The Tennessee Lady Vols defeated two Indiana schools on their road to the Final Four, but their national championship means victory for at least one Hoosier: newly crowned Living Room Times women’s pool champion Jeff Freeze.
Freeze, a resident of Portage, Indiana and an alumnus of Indiana, Michigan State and Notre Dame — the latter having been one of Tennessee’s tournament victims, along with Purdue — jumped from eighth to first place tonight on account of the Lady Vols’ 64-48 win over Stanford tonight. He finishes with 381 out of a possible 477 points, good enough for a two-point win over Joseph Hiegel in the 11th annual Times women’s pool.
Like men’s pool winner Alex Whitfield, Freeze has been an Irish Trojan reader since Hurricane Katrina. (Hiegel, on the other hand, only discovered the site earlier this month, by Googling “NIT prediction pool.”)
Hiegel, of Greenfield, Wisconsin, finishes second with 379 points. F.X. McGahee of Aiken, South Carolina is third with 374 points, followed by Dan Port of Los Angeles, in fourth with 372. Port wins the prize for best two-tournament performance, as he finished second in the men’s pool.
Port is also one of just three contestants to correctly predict the national champions in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The others are Chris Aemisegger (51st in the women’s pool, 27th in the men’s) and “Loyette” Loy (85th, 234th).
Ken Stern of Thomaston, Maine — who started the night in first place, but had no chance of winning because his national champion had already been eliminated and he was bound to be leapfrogged — finishes fifth with 362 points. Jeff Vaca, a Cal alum and Elk Grove, California resident who would have won the pool if Stanford had beaten Tennessee tonight, instead finishes sixth with 362 points.
Complete standings here and after the jump.
If the Tennessee Lady Vols, led by Candace Parker, beat the Stanford
Drunken Trees Cardinal, led by Candice Wiggins, in tonight’s title showdown, then Jeff Freeze, a 1992 Indiana alum, will win the 11th annual Times women’s pool. If Stanford prevails, then Jeff Vaca, a 1982 Cal alum, will be the pool champion.
The game starts at 8:30 PM EST on ESPN. Gamecast here.
P.S. If Tennessee wins, there will be three contestants in my pools who correctly predicted both the men’s and women’s champions: Chris Aemisegger, Dan Port, and… Loyette! Heh. (If Stanford wins, there will be no such contestants.)
UPDATE: It’s 37-29 Tennessee at halftime.
UPDATE 2: The Lady Vols win!
The final score was 64-48. I guess they used up all the drama in their Final Four win over LSU:
…for this seat?
Rock, Chalk, Ripoff!
UPDATE: Some commenters suggest the picture may be Rock, Chalk, Photoshopped.
UPDATE 2: Sports by Brooks, which originally published the image, says the image is Photoshopped, but not in a bad way. SbB says the photo is comprised of of "three images we put together that gives you the lovely panorama from section 330." In other words, it’s Photoshopped, but it’s also legit!
Last night, Kansas won its first national championship since 1988. You know, it occurs to me, there’s another storied national powerhouse that won its last national championship in 1988. Hmm… could the Jayhawks’ return to glory be a good omen for the Irish?
The Leprechaun made the cut!
Pretty decent, by recent years’ standards. But I still object to the trend of cramming together all the buzzer-beaters and other assorted awesome shots in the musical bridge two-thirds of the way through the song. It cheapens each highlight to put them back-to-back-to-back like that, and it results in the first two verses feeling stuffed with "filler" — too many shots of mascots, fans, cheerleaders, and slow-mo close-ups of balls and nets and players’ and coaches’ faces, and not enough, you know, basketball. Spread the love!
P.S. Don’t get me wrong, I love the shots of mascots, cheerleaders and the like. But they have a place, and that place is during the intro music and maybe the first verse. Not the later parts of the song, unless they have some actual significance to the storyline of the tournament (like the shot of Stephen Curry’s mom). For instance, the clip at the 1:23 mark of some guy dancing with the mascot of George Mason — a team that was unceremoniously bounced in the first round — is totally out of place. How about putting a basketball highlight there? (Although, that said, I have no objection to the shot of the USC Song Girls immediately afterward… hehe.)
And did I miss it, or is CDR’s unforgettably awesome dunk over Kevin Love not in the highlight reel? WTF?? I could forgive the absence of Dorsey’s bank-shot 3, since CBS obviously has limited time to finish editing the thing, but the absence of that Final Four highlight is inexcusable! Clearly, the song was mixed by a UCLA fan who wanted to spare Kevin Love’s fragile emotions. ;)
And yes, I realize I think about this way too hard. :)
P.P.S. One last thing. What is it with Jim Nantz and his lame-o canned lines, so painfully obviously prepared in advance, announcing each team’s championship? "Rock, Chalk, Championship" was actually not as bad as some of them, like "Leave it to Cleaves" (Michigan State 2000), "The ‘Meka of college basketball is in Storrs, Connecticut" (UConn 2004, a punny reference to Emeka Okafor), "It started in March, ended in April, and belonged to May" (North Carolina 2005, an even punnier reference to Sean May), and of course, the worst of all, from 1999:
Folks, you gotta believe, because just when people say you can’t, you can, and UConn has won the national championship!
Ugh. Would Nantz-Packer please just retire already?
Just call it the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
Kansas won the national championship in thrilling fashion Monday night, and Alex Whitfield — a Nebraska fan who goes by the blog nickname “CORNHUSKERS 94 95 97″ — rode the Jayhawks’ coattails to win the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by the UCLA Bruins.
Whitfield, a Duke alum and resident of Brooklyn, New York, finished with 392 out of a possible 477 points, the second-highest total in Times men’s pool history behind Arash Markazi’s 409 points last year. Whitfield correctly predicted the entire Final Four, both finalists, and the champion. (Here’s his bracket.)
It almost wasn’t to be for Whitfield. Kansas trailed by 9 points with 2:12 left, and until Mario Chalmers’s instant-classic three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, it looked like Amy Greca would join her husband Tom as the first pair of spouses to each own a Times pool championship. (Tom Greca won the 2002 men’s pool.) Instead, Amy Greca finished sixth in the final standings.
Dan Port, a 2004 USC alum, finished second with 379 points. N.C. State alum and Ph.D. student Chuck Wessell was third with 369 points. Ken Inadomi had 360 points to finish fourth. Rounding out the Top 5 — all of whom picked Kansas — is Virginia student Logan Pugh with 355 points.
Hannah McLaughlin of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who finished 12th, is the only contestant other than Whitfield who got the entire Final Four, both finalists and the champion correct. Port and Pugh got both finalists and the champion right, plus three of the Final Four.
Complete standings here and after the jump.
20 minutes till One Shining Moment!
P.S. If this is true, it would be the greatest “shining moment” of them all: “Nantz seemed to go out of his way to mention PackerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 34th-straight Final Four broadcast. It does seem like this could be his last.” More here.
UPDATE: OVERTIME!!! Memphis couldn’t hit its free throws down the stretch (missing 4 of its last 5), opening the door for Kansas to tie it on an AWESOME three-point shot with 2.1 seconds left by Mario Chalmers. The Jayhawks finished regulation on a 12-3 run. And now the Tigers have to play OT without Joey Dorsey, who has fouled out.
UPDATE 2: Rock, Choke, Tigers?? Memphis has totally collapsed here. In addition to the free-throw woes, they haven’t scored a field goal in over 5 minutes, and it’s now 69-63 Kansas with 2:29 left. Poor Jay. He must be losing his mind right now. The Tigers had a national championship within their grasp — I was already working on the “Amy Greca wins the pool” write-up — and they let it slip away. Can they get it back?
UPDATE 3: Kansas wins!
Sorry, Jay. :(
P.S. Here’s what my current list of TypePad blog posts looks like. The little pencil icon indicates a draft post.
Amy Greca wins! Dewey Defeats Truman! Heh.
P.P.S. I understand John Calipari wants to praise his players and blame himself, but um, how can he say “they did everything they could” when they missed 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute, any one of which would have been enough to win the game?
P.P.P.S. Let it be known that, after an incredibly weak start, I actually won the Loy Household Sub-Pool, thanks in large part to my correct prediction that Kansas would win the championship. (I believe that’s the first time I’ve correctly picked the national champ since UConn won it all in ‘99.) The final standings were:
Toby, Sasha & Butter 197
Yes, I’m bragging about doing better than my three-month-old daughter, my cats and my dog. :) Hey, when you finish tied for 122nd place in the overall pool, this is what you’re reduced to!
If we expand the field a bit, to include all immediate family, we get:
Toby, Sasha & Butter 197
Congrats to Ginny! And to Casey! :)
It’s a battle of the sexes tonight in the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by the UCLA Bruins, as Alex Whitfield, a lifelong Nebraska fan who goes by the blog nickname "CORNHUSKERS 94 95 97," goes head-to-head with Amy Greca, a Newington, Connecticut resident who professes to "know absolutely nothing about basketball."
If Kansas wins the national championship, Whitfield will win the pool, rewarding his faith in the Big 12’s best team. If Memphis prevails, Greca will win; the bracket that she put together "in probably less than 2 minutes" will be the best of the pool’s 245 entries.
Whitfield lives in Brooklyn, New York, is a Duke alum, and has been an Irish Trojan blog reader since Hurricane Katrina. Greca, originally of Farmington, Connecticut, is married to Tom Greca, a high-school classmate of pool administrator Brendan Loy and the designer of this year’s pool logo. Tom Greca has been competing in Times pools since their inception, and he won the seventh annual men’s pool in 2002; if Memphis wins tonight, the Grecas would be the first-ever husband & wife pair to each win a Times pool championship.
Rachel Wetherill was 0.7 seconds away from clinching victory in the 11th annual Living Room Times women’s basketball pool — and putting a UCLA stamp on both of this year’s NCAA pools.
Instead, the Bruin alum was mathematically eliminated when Tennessee’s Alexis Hornbuckle hit a putback with 0.7 ticks left on the clock, knocking out Wetherill’s predicted national champion, LSU. That sets up a "Battle of the Jeffs" in the pool, dependent on the result of Tuesday’s title game between Tennessee and Stanford.
Jeff Vaca, a 1982 Cal alum who now lives in Elk Grove, California, will win the pool if his alma mater’s archrival, Stanford, wins the championship. Jeff Freeze, a 1992 Indiana alum who now lives in Portage, Indiana, will win the pool if Tennessee repeats as champs.
The women’s Final Four is underway, and UConn-Stanford is a good game early. The nightcap will be Tennessee-LSU. Although this Final Four isn’t as “chalky” as the men’s, it’s just as stacked with talent: each team in tonight’s semifinals has one of the five AP first-team All-Americans (Maya Moore, Candice Wiggins, Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles, respectively).
I’m rooting for the Huskies and Lady Vols, so we can see the Geno vs. Pat grudge match in the title game — in which, of course, I’ll be rooting like crazy for UConn and its AP Coach of the Year. :)
UPDATE: There will be no dream matchup — or clash of “Evil Empires,” depending on your perspective — in the national title game. Stanford wins, 82-73. :(
The Cardinal’s victory eliminates Joseph Hiegel, Kevin Pilz, Kevin Hauschulz, Josh Krause and Gerry deSimas from any chance of winning my women’s pool.
If LSU beats Tennessee tonight, UCLA alum Rachel Wetherill will clinch the pool. If Tennessee wins tonight, it’ll be a battle of the Jeffs in Tuesday’s title game, with Jeff Freeze winning if Tennessee captures the championship and Jeff Vaca winning if Stanford wins. Freeze is a graduate of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Indiana; Vaca is a Cal alum.
Incredibly, after falling behind 40-12 with seven minutes left in the first half (and having Billy Packer declare, “This game is over”), North Carolina has rallied to within eight points of Kansas, 54-46, with 12:16 left in the game. “It looks like panic is setting in” for Kansas, Jim Nantz says.
UPDATE: Now 54-48. UNC is on a 12-0 run, and more broadly, a 36-14 run. “We’ve seen some comebacks, Jim, but I have never seen anything like this,” says Packer. “This would be the mother of all comebacks,” Nantz agrees.
UPDATE 2: After pulling within 4 points at 54-50, North Carolina has gone cold, Kansas is on a 26-11 and 13-0 run, and it’s 80-61 with under two minutes left. What a weird game.
UPDATE 3: Kansas 84, UNC 66, final. So it’s Kansas vs. Memphis for the national title — and Alex Whitfield vs. Amy Greca for the championship of the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by the UCLA Bruins.
Whitfield (a.k.a. “CORNHUSKERS 94 95 97″), a Duke alum and Nebraska grad who lives in Brooklyn, New York, will win the pool if Kansas wins the championship. He is currently in first place with 367 out of a possible 452 points.
Dan Port, a 2004 USC alum, is in second place with 354 points, but he cannot pass Whitfield because they both picked Kansas to win.
Greca, a resident of Newington, Connecticut and wife of the man who designed the pool logo, Newington High School Class of 1999 Tom Greca, is third with 352 points, and will win the pool if Memphis wins the championship.
Rounding out the current Top 10 are Chuck Wessell (344 points), Ryan Morgan (336), Ken Inadomi (335), Liz Janelle (332), Shari Long (332), Chris Mulvey (332) and Logan Pugh (330). Long and Mulvey were eliminated by Kansas’s win — in Long’s case, sparing her an agonizing decision over whether to root for her favorite team, Memphis, or for her own pool prospects (she picked UNC).
Full standings here and after the jump.
P.S. For posterity’s sake, it should be noted that the original title of this post was “Rock, Choke, Jayhawk?”
It looks like the OMG BEST FINAL FOUR EVER is on the verge of turning into a total dud, as Kansas leads North Carolina 33-10 with 8:44 left in the first half. Yikes.
UPDATE: With 7:32 left in the first half, and Kansas leading 38-12, Billy Packer declares, “This game is over.”
UPDATE 2: Wow! UNC rallied within 42-27 just before halftime… though Kansas got a layup at the buzzer to make it 44-27.
Meanwhile, Jay sends along this photo from the first game, of Kevin Love getting pwn3d by Chris Douglas-Roberts:
It’s Memphis 56, UCLA 47 with 10:31 left. As Jay would say, GO TIGERS GO!
UPDATE: Memphis 78, UCLA 63, final. WOO!!! Three straight Final Fours for fUCLA, but no championships. Are the Bruins becoming the Buffalo Bills of college basketball?
Meanwhile, for all the talk about this being OMG The Most Stacked Final Four Ever, that wasn’t exactly an instant classic. Kevin Love was basically a non-factor in the second half, foul trouble killed Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook, and the whole Bruins team went ice-cold down the stretch. All credit to Memphis for forcing fUCLA into those problems, of course, but this wasn’t exactly a memorable clash of titans; the Bruins looked overmatched. It’s like I said: a whole bunch of powerhouse teams advancing to play one another doesn’t guarantee great games, any more than the presence of a Cinderella team guarantees blowouts. That concept is just a silly fallacy.
Also, apparently Memphis can shoot free throws. I almost think John Calipari instructed them to miss on purpose during the Conference USA schedule, just to lull everyone into a false sense of security. :)
P.S. Updated scenarios for who can win the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by, ahem, the UCLA Bruins:
If UNC beats Memphis for title: Shari Long wins
If Memphis beats UNC for title: Chris Mulvey wins
If Kansas beats Memphis for title: Alex Whitfield wins
If Memphis beats Kansas for title: Amy Greca wins
Joseph Hiegel, Robert Dokes, Chuck Wessell and Keith Evans were mathematically eliminated by UCLA’s loss.
Current standings here and after the jump.
If UNC & Memphis win: Title game is Shari Long (UNC) vs. Chris Mulvey (Memphis)
If UNC & UCLA win: Title game is Joseph Hiegel (UNC) vs. Robert Dokes (UCLA)
If Kansas & Memphis win: Title game is Alex Whitfield (Kansas) vs. Amy Greca (Memphis)
If Kansas & UCLA win: Title game is Chuck Wessell (Kansas) vs. Keith Evans (UCLA)