Some sort of tax on people that can’t do math?)

But we must assume that the Times business people can do math quite well. And this whole thing doesn’t make any sense until your remember one very important thing, ads in the print edition of the times are worth a hell of a lot more than the ones in the online edition, so anything that suppresses print subscriptions even a little cost them millions, and anything that pushes that up even a little grosses millions of dollars. Even if you throw the paper away, the NYT gets to count you in their circulation numbers they provide to advertisers. You are worth a lot of money as a print subscriber; that’s why they chase you like a jealous and clingy ex whenever you try to cancel your subscription. And you continue to be worth a lot of money until the print advertisers realize everyone is just throwing the paper in the recycling bin, un-read, along with the phonebook.

Continue reading »

28 Comments  |  Categories: The Guest Room, The Media

By Brendan Loy

I’ve long said Tim Pawlenty is the “Generic Republican” — that mythical figure in the polls, who does better against Obama than actual Republicans with actual name recognition — much like Richard Gephardt was the “Generic Democrat” in 2004 who, in retrospect, would have stood a much better chance against Bush than any of the more exciting but deeply flawed front-runners for the Democratic nomination (eventual nominee/serial flip-flopper Kerry, screamer Dean, deranged narcissist & pathological liar Edwards, empty suit Clark). I’ve even attempted, without success so far, to start a #GenericRepublican meme on Twitter, because honestly, that’s who Pawlenty is.

Even I, though, am almost stunned by the overwhelming genericness of his exploratory committee announcement video, released today. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very well produced, in a generically-technically-proficient, generically-aping-modern-cinematography, generically-using-uplifting-music, generically-tugging-patriotic-heartstrings sort of way. But oh, the messaging! So freaking generic! I love it! Generic Republican 2012!

By Brendan Loy

Ken Stern, a USC Trojan and long-time blog reader who lives in Thomaston, Maine, leads the 16th annual Living Room Times Men’s NCAA Pool after the opening weekend, with 193 out of a possible 252 points and a pool-best 12 of the Sweet 16 teams.

Among those twelve is VCU, though Stern actually picked USC to beat the Rams in the “First Four,” and then had the Trojans reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Under the rules, he gets credit for VCU’s run. (More on that later in this post.)

Gonzaga alum Benjamin Sloniker, presently of Moscow, ID, is second with 190 points. Alec Taylor is third with 189. Dane Lindberg — who has Butler winning the national title — Keith DeMonstoy and Jason Rogers are tied for fourth with 183. Full standings here.

(Incidentally, President Barack Obama would have 186 points if he had entered the Living Room Times pool, and indeed, would be winning the pool if the “First Four” picks — which he did not make — didn’t count.)

As for who is mathematically alive to win, the scenario listing is here. Lindberg, presently in 4th place, would win in the largest number of scenarios, 12.6%, presumably because he cleans up in nearly all scenarios in which his national champion pick, Butler, keeps advancing. In all, 82 of the 207 contestants are still alive.

Meanwhile, in the 14th annual LRT Women’s NCAA Pool, there’s a tie for first place between Peter Timbrell of Vernon, CT and Scott Paine of Pennsylvania, each of whom has 124 out of a possible 128 points after a 31-for-32 first round. (Timbrell wrongly picked #11 Dayton over #6 Penn State; Paine failed to predict #11 Gonzaga’s home “upset” of #6 Iowa. Both picked the tourney’s other mild upsets by #9 seeds Purdue, West Virginia and St. John’s, and #10s Marist and Temple.)

Six contestants are tied for third, one game’s worth of points behind Timbrell and Paine, and they include a member of women’s college basketball royalty. Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano, the daughter of UConn’s coach, has 120 points (30-for-32), as do Becky Loy, Nate Evangelista, Michael Watkins, Lisa Velte and Matt Thomsen. Full standings here.

Finally, in the 7th annual NIT Pool, Jeff Morrison grabbed the lead from Charles Fenwick yesterday when Wichita State beat Fenwick’s predicted champion, Virginia Tech. Morrison has 114 out of a possible 162 points; Fenwick and Allan Lewis are tied for second with 107; and there’s a five-way tie for fourth among Matt Thompsen, Larry Caplin, Victoria Wagner, Tim Wiseman and Michael Greiner, with 104 points each. Full standings here; scenarios here.

*    *    *    *    *

Back to the men’s pool, where the new tournament format and pool rules have created an intriguing subplot in regard to Ken Stern’s lead. He is winning thanks, in part, to his pre-First Four prediction of a USC run to the Sweet Sixteen, with VCU filling the role of the Trojans. This very scenario was spelled out a week ago, as a hypothetical, and now it’s come true:

Continue reading »

3 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

What a great opening four days. Yeah, "my" teams (USC, Gonzaga and Notre Dame) are all gone, but still, a lot to love so far, and a lot to look forward to.

I’ll update the pools tomorrow. Must sleep now. Meanwhile, here’s my "As-You-Go" Giant Bracket (larger version here; webcam and explanation here):

4 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

photo 2

I know I’ve been lax with pool updates so far this year, due partly to work and family obligations, and partly to my attendance at the Denver games Thursday and Saturday. But anyway, here is where things stand at the moment:

Men’s pool: Through the first two Sunday games, Ben Sloniker leads with 176 out of a possible 210 points — but one of the games he got wrong was very damaging, as Pitt was his national champion. Dane Lindberg, who has Butler as his national champ, is second with 169 points. Alec Taylor, Mark Jordon and Ken Stern are third, fourth and fifth with 168, 166 and 165 points, respectively.

Women’s pool: Through 24 of the 32 first-round games, nobody’s perfect. (Five were 16-0 after Day 1: Becky Loy, Nate Evangelista, Lisa Velte, Rachel Wetherill and Ian Auzenne.) Now, five contestants — Loy, Evangelista, Velte, Scott Paine and Peter Timbrell — are tied with 92 of a possible 96 points, meaning they’ve gotten just one game wrong. Among those lurking just behind the leaders, with 88 points, is Jenna Stigliano, daughter of UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

NIT pool: Through the end of the weekend’s games, Charles Fenwick leads with 107 points out of a possible 162. Larry Caplin, Victoria Wagner and Jeff Morrison are tied for second with 104 points.

4 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Six “below the Red Line” mid-majors — seven if you count Gonzaga — survived the first two days (or three days, in VCU’s case) of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Here’s my #GiantBracket:

Giant Bracket

Meanwhile, in the 16th annual Living Room Times pool, Greg Shtraks of Montclair, New Jersey leads the LRT men’s NCAA pool with 124 points out of a possible 140, reflecting a perfect “First Four” and a 28-4 record in the first round.

Mark Jordon of Goshen, New York and Andrew Hunter of Columbia, Missouri are tied for second with 117 points. President Barack Obama, if he had entered the pool, would be in fourth place with 116 — and that’s only because he didn’t make “First Four” picks. Obama’s 29-3 record in the first round is better than anyone in the pool.

Keith DeMonstoy, Sean Sullivan, Jeffrey Kwit, and two-time past champion Jenn Castelhano are tied for fourth with 113 points. Complete standings here.

I, incidentally, am tied for 27th place with 106 points. Loyette has 91 points; Becky has 87; the cats have 77; and DU Bally has 34. Interestingly, the last-place human contestant, just above Travis Mason-Bushman’s FYNNAL FOUR BALLZ and my DU Bally, is ESPN sports columnist Arash Markazi. His bracket went just 17-15 in the first round.

Of course, my “As-You-Go Bracket” remains perfect, as you can see at the top of this post. :) Tomorrow, I’m back to the Pepsi Center for Morehead-RIchmond and BYU-Gonzaga!!!

1 Comment  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

What a day at the Pepsi Center. Wow.

IMG_7521

More later. Must sleep.

P.S. Here are the pool standings. Mark Jordon went 15-1 and leads the 16th annual Living Room Times men’s NCAA pool with 69 points out of a possible 76 (he earned 60 points yesterday, on top of his 9 from the First Four). David Mathues is second with 68 points (14-2 Thursday for 56 points, plus a perfect 12 from the First Four). Benjamin Sloniker is next with 65 points.

2 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

Tom Greca 1

The pools are, as always, free to enter. Winners will get a t-shirt*, and eternal glory. Complete rules here. Entry links below. Good luck!

Men’s NCAA Tournament Pool:
Current standings here.
Scoring system: 3-4-7-10-16-24-33.

Women’s NCAA Tournament Pool:
Current standings here.
Scoring system: 4-7-11-17-24-33.

NIT Pool:
Current standings here.
Scoring system: 7-10-15-20-25.

*As I’ve mentioned before, I’m two years behind on championship t-shirts. :) Hoping to get caught up this week, and actually be on the ball with that this year!

P.S. As you can see, based on feedback on my logo thread, as well as my own judgment, I decided to go with one of Tom Greca’s logos. Many thanks, though, to Bonnie Stone’s class at Newington High School for all of their submissions! One of the students’ logos remains the pool’s “Facebook logo,” and whoever wins this year’s t-shirts can select one of the “alternative” logos for their shirt, if they like.

[Originally posted on March 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM; bumped to top. -ed.]

25 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball

By Brendan Loy

If there’s one region on my bracket that’s giving me major headaches right now, it’s the Southeast. The region has some incredibly weak top seeds (#1 Pitt, which always seems to be a paper tiger come tournament time; #2 Florida, grossly overseeded for no discernible reason; and #3 BYU, struggling without Brandon Davies) and five of the strongest mid-majors in the entire tournament (#8 Butler, #9 Old Dominion, #11 Gonzaga, #12 Utah State and #13 Belmont), the latter two just criminally underseeded (and forced to potentially face each other in a #12 vs. #13, mid-on-mid-violence Round of 32 game). Combined, there’s a 17.1% chance that one of those five mid-major teams will reach the Final Four, according to Ken Pomeroy’s log5 stats, with the #12 Aggies (6.4%), #13 Bruins (4.6%) and #11 Zags (3.9%) actually having the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-best odds in the region, respectively, trailing only the top 4 seeds. All of which adds up to, for me, the following hot mess of a nonsensical, pie-in-the-sky, NOT-GONNA-HAPPEN bracket:

As I tweeted with that photo, “Is there a support group for this? #OfficePoolSuicide #CantHelpMyself.”

Then again, it doesn’t exactly help dissuade me from this lunacy when mainstream sports media guys are basically saying, yeah, that could totally happen:

I’m really not sure what to do with my bracket here. Do I pick one of the mid-majors, most likely Belmont, to reach the Final Four? Do I bank on another round of Tom Izzo Magic? (Pomeroy’s stats answer that one with a resounding “no.”) Do I go with dangerous, possibly-peaking-at-the-right-time Kansas State — but: USU! — or perhaps St. John’s or (gulp) UCLA? Or do I pick some early upsets, then bank on one of the surviving favorites to roll through the shattered bracket that’s left after a wild first weekend? But if the latter, which favorite? I have zero faith in either Pittsburgh or Florida, and I’m highly skeptical of BYU without Davies. But then, I (like most of the rest of the country) didn’t have much faith in Duke last year, and yet they successfully navigated a highly favorable bracket to reach the Final Four, then knocked off WVU and Butler to win the whole thing, despite having pretty clearly not even deserved to be a #1 seed in the first place! There are plenty of similar examples of imperfect high seeds taking advantage of upset-filled brackets, and this could well be another. Will paper-tiger Pitt or overseeded Florida or undermanned/oversexed* BYU be “this year’s Duke”? Ugh. I don’t know. I’ll be wrestling with this one for the next 24 hours, I think.

*by BYU standards

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By Brendan Loy

It’s become clear to me that most pool administrators are handling this newfangled “First Four” different than me, and concerns have been expressed about the Tuesday deadline, and the uncertainties created by those Tuesday & Wednesday games. As such, I’ve had a change of heart about the pool deadline and rules. I’ve decided to utilize the ingenious “Option 3″ described here. Basically, it will work like this…

Well, wait. First things first. If what follows below makes your head spin, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, JUST IGNORE IT AND ENTER THE POOL NOW. :) Treat 4:30 PM MST Tuesday as the deadline, and pay no attention to all this mumbo-jumbo.

Having said that, here’s the new procedure…

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By Brendan Loy

WHEEE!!!! It’s College Basketball Christmas!!

Here’s my annual Bubble Scoresheet, to be marked up and followed-along-with during the Selection Show, to give a clearer idea of how many bubble spots are left. I show 13 teams competing for 6 spots (although really, VCU, Missouri State and Harvard could just as easily be in the “very likely out” category — I’d be pleasantly shocked if any of them get in).

I won’t be “liveblogging” the Selection Show as such, but will doubtless be live-tweeting up a storm, which you can see at right.

And of course, stay tuned for my pools, which will start later tonight (a few hours after the girls’ bedtimes, most likely).

P.S. In case you missed it yesterday…

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By Brendan Loy

Before it gets completely lost and forgotten in the impending insanity of Selection Sunday, the Big Dance and the Living Room Times NCAA & NIT Pools, here’s the archive of my entire liveblog (via Twitter) of the Big Sky championship game Wednesday night. It was a truly epic experience — I was sitting just a few feet in front of the student section all night — that ended with Northern Colorado winning its first ever NCAA autobid, and me rushing the court with the UNC students.

Of all the basketball liveblogs I’ve done this season, this is by far the one I’m most proud of. The whole thing, with inline pictures and embedded videos, is after the jump.

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