The University of Connecticut is halfway to an unprecedented double-championship.
So is Matt Kagan.
Kagan had already wrapped up the Living Room Times men’s pool championship, clinching when UConn beat Duke on Saturday. But the Huskies’ win Monday gave him an additional 25 points, boosting him to a total of 334 out of a possible 477. That’s enough to tie 2001 champion Jenn Castelhano for the third-highest total in LRT men’s pool history.
Now, Kagan has the opportunity to accomplish what Castelhano could not quite achieve: winning both pools in the same year.
In 2001, Castelhano stayed alive in both pools deep into the tournaments, led both leaderboards at one point, and ended up finishing first in the men’s pool and third in the women’s. She then won the women’s pool in 2002, becoming the first — and, to date, only — two-time champion in LRT history.
It was an impressive showing to say the least, but Kagan could top it in a big way. If UConn gets its dual titles, Kagan too will win a dual championship, finishing as a women’s co-champion — tied with Danny Pilz and Conor Sullivan — if the Huskies beat Tennessee tomorrow. (If Tennessee wins, Scott Loomer will win the women’s pool.)
Getting back to the men’s pool, 25 of the 76 LRT contestants correctly picked the Huskies to win the national championship: Lindsey Green, Ryan McBride, Danny Pilz, Kevin Pilz, Timothy Benson, Matthew Thomsen, Justin Vale, Rosalie Town, Conor Sullivan, Matt Kagan, Ryan Dalidowitz, Kristin Vasil, Madeline Larkin, Kim Stone, Edgar Cardoso, Tom Greca, Luke Thomsen, Tristin Clow, Dennis Chow, Jennifer Persaud, Jenn Castelhano, Robbie Zak, Kevin Hauschulz, James Peters and Brian Newbold.
The final men’s pool Top 12 is as follows:
1. Matt Kagan 334
2. Dennis Chow 331
3. Tom Greca 320
4. Luke Thomsen 313
5. Kristin Vasil 310
6. Ryan Dalidowitz 308
7. Ryan McBride 300
8. Rosalie Town 296
9. Jenn Castelhano 293
10. Ben Eng 291
11. Timothy Benson 290
12. Jennifer Persaud 286
Ten of the top 12 contestants are connected to Newington High School. Kagan, Chow, Greca, McBride, Castelhano, Benson and Persaud are members of the NHS Class of 1999; Vasil graduated from NHS in 2000; Thomsen and Dalidowitz are students there now.
The only non-Newington contestants in the Top 12 are Rosalie Town, a USC Class of 2003 grad, and Ben Eng, a Los Angeles talent-agency assistant. Eng would have won the pool if Duke had beaten UConn on Saturday.
Ginny Zak, who would have won the pool if both Final Four games had gone differently — that is, if Duke and Oklahoma State had won — finished 19th. Paul Zak, who led throughout much of the early rounds, finished 17th. Defending champ Justin Vale came in tied for 15th.
Robbie Zak, the only non-human contestant to correctly pick the champion, nevertheless finished just 59th — but that did put him ahead of 14 human contestants. Then again, it should be no surprise that a dog would do well when the Huskies are the national champs.
Robbie wasn’t the only animal to accomplish something in the pool. Sasha Zak, despite finishing 74th out of 76, was the only contestant to correctly predict the margin of victory in the title game, 9 points. Rosalie Town, Kristy LaPlante and Rachel Wetherill came closest among humans, predicting an 8-point game.
Andrew Long, who finished tied for 37th, nailed the total points scored for the title game: 155. Brendan Loy, Christina Avoletta, Robbie Zak and Toby Zak were all one point off.
UCONN WINS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!
Huskies 82, Yellow Jackets 73!
Why is Georgia Tech fouling, and shooting three-pointers, now? If they had been doing that two minutes ago, that would have made sense. Now they’re just making us wait a few extra minutes for “One Shining Moment.”
UConn 78, Georgia Tech 70 with 28.5 seconds left.
UConn still by 14, less than a minute left.
…but I think Georgia Tech’s coach has done a relatively awful job in this game.
UConn 75, Georgia Tech 61, 1:34 to go.
It’s down to 12. UConn 71, Tech 59, three minutes left.
The Rambling Wreck made up four points in the last minute — if they could keep gaining at that pace, we’d go to overtime.
It would be nice if UConn could score on this possession. Just, you know, to keep the Yellow Jackets from getting any ideas…
Wake me for “One Shining Moment.” :)
But, uh, yeaaaaahhhhh Huskies!!!
UConn by 16 — 71-55 — with 3:53 left.
Now it’s only a 15-point game. UConn 67, Georgia Tech 52, 5:46 to go.
At halftime, CBS announced that the 1983 Houston-N.C. State championship game — “They won it! On the dunk!” — had been voted the most exciting title game in NCAA history.
UConn’s Ben Gordon was born the night that game was played.
This game will not go down as one of the most exciting in history, but Ben Gordon will be a national champion in 8 minutes, 7 seconds.
Huskies 65, Yellow Jackets 47.
Methinks the UConn-Duke semifinal was the “real” championship game.
UConn 60, Georgia Tech 37, 11:50 to go.
15:34 to go.
The biggest blowout in NCAA championship history was UNLV’s 30-point win over Duke, 103-73 in 1990.
If UConn keeps dominating the Rambling Wreck this thoroughly, that record could be in jeopardy.