lost hoppertunity.

I had my Kentucky Derby horse. And it would have been perfect.

A beer-related name. Trained by Bob Baffert, who is my guy. And he would have worn the silks of co-owner Michael Pegram — a big MP, which, by the way, ARE MY INITIALS AS WELL.

Hoppertunity would have been a solid choice too, opening betting after the announcement of post positions at 6-1. But after he limped through a practice run on Thursday, Baffert withdrew him from the race.

And left me without my most simpatico Derby choice ever.

DanceWithFate2

That’s OK, though. Perhaps this is the right year to Dance With Fate instead.

blue. grass. bock. town.

I’m not sure that John Calipari’s system at Kentucky — grabbing a bunch of talented one-and-done freshmen in hopes that he can cobble together a solid team in time for a March run — is good for college basketball. And I know for certain that it wasn’t good for nearly every single person who entered the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

But it has worked out well for Bill, my colleague who was the one NAUCNFFC contestant to pick the Wildcats to win the tournament. As it turns out, Bill doesn’t even need Calipari to win on Monday night; by virtue of the fact that he was THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CONTEST TO CORRECTLY PICK  A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PARTICIPANT, he’s already got more points than the rest of us. And there’s nothing any of the rest of us can do to catch him.

To be more specific: Bill picked up two points from Kentucky when the Wildcats made the Final Four. He grabbed another four when UK beat Wisconsin on Saturday and he could win another six if his father’s Cats win the title.

The rest of us? We shouldn’t be mad at Kentucky. We should be mad at Florida. Nineteen of us picked the Gators to at least make the championship game on Monday, and most of those guys picked Florida to win it all. So when the Gators gagged against UConn, the contest was over for just about everyone.

Honorable mentions? Sure. Even though the points don’t reflect it, our clear runner up was Barb, who would have been our winner had Wisconsin beaten UK in the Saturday’s semi-final game. With Florida out, NAUCNFFC (BTYBB) came down to that game, and Barb was a last-second missed shot away from her second AUCNFFC championship.

And shouldn’t forget Aunt Annoyed Angel, Sports Chump, HP and Jenny. That anyone — much less four of us — managed to find four points in the toughest AUCNFFC ever is remarkable. Nice work by you.

But as always, NAUCNFFC is a winner-take-all deal, and it is Bill who has earned this year’s $30 Bocktown gift card. Congratulations to him.

And to everyone who entered — thank you once again for playing along. Be sure to try again next year. We’re going to make sure the prizes for the Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) are even more fabulous than usual.

wreckage.

 I’m accustomed to writing posts about the smoking carnage that is the brackets of my AUCNFFC contestants at this point of the tournament. And the brackets of those entered in the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) are no different.

Well, actually, they are. If it wasn’t for the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, Florida, advancing to the Final Four, I would be writing about what would likely be the worst set of initial AUCNFFC standings ever. And even with the Gators advancing, as so many of you predicted, our anticipated dancing partners failed to join them.

Because we now have a Final Four, we now have standings. And they’re not especially pretty. In fact, none of us — none of the 40 of us — managed to correctly pick more than two of the Final Four teams. There is a huge knot of people with two points and the possibility of gaining more — but because nearly all of those folks picked Florida, they have no hope of catching the few who picked the Gators and another of the Final Four teams correctly. We have a couple people whose picks could make things interesting — and yes, we have a healthy number Blutarskys (we’ll get to them in a little bit).

Your standings:

Four points (two correct Final Four picks):

  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Sports Chump
  • Hellpellet
  • Jenny

These guys are in the driver’s seat. If Florida wins the tournament, it’ll come down to the tiebreakers these guys submitted when they entered. And no, there are no matching tiebreakers this year. And if Florida loses and UConn wins, these guys still have a lead that should be tough to overcome.

Two points (the outliers):

  • Barb
  • Bill

There are a ton of contestants that earned two points and have the possibility of more, but Barb and Bill are in a group of their own. Barb is the only one of us to pick Wisconsin to win the title and Bill was the only one to pick Kentucky. I haven’t done the math, but I’d guess that if either the Badgers or the Wildcats wins the title, there isn’t anything the rest of us could do to catch them.

Two points (with the possibility of more):

  • My mom
  • Casey
  • Terry Coyne
  • Bluzdude
  • Dish
  • Foodcollage
  • Tim
  • J.D.
  • Megan
  • Shane
  • Eric
  • Patrick
  • Scooter
  • Neilson
  • Otimemore

With the exception of Otimemore, you guys all have something in common — you all picked Florida to win, and the Gators were your only correct Final Four pick. But even if you’re right, you’re not going to catch AAA, Sports Chump, Hellpellet or Jenny. And while Otimemore picked Florida to advance to the title game (thus giving him the possibility for more points) he had them losing in the title game to Arizona.

Two (and done):

  • Crappydad
  • Dana Bee
  • Curl Girl Michelle
  • Father Spoon
  • Kristen
  • Tom
  • Doctor Lunchbox

Thanks for playing, guys. Hope to see you back here next year.

And that leaves us with the special members of the group, the ones who couldn’t muster a single correct pick in this year’s tournament. If you’re a new AUCNFFC player, you may not be familiar with the term “Blutarsky.” But it’s likely you do recall the scene in Animal House when members of the Delta house visit the office of Dean Wormer to discuss the mid-term grades of the fraternity’s members. And it’s probably likely that you remember what the dean says to John Belushi’s character — because the words, at this point, are immortal.

“MISTER Blutarsky…”

This year’s Blutarsky Award recipients:

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • Gina
  • Chachi
  • Pghrugbyref
  • Trailion (and Evan)
  • RPM
  • Kewyson
  • Carla
  • Grandpa Caldwell
  • Juan

Thanks for your participation, my fellow Blutarskys. I have two suggestions: 1) Next year, go with the chalk, and 2) Be nice to this year’s winner — maybe they’ll invite you to dinner at Bocktown. That’s my plan, anyway.

thanks, dayton.

One of these years, I will learn this lesson: chalk pays.

Sure, I loved hassling those who entered the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) without taking any risks. But this year especially, those who did are sitting pretty.

Because I don’t start awarding points until we get down to the Final Four, I won’t have any actual standings until after this weekend’s games — but that didn’t stop me from taking a quick look just to see how everyone is doing. This is not an especially deep examination — I don’t look at whether both of your championship teams are available, for example — but we can still get a decent idea of who’s still alive and who is struggling.

All four alive (pretty much self explanatory):

  • Crappydad
  • My mom
  • Casey
  • Hellpellet
  • Foodcollage
  • J.D.
  • Megan
  • Shane
  • Patrick
  • Scooter
  • Neilson
  • Doctor Lunchbox

Three plus (You have three of your four alive, including your championship pick):

  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Otimemore
  • Sports Chump
  • Curl Girl Michelle
  • Barb
  • The Mysterious Terry Coyne
  • Bluzdude
  • Father Spoon
  • Trailion/Evan
  • Dish
  • Carla
  • Jenny
  • Bill
  • Eric
  • Kewyson

Two plus (You’ve lost half of your picks, but your champ is still alive):

  • Gina
  • Tim
  • Grandpa Caldwell

Blutarsky potential (No more than two picks left, and your champ is done):

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • Dana Bee
  • Chachi
  • Pghrugbyref
  • RPM
  • Kristen
  • Juan

That’s a whole mess of NAUCNFFC contestants who have a solid chance at our Bocktown gift card, boys and girls. Regardless of where you stand, I hope yinz enjoy the games this weekend.

 

naucnffc (btybb) tipoff.

If it’s the longest post of the year, it has to be time to go through the entries of the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

Because of a couple of work things on Thursday afternoon, I’m posting this nearly a full day later than I usually do. I appreciate your patience; I also appreciate that most of you appeared to heed my warning about Ohio State’s first-round game against Dayton.

As is tradition, we’ll begin with the picks of yours truly:

I approached this year’s tournament with one thing in mind: Don’t be chalky. And I think I did pretty well.

Kansas v. Iowa State / Arizona v. Wichita State

Wichita State beats Kansas for the title, 79-78

(And yes, I think Ohio State will beat Dayton, in an uncomfortably close game.)

Family always comes first. That segment begins, as usual, with Mrs. Crappy, who’s all about the nicknames this year:

‘Cuse beats Cincy, Zaga beats Dook. ‘Cuse beats Dook for the championship (114 points).

Here’s Crappydad, whose geographic concentration is, uh, stunning:

Michigan State beats Florida. Michigan beats Arizona. And Michigan State beats that other team from the State Up North, 64-52.

Next up is my mom, who doesn’t want anything Crappy attached to her name:

Final Four: Florida & MSU, Arizona & Louisville

Final: Florida & Arizona

Winner: Florida

Score: 68-66

Next up is our defending AUCNFFC champion, Aunt Annoyed Angel:

Final four: Florida v Virginia & Wisconsin v Wichita State.

Championship game Florida v Wichita State. Champion: Florida. Tiebreaker: 162.

And then the rest of you, in no particular order. We start with Otimemore; the only reason I know Otimemore personally is because of this here college basketball pool:

Final four: Florida v. Villanova. – Arizona v. Louisville

Final Florida v. Arizona

Champ Arizona (149 pts)

Past AUCNFFC champion Casey:

Final Four: Florida vs. Iowa State / Baylor vs. Louisville

Championship: Florida over Louisville (150 points)

The lovely and talented Dana Bee:

FF: Louisville vs. Oklahoma – Kansas vs. UCONN

Final: Louisville vs. Kansas

Champ: Kansas

Tiebreaker: 154

The SportsChump gets in on the action for the first time:

Final Four: Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Duke

Florida over Duke in the championship game, Total Score: 144

Gina and her menagerie are giving it another shot. Sort of.

OK – so the stupid dog won’t pick and the cats are idiots, so I had to pick my own final four, then I rolled the papers into balls & threw them across the room. The winner went furthest. Next year, I’m letting the hermit crab pick.

Final Four: Michigan St vs. Kansas, Wichita St vs. Arizona

Championship game: Michigan St vs. Wichita St

Champion: Michigan St

Tiebreaker: 148

AUCNFFC veteran Curl Girl Michelle:

Final Four: Florida vs. Virginia / Arizona vs. Wichita St.

Championship: Virginia vs. Arizona

Champion: Arizona

Tiebreaker: 137

The wise and knowledgeable Chachi:

Final four: Kansas v. Villanova, Arizona v Wichita State

Final Villanova v. Wichita St.

Champ Villanova

Tiebreaker: 139 points

Past champ Barb:

Final four:  Syracuse vs. Virginia, Wisconsin vs. Louisville

Champ Game: Syracuse vs. Wisconsin

Champ: Wisconsin

Tiebreaker: 140

Terry Coyne, I have no idea who you are, but thanks so much for playing along:

Final Four: Florida v. North Carolina and Arizona v. Louisville

Championship game: Florida v. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 161

Fellow former Ohioan Bluzdude:

Final 4: Florida vs Michigan State, Arizona vs Duke.

Championship Game: Florida vs Duke

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 126

I’m glad I don’t have to pick a favorite rugby player in Pittsburgh; picking my favorite Pghrugbyref, however, is easy:

Final Four: VCU, UVA, Creighton, Duke

Championship: VCU v Creighton

Champ: Creighton

Tiebreaker: 121

Doug, aka Father Spoon, aka Doogle, aka past AUCNFFC champ:

Final Four: Florida vs. Villanova, Michigan vs. Arizona

Championship game: Villanova vs.Michigan

Champion: Michigan

Tiebreaker: 149

Trailion’s son Evan is trying to kill me:

Michigan State defeats Kansas.
Michigan defeats Arizona.
Wolverines beat Sparty. SPARTY, NOOOOOOO!

Dish is also trying to kill me:

I’m still waiting for The College of New Jersey to somehow earn a 16-seed one of these years. My main guiding principle is screw Duke. Also picking two Michigan teams to see Uncle Crappy’s head explode.

Florida over Michigan State
Michigan over Creighton

Final: Florida over Michigan (121)

Hellpellet’s assessment is correct:

Florida, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Louisville

FL vs Luhvl with FL winning.

Tiebreaker 142

Earliest I’ve ever gotten this to you? Yes, I think so.

Foodcollage, a Buckeye by way of Canada, returns with more picks:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State, Arizona vs. Louisville

Championship game: Florida vs. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 157

Go Bucks!!

Redpenmamapgh’s treatment of North Carolina will make Mrs. Crappy happy:

Final Four: Syracuse vs. N. Carolina, Baylor vs. Duke

Final: Duke vs. Syracuse

Winner: Syracuse

tiebreaker: 122

My old friend Kewyson:

In the Final 4 – Syracuse will meet Michigan State – with the green prevailing over the Orange. Arizona will meet The Team Up North – with the Tucson team winning. MSU will win the final – with a score of 87 over 79.

Tim, another former AUCNFFC champion:

Florida, Nova, Arizona, Duke

Fl-AZ

Florida 128

My Carla and Crappy Show co-star knows college basketball too:

Kansas – Michigan St
Arizona – Louisville

Kansas – Louisville

Louisville
130 (68-62)

My colleague Kristen came up with solid picks, despite claims of college basketball ignorance:

Final Four: Kansas/Michigan State and Wisconsin/Duke

Final: Kansas/Duke

Winner: Duke

Tiebreaker: 137

My #asistradition buddy Jenny worked much of Wednesday afternoon to come up with these:

Four: FLA – VA, WISC – WICH

Final: FLA – WICH

Win: FLA

Tie: 148

My grumpiest colleague, J.D., is hoping some Bocktown fries will cheer him up:

Final Four: Florida, Michigan State, Arizona, Louisville

Championship game: Florida and Arizona

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 160

Another colleague, Megan, joins us for the first time:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State; Arizona vs. Michigan

Championship game: Florida vs. Arizona

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 87 to 82 (169)

We can all be thankful that Bill’s son, a noted college basketball savant, didn’t enter. We’re happy to have Bill’s picks, though:

Final Four: Syracuse vs. Michigan State/Kentucky vs. Az.

Final: Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Winner: Go ‘Cats, for my Dad, a native of Ky. who always believed in UK, except in football, as he was occasionally a wise man.

And Bill helpfully added a short time later:

If the ‘Cats win, I won’t need a tiebreaker, but I’ll post one anyway: 125

I’m not going to let the fact that Shane is my boss to influence the outcome of NAUCNFFC in any way. Probably.

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State; Arizona vs. Louisville

Final: Florida vs. Arizona

Winner: Florida 68, Arizona 64 (132 total)

Eric, a sportswriting professional, heads off the beaten path:

FINAL FOUR: Florida, Iowa State, Arizona, Wichita State

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Florida 71, Wichita State 60

Why? Because everyone is picking Louisville and Michigan State

Tom returned from vacation just in time to enter:

Florida, Virginia, Arizona and Louisville
Final: Virginia and Arizona
Champion: Arizona
Tiebreaker: 156

Patrick’s back:

Fla.Michigan StateArizonaLouisville

Fla.Louisville

Fla., 130

Grandpa Caldwell, who is a long way from being an actual grandfather:

final 4: osu v Villanova; sd state v Michigan. Champ game: Villanova v Michigan. Winner: Villanova. Tiebreaker: 145

Veteran AUCNFFCer Scooter, who didn’t pick Pitt:

Final Four: Florida, Michigan St., Louisville, Arizona

Final: Florida v. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 142

Penn Stater Neilson is sticking with the Big Ten:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State / Arizona vs. Michigan

Championship: Florida over Michigan (137 points)

Doctor Lunchbox: No, thank you, sir:

Final Four: Michigan State vs. Florida and Louisville vs. Arizona
Championship game: Michigan State vs. Louisville
Champion: LouisvilleTiebreaker: 107
Thank you, sir.

And then there’s Juan, oh he of little basketball knowledge. I was able to track down the pick’s of Phil’s mom, so that’s what Juan gets again this year:

Gonazaga beats UMass, Colorado beats Iowa State. And Colorado beats ‘Zaga for the title. God, let’s hope we don’t need a tiebreaker for this one.

And that’s it, boys and girls. Thanks again to Chris Dilla for the generous sponsorship, and thanks to each one of you who entered.

If I missed your entry or somehow screwed up something else — a thing we know from past experience is not only possible but likely — just let me know and I’ll get it fixed right away.

And, as usual, good luck to everyone. Especially Mrs. Crappy (Woooo, Bocktown dinner!).

Edit, Friday afternoon: I forgot to include Eric’s picks in the initial list; his stuff has since been added. And as past repeat AUCNFFC champion (and NAUCNFFC non-participant) Mr. Burns pointed out, I predicted that the championship game would end in a tie. Even though my tie-breaker doesn’t really matter because I can’t win my own contest, I’ve corrected my typo.

it’s a trap.

The Flyers are pumped. Thanks to @calipanthergrl for the pic.

The Flyers are pumped. Thanks to @calipanthergrl for the pic.

I cringed as soon as I saw the announcement.

Ohio State vs. Dayton in the first round of the tournament.

My first thought: “That’s a first-round loss for the Buckeyes.”

I hope I’m wrong. But look:

  • Ohio State has no consistent scoring.
  • Ohio State had a weak finish to its season.
  • Ohio State may not be especially interested in a first-round game against Dayton, a team that will definitely be interested in beating the state’s biggest and best program.

Classic trap game, in every way. I haven’t decided how I’m going to pick this one — but I could very easily pick the Flyers to win.

Which, of course, means I’m probably totally wrong, and you should pick Ohio State to win the whole freaking thing.

And that, boys and girls, brings us to our now-daily reminder: Registration for the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) is open for just about another 24 hours. Entries are coming in at a steady pace, but it’s looking like we’re going to have a smaller-than-usual field this year. And that means the odd of you winning a $30 Bocktown gift card are better than ever.

Full rules and guidelines? You’ll find those here. But remember, it’s free and it’s easy — I need only your final four, championship game teams and eventual champion (plus a predicted title game score, to serve as a tiebreaker).