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Mar 18

Yes, Virginia, there is an NCAA Pool

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm Mountain Time

My NCAA and NIT Pools are being hosted over on The Living Room Tumblr this year.

Direct pool entry links:
bit.ly/LRT2014MensPool
bit.ly/LRT2014WomensPool
bit.ly/LRT2014NITPool

Also, be sure to “like” the pools on Facebook. Updates will be posted on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook — not here.

The NIT Pool deadline is at 5:00 PM Eastern tonight (Tuesday). The Men’s NCAA Pool deadline is 12:15 PM Eastern on Thursday. (No “First Four” in the pool this year.) You have until Saturday morning to enter the Women’s NCAA Pool.

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Feb 24

Looking for a contest? Check my Tumblr

Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm Mountain Time

As you may have noticed, this blog has gone completely dormant over the last year. I’ve been slow in setting up redirects, but if you’re looking for an Oscar or NCAA pool, go to my Tumblr page, “The Living Room Tumblr,” at http://brendanloy.tumblr.com.

I’m not formally shutting this blog down — who knows, maybe I’ll pick it up again at some point — but for now, all my online energies are focused on Tumblr and Twitter.

P.S. If you’re looking for my coverage of Denver or Northern Colorado basketball, you’ll want to visit my Mile High Mids Tumblr instead.

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Apr 09

Boyd, Fort, Binder win LRT Pools

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm Mountain Time

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.

pool-champs

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.

Again rounding out the Top 10: Lauren Fowler (@ndlauren), 198 points; Michael Watkins, 194; Andrew Long, 187; Aaron Woodward, 185; and Andy Hunter, 183. Complete NIT pool standings here.

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Apr 02

Field narrows in NCAA, NIT pools

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 9:15 am Mountain Time

The field of contenders mathematically alive to win has narrowed to 4, 5 and 3, respectively, in the Living Room Times men’s NCAA, women’s NCAA, and NIT pools.

In the men’s pool, we’re down to a “Final Four” of Kevin Pilz, Jimmy Smith, Joe Wright and Mike Boyd. If Syracuse wins the title, Pilz, a Newington, Connecticut resident whose brother Danny won the 2004 women’s pool, will win. If Syracuse reaches the title game but loses it, Smith, of Aurora, CO, the Executive Pastor as Stapleton Fellowship Church, will win. If Michigan reaches the title game but loses, OR beats Louisville for the title, Boyd, of Raleigh, NC, husband of long-time contestants Karen Torgersen, will win. If Michigan beats Wichita State for the title, Wright, a College of Charleston student and Mid-Majority devotee, will win.

In the women’s pool, with six teams alive (and the last two Elite Eight games tonight), we have a “Final Five” in the pool, and a set of fairly straightforward scenarios. Becky Loy, my lovely wife, will win one of my pools for the first time if Notre Dame reaches the championship game. John Curry of Charlotte, NC will win if Duke reaches the title game. Scott Fort of Warrior, AL, champion of the 2007 women’s pool, will win it again this year if UConn wins title, unless Louisville and Duke both win tonight, in which case he ties Bonnie Stone only if UConn beats Cal in title game. Greg Kagan of Rocky Hill, CT, brother of 2004 men’s champ and women’s pool co-champ Matt Kagan, will win if UConn reaches title game but loses, unless Duke wins tonight and UConn’s title-game loss is to Louisville. Finally, Bonnie Stone of Newington and Old Saybrook, CT, my high school newspaper advisor once upon a time, will win if Duke wins tonight and there’s a UConn-Louisville title game, or will tie Scott Fort if Duke wins tonight and UConn beats Cal in the title game.

Lastly, the NIT semifinals are tonight, and the pool could be decided this evening. If Baylor wins the first semifinal over BYU, Cougar fan Aaron Kinser will be eliminated, and the second semifinal, Maryland vs. Iowa, will decide the pool between Jeff Freeze (Maryland) and Ross Binder (Iowa). If BYU wins the first semi, Kinser will stay alive, the pool will be decided in the title game, either Kinser vs. Freeze (if it’s BYU-Maryland) or Kinser vs. Binder (if it’s BYU-Iowa). Freeze, of Burns Harbor, Indiana, won the 2008 women’s NCAA pool and the 2010 Oscar Pool. Binder, of Minneapolis, is an editor of the Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants.

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Mar 27

With both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments both heading to the Sweet 16, and the NIT down to a “Spectacular 7″ with three more quarterfinals tonight to determine the Final Four, let’s review where things stand with my 18th annual NCAA & NIT Pools.

In the men’s pool, Jon Caplin, a sports statistician in Chicago and Becky’s cousin, led for most of the weekend, but relinquished sole possession of first place when his predicted Creighton-over-Duke upset didn’t come true. Eric Morisset, our friend in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood, tied Jon at that point, and they are the co-leaders heading into the second weekend, with 173 points out of a possible 240. Six contenders are just a point behind at 172: Ginny Zak (Becky’s mom), Jeff Freeze (2008 women’s pool champ), Brian Kiolbasa (2005 men’s pool champ), Joshua Hammond, Ken Stern and Elizabeth Styles. Full standings here. Possible outcomes here.

In the women’s pool, Jon Caplin also led after a 15-1 first day, but tumbled to 61st place with a 13-3 second day and an 11-5 second round. In his place, Lauren Fowler (a.k.a. NDLauren) took the lead for a time, then was tied by Joe Hiegel when #6 Delaware upset #3 UNC — and then both she and Hiegel were surprassed by Scott Anglemyer when #6 LSU upset #3 Penn State. Now it’s Angelmyer, of Shawnee, KS, leading with 196 points out of a possible 240; Fowler, of Smyrna, GA, and Hiegel, of Wisconsin, tied for second with 193 points; and the quartet of Greg Kagan, Ken Wagner, Michael Rosenkrantz and Gary Kirby (2007 & 2008 NIT pool champ) a point behind them with 192. Full standings here. Possible outcomes here.

Finally, in the NIT Pool, Steve Vivier of Connecticut (father of Brendan’s best childhood friend Sean Vivier) and Ross Binder of Minneapolis (editor of the Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants) are tied with 162 of a possible 207 points. Randy Styles (winner of the LRT’s Bowl Pick ‘em Contest and Oscar Pool in 2011), Gidal Kaiser and Michael Watkins are close behind with 159 points each. Full standings here. Possible outcomes here. More details information about “what-if scenarios” will be available after tonight’s games.

Again, for more frequent updates, “like” the pools’ Facebook Page. Also, follow me on Twitter.

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Mar 23

Jon Caplin leads men’s & women’s pools

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm Mountain Time

Jon Caplin, a sports statistician from Chicago (and Becky’s cousin), leads both the Living Room Times Men’s NCAA and Women’s NCAA pools after Saturday’s games.

Caplin had a near-perfect first day in the women’s pool, going 15-for-16, missing only #12 Kansas’s upset of #5 Colorado. Meanwhile, he surged to the top of the leaderboard in the men’s pool, buoyed by correct picks of surprise Sweet 16 runs by #6 Arizona and #12 Oregon.

Caplin has 145 of a possible 184 points in the men’s pool. He is followed by his aunt, and Becky’s mom, Ginny Zak, with 137 points; Kristy LaPlante with 135; and Mark Riley, Troy Lake and Alison Vargas with 134 apiece.

In the women’s pool, Caplin has 60 of a possible 64 points. He is followed by a nine-way tie for second place at 56 points, which includes his cousin Becky and his uncle Rick Boeckler, among others.

Meanwhile, in the NIT Pool, Gidal Kaiser, Derek McDonald and Josh Knight are tied for first with 124 of 152 points. (Caplin is tied for 58th in that pool, with 83 points.)

Click for complete men’s standings, women’s standings, and NIT standings.

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Mar 23

3-way tie in Men’s Pool after Round of 64

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 10:20 am Mountain Time

In a first round (no, it’s not the second round) that saw wins by two #9 seeds, a #10 seed, an #11 seed, three #12 seeds, a #13 seed, a #14 seed and a #15 seed, none of the 286 contestants — an all-time record for Living Room Times pool participation — in the 18th annual LRT pool did better than a 25-7 prediction record.

That left Jim Logue, Kristy LaPlante and Matt Tompkins tied atop the pool leaderboard with 100 out of a possible 128 points. Nineteen contestants are tied for fourth place with 96 points and 24-8 records.

Of the major upsets, 33 of 283 contestants picked #13-seed La Salle (or Boise State, if they entered before the First Four); 14 contestants picked #14-seed Harvard; and 11 contestants picked #15-seed Florida Gulf Coast.

More frequent upsets can be found on the pools’ Facebook Page and on Twitter at @brendanloy.

Complete standings here (updating automatically in near-real-time) and after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Mar 17

My 18th annual NCAA & NIT Pools!

Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm Mountain Time

incredibly large lrt logo2It’s that time of year again! Everybody in the pools!

My NCAA and NIT pools are, as always, free to enter. There is no monetary or tangible prize* — just a chance at bragging rights (or, as I like to say, eternal glory).

Complete rules here. Entry links below. (Also, “like” the pools on Facebook!) Good luck!

Men’s NCAA Tournament Pool:
Live Standings
Live Game Scoreboard
Scoring system: 4-7-11-17-24-33.
View everyone’s brackets: PDF file here

Women’s NCAA Tournament Pool:
Live Standings
Live Game Scoreboard
Scoring system: 4-7-11-17-24-33.
View everyone’s brackets: PDF file here

NIT Pool:
Live Standings
Live Game Scoreboard
Scoring system: 7-10-15-20-25.
View everyone’s brackets: PDF file here

**NOTE: In a late rule change, I have decided NOT TO COUNT the Tuesday & Wednesday “First Four” games. If you think a “First Four” participant will win in the Round of 64 or beyond, pick the alternative pair (e.g., “MTSU/StMry” or “BSU/LaSal”) and you will get credit if EITHER team ultimately wins a game(s) in the main bracket. Contestants who entered the pool before this rule change will not be disadvantaged, as their First Four picks will automatically be changed to the alternative pair. That said, if anyone wishes to change their picks, they can, as always, do so, as long as their revised bracket is received by 12:20pm Eastern Time on Thursday. I will assume that the last bracket I receive from you before the deadline is the one you intend to use, and I will delete all earlier brackets.

*I’ve finally decided to give up the ghost on promising t-shirts that I haven’t gotten around to actually buying for the champs in several years (sorry guys). Besides, by eliminating the tangible prize, I believe NCAA athletes are now eligible to compete if they wish — at least, if the rules about such things haven’t changed since 2002, when I was a USC tutor working with student-athletes, and thus had to deal with that issue. (Please consult your compliance department if this applies to you, though. I don’t know what I’m talking about!) [UPDATE: Confirmed by @IrishCompliance!]

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Feb 25

Scott Woods wins 9th annual Oscar pool

Monday, February 25, 2013 at 10:14 am Mountain Time

Squarepic2Scott Woods (@gswoods) of Jonesboro, Arkansas won the 9th annual Living Room Times Oscar Pool last night, taking over first place when Ang Lee won a surprise Best Director award for “Life of Pi,” and clinching victory when “Argo” won Best Picture.

Woods got 72 out of a possible 80 points, missing on just 3 categories: he had Robert De Niro winning Best Supporting Actor (6 points) instead of Christoph Waltz; he picked “Anna Karenina” for Best Production Design (1 point) instead of “Lincoln”; and he had “The Hobbit” winning Best Makeup (1 point) instead of “Les Misérables.” He picked the other 21 Oscars correctly.

But until the Best Director category, Woods was largely “off the radar,” thanks to his error in predicting the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor. That early mistake meant he had to gradually climb the standings, and until Best Director, was still lurking several spots behind the duo who appeared destined for a wire-to-wire win: Vicki Lopez and Chris Aemisegger.

Lopez, a friend of Becky’s & mine from college at USC, and Aemisegger, my 1L law school roommate from Notre Dame, had identical picks, and led the pool all night until Best Director. They would have finished as co-champions if Stephen Spielberg had won for “Lincoln,” as expected, and the rest of the results had gone the same way that they did.

Lopez’s fortunes are nearly always a major pool storyline, as her numerous close calls, near-wins and heartbreaking defeats have become the stuff of LRT Oscar Pool legend over the years. She fell just short of Oscar Pool victory because of plausible but incorrect Best Picture picks in 2005 (she picked The Aviator; Million Dollar Baby won), 2006 (she picked Brokeback Mountain; Crash won) and 2011 (she picked The Social Network; The King’s Speech won). She also finished second in 2010, narrowly losing out because of incorrect screenplay picks.

Lopez was one of the primary participants in the Oscars live chat all night, and her share of the lead was a subject of much discussion. “Hello again, Vicki! Are you feeling lucky this year?” Kristin Farleigh asked her at the beginning of the chat. “I was until my favorite driver won the Daytona 500,” Lopez replied. “Then I knew I had no shot tonight :)”

But, after Lopez got the first four awards right, including Waltz’s upset, Farleigh wrote: “Whoa, Vicki, this may be your year!” I chimed in: “Or Vicki is setting herself up perfectly for another crushing late defeat,” Brandon Minich added: “This is a great start for Vicki. Buuuut we’ve seen this before.”

Six awards in, as she moved out of the pack and into a two-tie with Aemisegger, Lopez wrote, “Ok, keeping my expectations low is getting harder… damn you, Brendan! I swore I was going to not care this year!”

Later in the night, as the major awards neared and Lopez remained atop the leaderboard, Farleigh wrote, “Vicki, I hope you win.” Lopez responded: “Aww, thanks. Now it’ll be super awkward when I don’t.” Becky chimed in, “I hope Vicki wins too. But we all know it won’t happen!” “Thanks, Becky. Always keeping it real,” Lopez replied.

As it turned out, Becky, Brandon and I were right. In 2006, Lopez had too much faith in Ang Lee, the director of that year’s Best Picture upset victim, Brokeback Mountain. This year, she had too little faith in him.

“WHAT!” Lopez exclaimed in the chat when Lee’s victory for Best Director was announced, dropping her from first place to mathematically eliminated. “I’m actually shocked.”

She added: “I hate everyone, just FYI.” (Heh.) But, a few minutes later, she was more philosophical: “I’m fine with not winning. As I said earlier, I knew it wouldn’t happen after the 48 won Daytona.”

Lee’s win also eliminated me, Brendan Loy, from what had briefly looked like a surprisingly plausible path to victory: I needed Emmanuelle Riva to win Best Actress for “Amour,” which some handicappers believed was a plausible upset possibility, and then the as-expected results for the rest of the way. I realized this scenario existed about 30 seconds before Lee’s win was announced, causing my hopes of a first-ever win in my own Oscar Pool to be raised and then almost immediately dashed.

Taking my place on the Emmanuelle Riva bandwagon was defending champion @juleslalaland, who, like Woods, correctly picked Ang Lee’s win, and like me, incorrectly picked Riva. She would have taken the lead from Woods, and ultimately would have won, if Riva had won Best Actress. But instead, the favored Jennifer Lawrence won for “Silver Linings Playbook,” as Woods predicted.

“I think I just won @brendanloy’s Oscar pool!” Woods tweeted moments after Lawrence’s win.

Not quite. The defending champ’s mathematical elimination left Woods with one remaining plausible challenger: Kristin Farleigh winner of the 3rd annual Oscar Pool in 2007 (under her maiden name of Kristin West). Farleigh — who, like Lopez, was participating in the chat all night — needed “Lincoln” to pull the upset and win Best Picture.

“GO LINCOLN!!!!!!!!!!!” Farleigh wrote in the live chat as the show neared its climax. “I can taste it….SO … CLOSE,” she added as First Lady Michelle Obama appeared remotely to present the Best Picture award, stoking speculation that the White House role might presage a “Lincoln” victory. “Best president, Best picture!”

If “Lincoln” had won, the 15-point boost for getting the Best Picture winner right would have vaulted Farleigh from a sixth-place tie to an Oscar Pool win. But favored “Argo” won instead, dropping Farleigh all the way to 35th place, and giving Woods the victory.

“So I lost @brendanloy’s Electoral College contest on a tiebreaker and won the Oscar pool. Bring on March Madness!” Woods tweeted after clinching the title.

Woods, who started following me on Twitter during Hurricane Isaac last August, did indeed lose the 3rd quadrennial LRT Electoral College Contest on a tiebreaker: he had one of six perfect maps in the presidential race, but was one House seat too low in predicting the Democrats’ House gains, the fifth tiebreaker.

In this contest, his 72 points is tied for second-most all time. Jeff Freeze’s 2010 performance remains the gold standard: 74 points out of a possible 80 (though Freeze actually missed twice as many picks, getting six 1-point categories wrong). Also getting 72 points were Lisa Velte in 2008 (eight 1-point categories wrong) and Chris McLemore in 2007 (six 1-point categories and one 2-point category).

Diana Gonzales (@trojanchick99) finished second with 71 points. Like those prior 70+ point winners, and unlike Woods, Gonzales got all of the “big six” categories right, but erred on a number of lesser categories (including a best screenplay Oscar, worth 4 points each).

Aemisegger and Lopez, who had appeared destined for victory until Ang Lee’s upset, finished tied for third with 68 points apiece. Linda Adriaans was fifth with 64 points. Here are the complete final standings:

Continue reading »

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Feb 23

The 85th annual Academy Awards start at 6:30 PM Mountain Time. Becky’s and my live-blog / live-chat / live-snark will officially begin at 6:00 PM (though you can start chatting earlier if you like).

The chat is right here, in this blog post. To participate, you’ll need to log in below via Twitter, Facebook or OpenID.

The chat will also (if Cover It Live’s tweet import function is working properly) auto-import any tweets with the hashtag #LRToscars, as well as any tweets by, or mentioning, Becky or me.)

I will attempt to live-update Oscar Pool results throughout the evening, though you can expect a bit of a lag around the girls’ bedtimes. Also, there will undoubtedly be some sort of OMG SPREADSHEET #PANIC!!! early in the night, rendering initial results unreliable. That’s really just part of the tradition at this point.

Have fun!

P.S. There was talk last year about doing an Oscars Drinking Game this year in the chat. For various reasons, I regret to announce that I will not be organizing or participating in any such revelry. However, if other Oscar live-chatters would like to do a drinking game, and if someone would like to propose rules, I will be happy to post them in the chat. :) Photos of yourself drunkenly watching the Oscars are also encouraged. Bqhatevwr.

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Feb 22

Oscar Pool 2013!

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 1:02 am Mountain Time

I’m pretty late in setting this up (though not quite as late as last year), but I just realized, OMG, the Oscars are on Sunday! … which means it’s time to sign up for the 9th annual Living Room Times Oscar Pool!

The deadline to enter is Sunday at 5:30 PM Mountain Time. Entering the pool is, of course, free. The prize, as per usual: eternal glory!

As always, contestants are urged to enter using their full name, a Twitter handle, or some other readily recognizable partial name or nickname/pseudonym. After all, what’s the point of “bragging rights” if I don’t know who you are?

The scoring system, once again, is 12 points for Best Picture, 9 apiece for the directing and lead acting categories, 6 each for the supporting acting categories, 4 each for the screenplay categories, 2 each for documentary feature, animated feature, foreign film, cinematography and original score, and 1 per award for everything else.

Becky and I will most likely host a “live blog” and “live chat” Sunday night here on the blog. The chat has a reputation of being as entertaining as the actual show, if not moreso… plus, I will post live, updated Oscar Pool results throughout the show. So, bookmark this page and check back on Sunday!

[UPDATE: I created a Facebook Event Page for the Live Chat. Everyone is welcome!]

Anyway, get in the pool!!!

P.S. Some Oscar-prediction resources:
Roger Ebert’s predictions (major categories only)
NYT Carpetbagger predictions (major categories only)
Nate Silver’s predictions (major categories only)
Huffington Post Oscar Predictions
Doc’s Sports Oscars odds
EasyOdds Oscars betting
GoldDerby summary of experts’ predictions

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Feb 05

Last Man Live

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm Mountain Time

You might recall Kyle Whelliston’s ridiculous game of Super Bowl Knowledge Avoidance, “Last Man” (or #lastman), from 2011 and 2012. The object of the game is to go as long as possible without knowing who won the Super Bowl. The purpose of the game is… uh… well, for a certain breed of iconoclasts like Whelliston and some of his followers, it’s an anti-football thing, or an anti-sportz-media thing, or a general act of rebellion or conscientious objection against some aspect(s) the culture at large. For others, it’s just a goofy and nerdy thing to try and do — a personal challenge of an unusual kind, just for the heck of it.

Anyway, this year, I decided to try it for the first time.

#LastMan
Above: I squint at Gmail yesterday, trying to find a specific piece of information via search without accidentally seeing any e-mails about the Super Bowl. (I succeeded.)

I definitely fall into the second category mentioned above: people doing this just for nerdy kicks. As you know, I like football — college more than pros, but the pros are fine too, and I had watched the Super Bowl every year since Wide Right in 1990 (sorry, Becky & other Buffalonians). This year, though, I really couldn’t care less about the particular teams playing in the Super Bowl, so I decided, why not?

In retrospect, I sort of wish I hadn’t picked a year where there was an epic power blackout in the middle of the game (yes, I know about that) for my inaugural attempt at #lastman. I have also picked up hints that it was perhaps a really good game, or at least that some other memorable stuff (aside from the blackout) happened. I sense the whiff of a comeback, maybe, though I’m not sure. I know it was one of the most-watched of all time. But oh well.

Anyway, I’m in the midst of playing #lastman now: 41 hours, 46 minutes without “The Knowledge,” and counting.

#LastMan
Above: The Knowledge, in the form of a Denver Post in the break room, narrowly avoided yesterday and then photographed blindly from across the room.

I am one of six known players still alive in the game. The others are Kyle himself (though he’s about to leave the country, disqualifying him), Sameer Ohri, CNBC analyst John Carney, First Things intern Tristyn Bloom, and the fiancée (name unknown) of defending champ J. Scott Fitzwater. (Scott, for his part, still doesn’t know who won last year’s Super Bowl, but was eliminated early this year).

[WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: We're down to 3 known players: Bloom, Fitzwater's fiancée, and me. Kyle left for Canada, violating Rule Two; Ohri suffered death by Twitter mention (more details); Carney, death by CNBC news meeting. Technically this means I am now the last man standing, and Kyle says women can't play, but I say screw that. Title IX! Equal rights! Female sports fans should be able to complete in #lastman.

Meanwhile, Business Insider published an article about #lastman, in which I am extensively quoted. (The author, Joe Weisenthal a.k.a. @TheStalwart -- profiled here by the New York Times Magazine -- pretty much quoted my rambling, run-on, stream-of-consciousness verbal sentences verbatim. Heh. Yes, that's how I really talk.)

As I joked on Twitter:


I'm trolling Kyle a bit. See here and here for some context.

Also, I couldn't resist a few Lord of the Rings-themed #lastman tweets:

Last but not least, I wanted to relate a conversation with Loyette, 5, who has a kindergarten classmate who went to the Super Bowl. First, this: "Daddy, do you want to know who won?" "No." "Why not?" "Well, I'm playing this game where a bunch of people are trying to be the last person to know who won." "Well, Daddy, I hope you win, so you get the gold medal." Aww. Then, a few minutes later, this discussion. Heh. Note how Becky deftly changes the subject to princesses.]

Below, two windows (the first archived, the second live) which together contain all my tweets and replies thereto, as well as all tweets to and from @findthelastman, the account that’s tracking the game (and is my primary source of information about the outside world at the moment). THESE WINDOWS ARE NOT SAFE FOR #LASTMAN PLAYERS, as they are believed to contain #TheKnowledge. I will not be looking at them. Nor will I be looking at comments on this blog post, nor Twitter mentions, nor most other electronic connections to the human race, until I’ve learned The Knowledge and thus lost the game.

LATE WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: I now Know. I have The Knowledge. My #lastman run went for 2 days, 13 hours and 54 minutes.

Here’s how I found out.

FWIW, I’m not mad. I was about ready to be done. I just wanted to lose interestingly, which this qualifies as. Besides:

Image of the #Knowledge-imparting e-mail after the jump (WARNING: contains The Knowledge).

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Jan 07

Ryan Morgan wins 8th Pick ‘em Contest

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 9:12 am Mountain Time

373027bRyan Morgan, a.k.a. @rpm002, a Wisconsin fan and 2006 Drake alum, clinched victory in the 8th annual Living Room Times Bowl Pick ‘em Contest when Arkansas State beat Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl last night.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s Notre Dame-Alabama BCS championship game, Morgan will finish tied in points with Sam Mann (@mannsg28), and will defeat Mann on the first tiebreaker: “Total number of games picked correctly (regardless of how many points each game is worth).” Morgan and Mann both presently have 41 points out of a possible 56, but Morgan’s win-loss record is 26-8 while Mann’s is 24-10.

Both contestants picked Alabama tonight, and the closest Notre Dame pickers are too far behind to catch them. Morgan and Mann will thus finish tied for first place with either 41 points or 45 points, and Morgan will win the tiebreaker regardless of the ND-Bama outcome.

The championship game will determine how the rest of the leaderboard looks, however. Presently, it looks like this: Russ Caplin is one point behind the leaders with 40 points, Steven Smith is next with 39, followed by Stephen Peroz, Zach Bloxham and Mike Wiser, all with 38 points but with records of 24-10, 23-11 and 22-12, respectively. Rounding out the Top 10, with 37 points apiece, are Nathan Wurtzel and Scotty Stout (both 22-12) and Paul Zak (21-13). The entire Top 10 picked Alabama, so if the Crimson Tide win, the order will remain the same, with everyone having 4 additional points.

However, if Notre Dame wins, the final Top 10 will look like this instead: Morgan first and Mann second with 41 points each, and Caplin next with 40, but then Andy Sorensen and Ross Lancaster (22-13) and Rachel Dulitz (21-14) joining the Top 6 with 40 points each. Defending champ Nyghtewynd (23-12) and Rick Boeckler (22-13) would be 7th and 8th, respectively, with 39 points, ahead of Smith (39 pts, 22-11) and Peroz (38 pts, 24-9).

Also finishing with 38 points if the Irish win, but finishing below Peroz on tiebreakers, would be Brendan Loy (11th), Bloxham (12th), Alison Vargas (13th), Mike Wiser (14th), Matt Wiser and Jeff Freeze (T-15th), Mike Brown and Derek McDonald (T-17th). Double Domer Lisa Velte would finish 19th with 37 points, as Wurtzel and Stout tumble from an 8th-place tie to a 20th-place tie.

GO IRISH!!! :)

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Jan 06

GoDaddy.com Bowl to Decide Pick ‘em Contest

Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 11:10 am Mountain Time

Tonight’s GoDaddy.com Bowl between Sun Belt champion Arkansas State and MAC runner-up Kent State will decide the winner of the 8th annual Living Room Times Bowl Pick ‘em Contest — regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s BCS national championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama.

If Kent State wins, Sam Mann (@mannsg28) will win the LRT contest. If Arkansas State wins, Ryan Morgan (@rpm002) will prevail by tying Mann in points and winning on a tiebreaker.

Although the GoDaddy Bowl is worth just 1 point, versus the national title game’s 4 points, the latter is irrelevant to the contest’s outcome because everyone within striking distance of the leaders picked Alabama. The highest-ranked Notre Dame pickers are Andy Sorensen and Rachel Dulitz, both 5 points behind current leader Mann. Dulitz, Sorensen and Mann all picked Kent State tonight, so the closest Dulitz and Sorensen can get to first place is 1 point behind.

Dulitz had a chance to win until last night, but she needed Pittsburgh to best Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl to stay alive. Mississippi’s win mathematically eliminated Dulitz, and made tonight’s bowl the de facto championship game of the Pick ‘em Contest.

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Jan 01

Free Fallin’

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:50 am Mountain Time

Happy New Year!

(Video of the 1st and 2nd annual Bally Drops.)

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