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.