Day 8 — No More Survivors

I’m headed to a stereotypical LA brunch, but I just want to say that Bill Self and Kansas have been a #1 seed 8 times…and only made the Final Four once in those campaigns. That is a pretty ridiculous run of underachievement, and doesn’t get discussed nearly as much as it should.


Well, the Survivor Pool is over! Congrats to MURPHYBRO, who adds another title to his 2015 crown by riding the Oregon upset over Kansas to a win. Pretty impressive to win 2 times in 3 years — very well done. Last year’s champ, LIMPBIZKIT, takes home 2nd. Really impressive work by both. Can’t wait to see the 2018 showdown. Final standings:



The Oregon upset knocked a few entries out of the running, but those left are facing really difficult choices between letting teams that have already earned big points keep going or banking those and hoping others crap out. Your standings:

UPDATE (247PM) — Only two banks today.

Threezus of Nazareth — South Carolina

JRod1 — Kentucky


Day 7: Finally!

We finally got a classic buzzer beater! We finally got one! And I missed it…I finally took a break from watching every single game to hit up Golden Road Brewery in Atwater Village — and missed the whole Wisco/Florida finish AND the UCLA/Kentucky showdown.

That finish was karma for Wisconsin sinking last year’s game winner on a blatant travel against Xavier.

So many pros on the floor for Kentucky/UCLA. Remember what I told you about ‘when in doubt, pick coaches?’ Calipari > Alford.

Every year I talk myself in to thinking North Carolina is a bunch of overrated athletes that aren’t a ‘team’. The last few years, I’ve been very wrong.

I’m taking Xavier over Gonzaga today.

Can’t remember if I mentioned it, but Xavier beating Arizona was finally a game where a team won after doing the ‘not touching the ball thing’. Amazing.


Updates: No changes, other than everybody survived with Carolina. Today, though, past picks mean everyone can’t pick the same team. Standings:

UPDATE (515PM CST) — Welp, here we go! LIMPBIZKIT and JEFFCMPBLL2 are on Kansas, MURPHYBRO-3 is on Gonzaga and MIKESCOLA is on Xavier. So we’ll have a max of 3 left after today, and if Oregon knocks off Kansas, the pool will be over.

Leader LIMPBIZKIT is in great shape, but the pool is still going tomorrow, he’ll have to choose between Kentucky and South Carolina: two underdogs. All three other players still have Florida in play, as well as Kentucky and South Carolina, so if chalk holds today, we’ll see how LIMPBIZKIT plays it tomorrow.


Very interesting day, and a ton of people plummeted in the standings by riding UCLA and losing points. On the other hand, Threezus of Nazareth made a big jump snagging 14 more points with South Carolina.

A few entrants have been mathematically eliminated — HereComestheGeneral!, Scoops and TheFullMonte, who rode too close to the sun, and ends up with 0 points. I’m very curious to see today how people play with Gonzaga, who is a big favorite but can only get 6 points by beating Xavier.

UPDATE (516PM CDT) — Only two banks today:

JRod1 — Xavier

Threezus — Oregon

If Oregon beats Kansas, Wingus, MarkLyons and Neddington are all done. If Gonzaga loses to Xavier, MatthewGolden1, Golden Clones and JRod1 are all toast.

Day 6: Everything Upside Down


Every Survivor Pool has one day that features a mass wipeout that totally changes the complexion of the pool. Sometimes it’s early. Sometimes, late. 2017’s was yesterday.

The day’s big favorite, Arizona, was upended by sneaky good program, Xavier — who is nowhere near an 11-seed with Trevon Bluiett playing like this, and 7 picks went down with them. Earlier in the evening, 7-seed Michigan blew a late three point lead to Oregon and took 5 aggressive players with them. Still standing: four players, three of whom will make the money. It’ll be tough to catch LIMPBIZKIT, but as yesterday showed, nothing can be taken for granted.

Side note: Limp Bizkit won this pool last year under the player name CLEVELAND OH, and is seeking the exceedingly rare Survivor Pool back to back. Meanwhile, MURPHYBRO-3 was the 2015 champ, riding Wisconsin’s Final Four upset of Kentucky to crown. So we’ve got our last two champs among this year’s Final Four. Told you this tournament was chalky.

UPDATE (618PM CDT) — Everyone is on North Carolina. If Butler wins tonight, LIMPBIZKIT wins and Mike Scola is the odd man out. If Carolina wins, everyone lives to play another day.



Yesterday was wild, with tons of players waffling between kicking themselves or patting themselves on the back re: their Michigan/Oregon decision, then their West Virginia/Gonzaga decision in a short matter of minutes. I was one of the dummies who rolled the dice on West Virginia, and I have no nice things to say about Jevon Carter chucking multiple threes on one possession instead of PASSING THE FUCKING BALL. Meanwhile, I never actually thought Michigan would win, but rode with them anyway. Silly me.

I do feel a little better about Iowa State’s loss to Purdue, because the way Kansas played last night, it would have cost me about $800 to fly to KC and watch ISU get murdered by that sick Jayhawk performance. I still don’t think this is one of the great Jayhawk teams…which probably means they’re going to win it all.

In Bank, Pounders2 has opted for heavy banking, and now holds the Bank lead with 78 banked points. Matt Golden’s two entries both have 64 banked points — meaning that’s now the low water mark for making the medal stand. If you can’t get to 64 points, you have no path to money. Luckily, everyone still can!

Big ups to JRod1, who trusted the Xavier Musketeers, and got 15 more points for the effort. Everyone who counted on Arizona paid the price, but now JRod1 is right back in the mix for a medal.

Tonight’s big game is definitely UCLA v. Kentucky. Nearly everyone in the pool has at least one of those two teams, and JRod1 has both. How folks decide to play that game — who to bank, who to trust — will go a long way toward determining our eventual champ.

Enjoy your buckets, friends!


UPDATE (618PM CDT) — Apologies to everyone, as I realized I announced some of today’s banks yesterday. I didn’t mean to short change anyone strategically. Hopefully that wasn’t the case. Sorry again.

Golden2 – Kentucky, Florida

Pounders2 – UCLA

Edwards – Wisconsin

Hamblin – Wisconsin

Sweet 16 Preview: Back to Battle

Survivor Update

Survivor is so tough late. You think its hard trying to survive the early rounds? That’s nothing compared to the second weekend, where there aren’t many people left, and you have to decide between a riskier play at points and a ‘safer’ pick that costs you ground in the Tiebreaker. Of course, no pick is safe.

5 people went with Michigan today, although they’ve got to be nervous that Michigan was a 1.5 pt favorite last night, and the line dipped to pick ’em by tipoff. 7 points is the reward if the Wolverines survive. Arizona is the popular choice, drawing 7 entrants. The ‘Cats are a 7.5 pt. favorite tonight. 1 pick each on Kansas, Oregon and Gonzaga. All those entries are sitting pretty if either Arizona or Michigan falters.


Bank Update

This is where this pool really gets interesting…good drafts have placed some entrants above the others in the standings, but what happens now? Do you bank teams that are underdogs? Do you go for first and risk the points that got you there in the first place? Do you hope everyone else flies too close to the sun, and your banked points hold up?

Storylines abound! Here are the banks and leaderboard:

Day 5 Banks

MatthewGolden1 – West Virginia

MatthewGolden2 – Wisconsin

HereComestheGeneral – Xavier, Wisconsin

Wayne Tracker – Purdue

MarkLyons – Michigan

Pounders 2 – UCLA, West Virginia

Pounders 1 – Gonzaga

GoCats! – Oregon

NotasConfusedasLastYear – Wisconsin

ThreezusofNazareth – Gonzaga


Your leader, MattGolden2, had one decision to make today — trust Florida or Wisconsin? He banked the Badgers, and locked up their 24 points, and will hope that Florida can add to 16 the Gators have already earned. Probably the safe play, but this game is a tossup and could go either way.

WayneTracker, in second, is banking Purdue’s 16 and not trusting them against Kansas. I think Purdue’s a live dog here, but this is also the safe play. Wayne is also letting Michigan ride the wave, gunning for 14 more against Oregon, in a game the Wolverines are favored to win. My gut says one of those moves isn’t going to work out, but I’m not sure which one.

In third, Golden Clones has no teams in action tonight, so she’ll be hoping other entrants’ gambles blow up in their face, and her 63 banked points will keep looking strong.

One entry a bit down the board to watch out for is Neddington. Currently in 7th, Neddington has Kansas, West Virginia and Michigan all flying unfettered tonight. That’s a possible 42 points on the table, and could send him surging in to the lead.

Day 5: Heavyweights

Hard to remember a Sweet 16 packed with more of college hoops’ traditional powers than this one. In the South Region alone, you’ve got maybe college hoops three best programs of all time (UNC, Kentucky, UCLA) along with the most famous mid-major, who by the way, went to two straight Final Fours ten years ago. (Butler) In the East, you’ve got Florida and Wisconsin, two teams that just bring the mail in March, along with Baylor, who everyone forgets has been to a ton of Elite Eights under Scott Drew. There’s also Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Xavier (6 Sweet 16s in 8 years — damn).

Not a ton of analysis today (I’m sure you’re so disappointed), ready to get straight to the standings. I will likely not send a Thursday pick reminder, so consider this it — Survivor Picks due 15 minutes before first tip, Banks due at first tip.

Survivor Update


Another 9 victims today, with Duke, Cincinnati, Louisville and Rhode Island all claiming a few deaths. We’re getting down to the point where this pool gets so much tougher — you’ve already used some of the good teams, and it’s very hard to pick up points in the Tiebreaker standings without taking a big gamble on surviving at all.

Yeah, it’s a great pool format.


Bank Update


Added a feature to the spreadsheet I probably should have in on Day 1 — “Banked Points”. That’s how many points each entry has banked and, therefore, represents their minimum final score — and the score you have to beat to beat them.

The longer this pool goes, the more I like it, and it is going to force really tough decisions in the Sweet 16. Bank points or play on? If you’ve got two teams left that face each other (let’s say Gonzaga and West Virginia), what do you do? Do you pick one that’s going to win and bank the other? Do you bank both? If you’re near the top of the leaderboard, do you play it safe or go for the kill? I don’t know — this has never been done before. Your guess is as good as mine.

It’s very tight at the top, and based on what other players decide, anyone could still truly win.

Day 4: Moving Day

I love college hoops because, if you stick with a team for four years, you really get to see guys grow up. Yeah, there’s better basketball in the NBA. But you don’t get the treat of seeing Naz Long grow from an awkward 18-year old from Canada into a team leader, or Monte Morris from a young pup who would jump if Deandre Kane barked too loud into the best point guard in Iowa State history. I love that part — and I also love that there’s a time limit. College hoops has no ‘will he retire or not’, no ‘leaving the Bulls and coming back with the Wizards’ — the end is dictated for you. It makes it sad, but it makes it special.

Yesterday was a good day of basketball. A gooooood day of basketball. Here’s some random thoughts, before we get to the standings:

*What did I tell y’all about shotmaker Jevon Carter? Huge 3 at the 2:15 minute mark to really lock it up for West Virginia against Notre Dame.

*The ND/West Virginia game was a battle between two coaches who constantly look like they’ve overslept. Except Mike Brey looks like he’s trying to hide it, and Bob Huggins looks like he doesn’t give a fuck.

*I love how cowboy Gregg Marshall’s postgame quote after Wichita State beat Dayton was. “They deserved a better draw.” It’s like a gunslinger standing over the villain, smoke still spilling out of his gun, saying “It didn’t have to be this way.”

*Wisconsin/Villanova was a classic tournament game. Offenses that got stagnant waiting for the end of the shot clock, officials swallowing whistles in the final 8 minutes, the more physical team winning. I’m no Badger fan, but they win these games. And Nigel Hayes blasts the NCAA at will, so that’s always good.

*On Day 1, I told you “Don’t bet on unproven coaches of teams that are good for the first time.” Northwestern, Florida State & Minnesota. It’s day 4, and they’re all gone.

*The tournament always has a lot of games that, without March stakes, would be pretty brutal to watch. If you were watching Wisconsin and Villanova be that stagnant on offense, and that much bruising go uncalled, and it was November in the Maui Classic, you’d probably change the channel. But Win or Go Home can make even a shitpile Must See TV.

*Refs missed a pretty big goaltend against Northwestern, who almost forced Gonzaga into one of the all-time choke jobs. However, given that the Wildcats advanced, in part, because of massive Vandy brainfart, the missed call is really just one of the most delayed ‘ball don’t lie’s of all time.

*What MTSU did — making the second round twice in a row as a double-digit seed — is far more impressive from a program perspective than making the Sweet 16 once.

*The Cyclones realllllly battled last night, but couldn’t overcome too many first half misses and too much Caleb Swanigan. Regardless, Deonte Burton should get invited to the NBA dunk contest whether he’s in the league or not.


Survivor Update


25 left and a lot of deaths last night — FSU claimed 14 (told ya), MTSU took 4 brave souls looking for 12 second round points, and ISU, St. Mary’s and Villanova each picked off 1. It is really tough to get big tiebreaker points after the first weekend, so the leaders have given themselves a chance to win — if they can survive today.

UPDATE (11:20AM) —

Great minds think alike, and 10 of 23 entrants on Baylor today. The rest of the picks are scattered, and there aren’t many Tiebreaker points to be won, so the leaders have to be feeling good about that. DaveHurl2 and KingSolomon picking Vegas underdogs trying to make up big tiebreaker points. Here’s the full list:

10 – Baylor (3)

4 – Oregon (2)

3 – Louisville (2)

2 – UCLA (3)

2 – Duke (2)

1 – Rhode Island (11)

1 – Cincinnati (6)


Bank Update

I’m going to come out and say I think this is a good pool format. Watching the standings all day, every game yesterday seemed like it creating a big swing between people who had banked, and those who let it ride. Very tight at the top:

One feature I added to the sheet yesterday — a team in green is a team *still earning points* for that player. So if someone has banked a team, it is in white.

HereComestheGeneral! has taken a tight 1 point edge over MatthewGolden1 and Golden Clones, with MatthewGolden2 and ThreezusofNazareth close behind.

General jumped to the lead trusting Wisconsin and Xavier, and was rewarded when both brought home big points. Its still anybody’s game, but this was a big moving day for HCTG. I’m curious how people will treat Michigan, Cincinnati and Michigan State today.

Enjoy your buckets.

UPDATE (11:10AM CDT) —

Not sure if it was seeing a lot of banked teams turn around and win yesterday, or more faith in today’s potential upset winners, but way fewer banks today than yesterday. Here they are:

Matt Golden 2 — Wichita State, Michigan 

Matt Golden 1 — Wichita State, Rhode Island

Pounders 2 — Wichita State

Pounders 1 — Michigan, Wichita State

DaveHurl — Michigan, Arkansas

Golden Clones — Cincinnati, Michigan, Wichita State, Rhode Island

Threezus — Arkansas

Wayne Tracker — Rhode Island, Wichita State


The big game of the day is probably Wichita State v. Kentucky. The Shockers 3.5 pt. underdogs, and 6 players banked their 10 first round points, but another 5 players are mostly letting them fly, trying to snag another 15 points against Kentucky today. That’s a 25-point swing that’ll go a long way toward solidifying the leaderboard.

In a massive show of faith for Tom Izzo’s 21-4 career record in second games of an NCAA tourney weekend, all 6 players on Sparty are letting them ride, gunning for 16 points against Kansas. 4 of these players with MSU are in the Top 5 of the standings, so some dropped points would bring them back to earth.

Another key game is Rhode Island v. Oregon. MatthewGolden1, Golden Clones and Wayne Tracker all banked their 11 Rhode Island points. The Full Monte, NotasConfused and MarkLyons are all letting the Rams go Duck Hunting, and trying to make up ground in the standings.

ThreezusofNazareth (that’s me) is the only player in the pool leaving South Carolina active. 22 pt swing between winning and losing today against Duke.


Day 3: The Tournament Really Starts

Not a memorable first round. No buzzer beaters, no real upsets of note, no herculean performances, no magic tourney moments like Ron Hunter falling off his chair when his boy makes a game winner against Baylor. These past two days won’t go down in tourney lore as much of anything.

Howevah — the blessing here is a really, really potent second round with awesome matchups up and down the ticket. Here’s a ranking of how much I’m looking forward to watching today’s games:

  1. Butler/MTSU — These two teams don’t look, play, or think like mid-majors. They can both ball, and both deserve to be in the Sweet 16. A MTSU run would in a way sort of validate Sparty’s loss to them last year, but I’d also love to see Butler in another Final Four.
  2. Virginia/Florida — London Perrantes is one of those college players you just love. He doesn’t have a pro future, but he’s so clutch and so good for his team. Virginia may not be the best outfit to exploit Florida’s injured frontline. We’ll see.
  3. Iowa State/Purdue — Would have put this higher, but I think Purdue’s monsters in the middle are going to be too much for us to handle. That said, even a neutral should love the contrast in styles — Big 12 speed and athleticism v. Big Ten bruising. And the Big 12’s fourth place team is favored by 1 over the Big 10 champ, BTW. My best hope for this one is that, in a lot of tossup tourney games, the best player on the floor breaks the tie — and that’s Monte Morris.
  4. Gonzaga/Northwestern — I don’t really know if the Cats have even a puncher’s chance here, but they’re definitely playing with house money, and there’s something alchemical about that mentality that might matchup with Gonzaga’s constant anxiety about being overrated and choking and create an upset.
  5. Wisconsin/Villanova — I don’t really like either of these teams, but did you know Wisconsin has the most tourney wins over the last 4 years of any team in the country? Yeah, they’ve been here — and they’ll make Nova earn that Sweet 16.
  6. Arizona/St. Mary’s — I’m pumped about this because I really haven’t watched either of these teams play all year, and it’s one of those games where you find out how good KenPom ratings really are. St. Mary’s is rated 14th in the country in Pomeroy’s computer, 6 spots higher than the 2-seed Arizona, but Vegas has the Wildcats favored by 4.5. Also, Jock Landale is on the tourney’s all-name team and he don’t have to do nothing else.
  7. West Virginia/Notre Dame — West Virginia is a very stressful team to watch. They create turnovers, anxiety and madness…and somehow, that hasn’t turned into a conference title or Final Four. One difference about this year’s Mountaineer team is they finally have a guy who can make the big shot, Jevon Carter, who is next year’s Big 12 POY. Also, I don’t like Notre Dame.
  8. Florida State/Xavier — Eh.


Survivor Update


Two days after trash talking the pool by promising to blow all your money on gym memberships and pizza, Behzad Dabu is backing it up by leading the pool after Day 2. Impressive! And believe me, if you’d seen him, you’d know any gym membership would be a total waste of money. But Beh can squawk all he wants from the top spot.

SMU was the main killer yesterday, claiming 10 entries. Assorted entries went down with Seton Hall, Miami, OK State, K-State, Marquette and No Pick (oops).

Don’t be a No Pick victim! Get your pick in by the deadline!


Bank Update

Ah, now the fun really begins. Standings:

It’s super tight, and obviously still anybody’s game. I got more than one email this morning noting how this format ties you up in knots trying to decide whether to bank points or roll the dice with your squads. Yep! Totally the point!

We’ll see how decides to ride or die with the squads they picked and who banks, hoping others get too greedy. 11 entries within 11 points of the leader, and the amount of chalk that has won so far probably makes this pool even better — everyone still has a lot of teams to play with.

At 1130 or so, once the first game is underway, I will update this post with everyone’s Banks for the day. You can also seem the on the pool spreadsheet at any time.

Enjoy your buckets today, my friends. Go Cyclones!

UPDATE (11:30AM, CDT) — 

A lot of Banks today! First, the list. Then, some thoughts:

Matt Golden-1 — MTSU, St. Mary’s, Wisconsin

Matt Golden-2 — MTSU, Xavier

Mark Lyons — Wisconsin

Go Cats — Xavier

Wayne Tracker — MTSU, Wisconsin

Threezus of Nazareth — Xavier

Here Comes the General! — St. Mary’s

GoldenClones — West Virginia, ISU, Wisconsin, MTSU

Scoops — Xavier, Wisconsin, Virginia

Pounders 2 — St Mary’s, Wisconsin, Xavier, MTSU

Pounders 1 — Wisconsin, Xavier

JRod1 — Wisconsin

DaveHurl — Notre Dame

Neddington — ND, Wisconsin, Xavier

WingusandthePingPongBoys — Wisco, Xavier, MTSU

*8 of the 10 entries that successfully picked Xavier are calling BANK. JRod1 and HereComestheGeneral are taking their chances on the Musketeers, putting the first round’s 11 points on the line to win 14 more by knocking off the Seminoles. That’ll be a critical game to watch with the standings so tight.

*10 of the 14 entries that have Wisconsin are calling BANK. Team #RideorDie: Matt Golden-2, HereComestheGeneral,  The Full Monte, NotasConfusedasLast Year. Again — HCTG rolling the dice, risking 8 first round points to get a whopping 16 by knocking off Villanova.

*6 of the 12 with MTSU calling BANK. JRod1, Neddington, Scoops, TheFullMonte, GoCats!, DaveHurl. This will be a critical matchup. MTSU got 12 points in the first round, but can get 13 more with an upset win over Butler. Probably the matchup of the day. Interesting how many folks were willing to gamble with the Blue Raiders, who are 2.5 point underdogs against Butler.

*Two other key matchups are the 4-5 games, Iowa State v. Purdue and Notre Dame v. West Virginia. GoldenClones banked West Virginia, and Neddington and DaveHurl banked Notre Dame. Other than, everyone let ’em fly — and there’s a lot of ownership here. 7 entries have Iowa State against 4 for Purdue. 9 have West Virginia and 5 have Notre Dame. Who loses a few points from round 1 and who gains 12-13 in Round 2 will be pretty huge.


Day 2: Holding Form

Quick update, as the trip up to Milwaukee had me not back in Chicago until 45 minutes across the midnight line in to St. Patrick’s Day.

First things first, apologies for shortchanging the Bank Pool players by not making your picks viewable after you made them. Didn’t realize the Google form would do that, and I got slammed with work yesterday and didn’t have time to include it in the update. Here it is:

Bank Pool — Scoresheet & Pick Set

That spreadsheet has everyone’s picks, updated standings, an updated bracket, and a lot of self-taught Excel wizardry. Boo-yah. I’m 98% sure you only have “View”, not “Edit” privileges, but by all means, please don’t go fucking with the formulas even if you’re able to.

Also — if you want to send me your Banks early, now that you know the 2nd round matchups for Saturday, email them any time:

A few assorted thoughts from a most-welcome but a bit pedestrian day of hoops:

*On the way up to Milwaukee, I listened to Northwestern student radio crew. Good lord. If some people have faces for radio, the play-by-play guy had a voice for photography. The commentary’s even worse. If you want to make your ears bleed, flip it on while the Cats get declawed by Gonzaga Saturday.

*Notre Dame is on an incredible string of winning tourney games because other teams blow chances to beat them. Princeton missed 23 triples today and still only lost by 2, with an open 3 to win it in the end. As pool player NicholasCWard pointed out, “if they only miss 22 threes, they win.” Fuck Notre Dame.

*When I was a kid, I would freak out whenever a 1-seed was down at any point in the game. Holy shit! It might happen! We saw twice today 1-seeds turn first half deficits into 20-point wins. As I get older and older, the time in the game where I actually start to think a 1-seed might lose gets later and later. Now it’s 6 minutes left. If either Kansas or UNC is down tomorrow with 6 minutes left, a part of me will start to think they might go down.

*In general, I think mid-major schools with one really, really, really great player don’t tend to do too well in the tournament (see: Jimmer Fredette, Adam Morrison), so I was actually surprised to see Jock Landale and St. Mary’s bring pain to VCU today. St. Mary’s is ranked 5 spots higher than 2-seed Arizona in KenPom, by the way, and might be favored on Saturday.

*Can someone please explain why there were so many Wisconsin fans at the Iowa State/Nevada game wearing Wisconsin gear at the exact time Wisconsin was playing on television? Like…you literally paid money to go watch teams you don’t own gear for play during the team you’re gear sporting’s big game. I know it’s Wisconsin, and there really are no rules socially, but come on…this was truly baffling.

*It absolutely drives me nuts when writers (especially for the AP!!) use a word like ‘stunned’ to describe Xavier beating Maryland. Xavier was a one point underdog. Vegas gave them a 45% chance to win. It was not stunning.

*NCAA was charging $50 for parking at the Bradley Center tonight. $50. #amateurism, baby.


Survivor Update

We only lost 8 of 74 entries on a pretty chalky Day 1, with the late Vanderbilt shenanigans costing 3 entries their lives, and a scattered few backers of Maryland, VCU and VA Tech dropping out as well. 66 remain to play for the donuts.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, when there’s almost certain to be more upsets than today — when the only ones by seed (Xavier and MTSU) were actually both favored or toss ups according to Brent Musberger’s ‘friends in the desert.’ (Degenerate Vegas gamblers)

Some sort of scary moments on Day 1 for Notre Dame, West Virginia and Virginia. But good teams are good because a lot of time when it seems like they might lose, they don’t.

I won’t be sending an email to announce the picks once games start tomorrow, so don’t forget you can, as always, head straight to Tournament Pools to find everyone else’s picks once the day’s action tips.


Bank Update

Now that we’re off and running, let me share my three favorite things I about this format:

  1. It’s really simple and there are very few rules,
  2. It involves gambling within a pool you’re gambling on. Meta gambling. And,
  3. Everyone’s in it until the end.

Re: point #3. Let’s say you’re in 6th place, but the five people above you all have a team in the Title Game. They’re all trying to win first, so they let their team play unbanked, and it loses. They lose all those points. You win.

Anyway, here are your Bank standings after day one:

You can see the full list of which teams each player chose inside the Bank spreadsheet, which, again, is here. You’ll probably want to check it out at some point, as it will affect gameplay strategy, especially in later rounds.

Since no one’s made any egregiously stupid banks yet (starts Saturday!!!), let’s take a peek at which teams were the most popular among our 17 entrants:

Wisconsin – 15

Wichita State – 12

Middle Tennessee State – 12

SMU -11

UCLA – 10

West Virginia – 9

Xavier – 9

I’m a bit surprised (and, maybe, even a little disappointed) how similar so many of the entries were. That said, everyone will have a different strategy on how to play their hand — who to let ride and shoot for big upset points, and who to call bank on.

Enjoy your buckets today, everyone!




Day 1: The Best Most Wonderful of the Year

I still get goosebumps the first time I hear CBS’ tournament theme jingle each spring. Da-da-duh-duh-DUM-dum-dum. It sounds like buzzer beaters and heartbreak and elation. It sounds like Gus Johnson screaming “GONZAGA TURNS IT OVER” and Bill Raftery yelling “ONIONS!” It sounds like four days of being a kid again. It sounds like basketball.

Bracketologists! Hoopheads! Problem gamblers! It’s March again, assholes!

Welcome to Golden Bracket Pool 2017. This is my tenth year or so of running this pool, and it is always the highlight of my sports year. Welcome back to all the old timers, some with terrible new handles for the new year: Scoops, Here Comes the General!, NicholasCWard, Vetteman22, Bruce_Weber (not the mediocre basketball coach), MurphyBro, JRodMizuh. And welcome to the new kids on the block: MikeScola, DaveHurl, ChiGirl1279, and others.

We’ve got a record 74 entries in Survivor and 17 entries in Bank. 518 donuts to the winner in Survivor. 218 in Bank. Thanks for being willing to try an all new format with stupid rules made up by me. I’m sure you’ll all kick my ass.

Here is the link to the Survivor Pool standings. Tomorrow, I’ll send a link to the Bank Pool standings, but I’m still working on entering the entries into my boo-yah Excel sheet.

Here’s 10 Things I’ve Been Thinking about this year’s tournament:

  1. A few years ago, the committee decided to finally start honoring the geography of the regions, which had previously been random. This makes the tournament SO much better. Proximity breeds rivalry, and the tournament is just better when neighbor-to-neighbor games like Baylor/SMU, Iowa State/Kansas, Duke/South Carolina, Virginia/Virginia Tech, Arizona/Gonzaga, Kentucky/Cincinnati are more likely because of actually having the South be the South and the West be the West.
  2. Oklahoma State is really good, and Jawun Evans is going to raise his NBA draft stock by leading the Cowboys to the Sweet 16.
  3. The coach of every double-digit seed is only two wins away from getting an interview for Tom Crean’s job at Indiana.
  4. Teams I like in the tournament — squads that everyone thought would be good preseason but were disappointing (Maryland, Rhode Island, Michigan State). Teams I don’t like — teams that had really surprising seasons and are good for the first time in awhile (Minnesota, Florida State, Northwestern).
  5. As Lonzo Ball is doing everything he can to raise his draft stock, his dad Lamar is doing everything he can to torpedo it by challenging NBA Hall-of-Famers to one-on-one. This is why I LOVE hoops. You don’t get shit like this in the NFL. Everyone’s so serious and stuffy and busy ‘protecting the shield’, you don’t have time for Shaq to Twitter beef with Javale McGee, or an 18-year old’s dad who averaged 2.2 pts at Washington State to say he can beat Jordan one-on-one.
  6. I’ve been wondering lately what the all-time win % is for teams after they do the thing where the guard bringing the ball up the court doesn’t touch the ball for awhile in order to keep the clock stopped. How often do teams win after they do that? 5%? 8%? I’ve decided that this my new signal that a game is over. When they start not touching the ball on purpose, it’s highlighter time.
  7. I don’t know if it is more ‘fair’ when teams like USC, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt make the tournament over the Illinois States and the Monmouths, but I know the tournament is *better* when mid-majors get a shot. I watched the season. I know how good USC and Kansas State and Marquette are. The answer is: sorta, but not really. I really don’t know how good Illinois State is. Give ’em a shot.
  8. When in doubt, don’t pick teams — pick coaches and conferences. Coaches and conferences. Coaches and conferences.
  9. If Iowa State gets Kansas in Kansas City, they’ll win. But sadly, I think they’re going to lose to Purdue first.
  10. The ACC has the best players in the country, and will make about $30M for its member schools this month. None of it will end up being cash in players’ pockets. At least 8 of the league’s coaches make a million bucks a year. Give me a break.

Survivor Picks — Day 1

12 — Wisconsin

9 — Middle Tennessee State

6 — Maryland

5 — Iowa State

5 — West Virginia

4 — Florida

4 — Notre Dame

4 — Virginia

4 — Xavier

3 — Butler

3 — Purdue

3 — Vanderbilt

2 — Florida State

2 — Minnesota

2 — Villanova

1 — Arizona

1 — Gonzaga

1 — Maryland

1 — Northwestern

1 — Virginia Commonwealth

1 — Virginia Tech


Watch for me in the stands at the Iowa State/Nevada game. I’ll be the plain-ass looking kid from Iowa.

Enjoy your hoops!

GBP 2017 — Welcome & Rules

It’s March, y’all, which means two things: 1. Chicago weather is being an asshole, and 2. Golden Bracket Pool is back! Very excited to get my March Madness on with all of you once again — and hopefully we’ll have some new folks as well.

Two different pools this year. Play both, play either, play neither — whatever floats your boat. Here we go!

Golden Bracket Pool 2017 — Beginner Version (Survivor)
1. Pick one team at the start of each tournament day. (10 days total.)
2. If your team wins, you survive and move on. If not, you dead.
3. You may *not* pick the same team twice during the tournament.
4. The three entries that survive the longest win.
5. If multiple entries bust on the same day, ties are settled by the TIEBREAKER.

REAL TALK: Ties are very, very common. You need to know the tiebreaker.

TIEBREAKER: The total seed numbers of all your entry’s correct picks. So, for example – on Day 1, you pick a 7-seed. They win. On Day 2, you pick a 6-seed. They win. You are alive and your tiebreaker score is 13.

PICK DEADLINE: 15 minutes before each day’s first tip off.

MULTIPLE ENTRIES: Highly encouraged!

POOL LINK: GBP2017 (Survivor)

Golden Bracket Pool 2017 — Intermediate Version (Bank)
1. Before the tournament, pick 16 teams — 1 team of each seed #.
2. Earn points by which seeds your teams beat. (Beat a 16: 1 pt, beat a 15: 2 pts…and so on…beat a 1: 16 pts.)
3. At the start of each day, you can call BANK on any of your teams. This banks all the points that team has earned for you in the tournament. (Banks are unlimited).
4. When you BANK a team, you can earn no further points from them in the tournament.
Why would you do this? Because…
5. If you don’t call BANK and your team loses, you lose all the points they’ve earned for you throughout the tournament.

EXAMPLES: So…let’s say one of your teams is Arizona. In round 1, they beat North Dakota. (15-seed: 2 pts). In round 2, they beat St. Mary’s (7-seed: 10 pts.) In round 3, you let them play Florida State without calling BANK. Arizona loses. Those 12 points you got with them are gone. Another example: You have OK State. They beat Michigan (7-seed: 10 pts.) In round 2, you think they’ll lose, so you call BANK. You keep the 10 they won, but they’re done earning points for the tournament — even if they keep winning.

Make sense? It’s a game about how much you trust your teams, and how willing you are to roll the dice based on where you are in the standings. Should be fun.

HOW TO PICK YOUR TEAMS: Use this Google Form.
HOW TO BANK: Email me before the day’s first game to tell me who you’re banking.
PLEASE: Bank a team early that wins the national title so I can make fun of you.

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