TOBY ELIMINATED, RUBIN GAINS IN WOMEN’S POOL;
VALE WON’T BREAK ALL-POOLS POINTS RECORD
Toby Zak, the only non-human contestant in The Living Room Times’s NCAA pools, was mathematically eliminated from winning the women’s pool when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost this afternoon. This occurred even as Toby’s owner, Becky Zak, was on a plane flying back to Los Angeles from Notre Dame, where she visited the graduate school over the weekend.
#2-seed Purdue defeated #11 Notre Dame, 66-47. Toby had picked the #3 Kansas State Wildcats, who were eliminated by Notre Dame last week, but she needed Purdue to lose today so that other contestants in the pool would not gain points.
Toby, a domestic shorthair cat, made her picks by choosing teams with cat nicknames to win, and teams with dog nicknames to lose. When two cat teams or two dog teams were slated to play each other, Toby picked the higher seed. When neither cats nor dogs were involved in a game, Becky helped Toby make a decision about who to pick. (Becky described this as a “collective effort.” Toby was heard to comment agreeably, “Meow.”)
Prior to the Purdue-Notre Dame game, a computer analysis showed that Toby would win the pool in just one of 1,024 remaining tournament scenarios. That scenario involved, among other things, a Notre Dame victory today.
Toby was reportedly sleeping on Becky’s chair during Notre Dame’s loss. Informed of her elimination, Toby reportedly stood up briefly, stretched, yawned, and then resumed sleeping.
Depending on how the remainder of the tournament goes, Toby, presently in 33rd, could finish as high as third place. If nothing else, however, she can take solace in her thorough drubbing of Saddam Hussein.
The ten contestants still alive in the women’s pool, all human, are Matt Thomsen, Richard Simon, Rick Boeckler, Josh Rubin, Brian Newbold, Larry Caplin, Sara Hamilton, Pat Caplin, James Peters, and Kim Stone.
In addition to eliminating Toby, Purdue’s win boosted Rubin from third place into second, just four points behind leader Thomsen, because both Thomsen and the previous second-place contestant, Boeckler, had picked Kansas State, whereas Rubin correctly picked the Boilermakers.
Rubin now also has the statistical edge in terms of his probability of winning the pool. He would win in 125 of the remaining 512 scenarios, or 24.4 percent; Thomsen would win in 113, or 22.1 percent.
On the other side of the Living Room Times pool coin, men’s winner Justin Vale may yet break the record for most points in a men’s pool, but he won’t surpass the all-time record for points in any Living Room Times pool — 409, set by Jenn Castelhano in last year’s women’s pool. Syracuse’s 63-47 victory over Oklahoma this afternoon guaranteed that. Vale had picked the Sooners; his maximum possible point total is down from 412 to 397.
Vale, who presently has 317 points, could still break the men’s pool record of 354 points, set by Lou Ruggiero in 1996. He picked Texas to reach the Final Four (worth 15 points if it happens), Kansas and Texas to play in the title game (20 points each), and Kansas to win the championship (25 points).