numbers don’t lie.


I gather from the dearth of Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought to you by Bocktown) entries that we’re having trouble coming up with the kind of quality picks that would warrant a $50 Bocktown gift card.

The pressure’s on. I get it. And I’m also here to help.

In one of my professional capacities, I spend a little bit of time each week checking out, the stats blog run by Nate Silver and his staff of fellow geniuses. Sure, when it comes down to it, these folks are simply calculating probabilities of everything from presidential politics to this year’s snowfall in Boston. But they do so with stunning levels of consistency and accuracy, so when they release a bracket that shows the probability of victory for each team in the tournament, it’s maybe worth taking a look at what they have to say about March Madness.

And once you’re done with your analysis, get your TAUCNFFC entry ready to go. Remember: It’s free, it’s easy and the winner gets a $50 Bocktown gift card.

ten years of wasted time.


Sometimes, the direct ledes are the best ones. Like, say, this: It’s time for the Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought to you by Bocktown).

Ten. TEN. TEN YEARS. I can barely remember to put on underwear these days, so I’m going to assume that you, like me, can use a refresher as to how these Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenges work, EVEN THOUGH WE’VE BEEN DOING THEM FOR TEN YEARS NOW. Here we go:

  • Find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the TAUCNFFC (BTYBB) right now. But I’m feeling generous, so here’s one, provided by the nice folks who employ me. Print it and fill it out.
  • After consulting your bracket, pick the four teams — one from each region — that you think will win the regional championships and travel to the Final Four in Indy.
  • After consulting your bracket again, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 5.
  • Consult your bracket once more, and pick the team from your semi-finalists who will win the title game April 7.
  • How do I figure out who wins? You get two points for picking a correct Final Four team, four points for a correct semi-finalist and six points for a correct national championship pick. Assuming I can add correctly (and there is no guarantee of that, boys and girls), the entry with the highest point total is our winner.
  • Yes, there is a tie-breaker and, yes, as we’ve seen several times, tiebreakers are important. When you submit your pick, please also include your projected score for the championship game. If it’s necessary, the entry whose total score is closest to the real thing will be our winner (EDIT, March 18: We do NOT follow the Price Is Right rule; the closest total, over or under, wins).

Still confused? Given that I’m writing this in a hurry I’m mostly copying and pasting from past AUCNFFC intros, that’s entirely possible. Here’s a purely hypothetical example of what an entry from this year’s bracket could look like (Note 1: This is NOT my entry. Note 2: These are the lowest seeds in the tournament; if you want to make this your entry, feel free, but do so understanding the risk of being Blutarskied):

Final Four: Hampton vs. Coastal Carolina, Lafayette vs. Robert Morris

Championship game: Coastal Carolina vs. Robert Morris

Champion: Robert Morris

Tiebreaker: 135

Simple, right? As you begin to mull your picks, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • One thing to make sure you don’t do: Send me money to enter. As has always been the case, TAUCNFFC (BTYBB) is free.
  • In the first four years of the contest, we were competing for cheesy trinkets and I usually included a disclaimer that our FABULOUS PRIZES weren’t actually fabulous. And then Chris at Bocktown Beer and Grill blew that out of the water by putting up a $30 gift card to the contest’s winner. Given that this is kind of special edition of the AUCNFFC, we’re going to up the ante a bit: a $50 Bocktown gift card for the winner.
  • Note: If you’re an out-of-town contestant, you may opt for the equivalent cash value of the gift card, which is, uh, approximately $50.
  • The tournament’s real games (the ones that used to be called the first-round games) get underway around 12:15 p.m. Eastern Thursday; I’m not a huge stickler, but I’ll need to have your entries by noonish that day for you to be eligible (see the Melo Rule below).
  • How do you enter? Comment. Email. Twitter. DM. Text. Facebook. Smoke signal. Please feel free adding whatever commentary you wish regarding how you arrived at your picks; each entry will be listed in a comprehensive post that’ll show up at some point Thursday.

And finally, the fine-printy things:

The Juan Rule: As is tradition, Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge, will once again be entered against his will, using either the Phil’s Mom Method or, if Phil’s mom isn’t picking this year, the Penny-Flipping Method.

The Melo Rule: Should an unforeseen thing happen with a player, a coach or a booster that might, in your opinion, have an impact on your already-completed entry, fear not. You may tinker as much as you like until I close the entries at noon on the tournament’s opening day.

The Crappy Rule: If I were to come out on top of my own contest (and believe me, boys and girls, there is very little chance of that happening), the Bocktown gift card would be awarded to the next runner up (although I retain full bragging rights, which I would exercise almost daily until next year’s contest). Mrs. Crappy, should she remember to get her entry in on time, does her own work and is therefore eligible to win the card (as long as she uses it to take me to dinner).

To summarize:

  • Free.
  • Easy.
  • Deadline is noon Thursday.
  • Bocktown gift card for the winner.

Have any questions? Let me know. Otherwise, good luck to everyone — especially me Mrs. Crappy.


wilco loves you

My friend Sarah just posted one of these on Facebook, and I decided to not wait until I was invited to jump in (sticking with my usual practice of posting FB memes here, because I try to never pass up a decent blog post these days). If you want to join in, feel free to post your list in my comments, on your own blog, on Facebook, wherever — just let me know, because I want to see your list.

Sarah specified just a few rules: 1) Be sure to note your first concert. 2) Bands you’ve seen as openers or as part of festivals count, but try to come up with 50 headliners first. 3) Don’t worry about what order these are in — a stream-of-consciousness list is fine. And I’ll add one more: 4) Any additional notes you want to add are encouraged.

EDIT: I’m having way too much fun with this, and I’ll probably continue to add notes for a while.

1. Grateful Dead (the band I’ve seen the most, at 40-something shows)

2. Phish (First time should have been at The Dugout in Athens in 1991. First time instead turned out to be a year later at the Newport in Columbus.)

3. moe.

4. Blues Traveler

5. Spin Doctors (They were the biggest of the three likely Grateful Dead replacements [Phish and Blues Traveler were the others] in the early 1990s, and they were easily the worst band of the bunch. Saw them again years later during some festival on Walnut Street and they looked like they absolutely hated being there.)

6. Yonder Mountain String Band

7. Railroad Earth

8. Infamous Stringdusters

9. Sting

10. Steve Winwood

11. The Rolling Stones (In Richfield Coliseum [Tattoo You tour], at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville [Steel Wheels tour] and in Ohio Stadium in Columbus [Bridges to Babylon tour].)

12. Bob Dylan

13. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

14. Kiss (Headliner of my first show, in Cincy’s Riverfront Arena, just a few weeks before The Who’s disaster there.)

15. Judas Priest (Opened for Kiss in Cincinnati. Still the loudest thing I’ve ever heard.)

16. Eric Burdon Band (At what is now the Newport in Columbus. He didn’t start until about two hours late, testing my patience of my father, who took junior high-aged Juan and me to the show on a school night; the back of his tour shirts read “Fuck me, I thought he was dead,” testing the patience of pretty much all the adults in my life.)

17. Little Feat

18. B.B. King

19. The Fabulous Thunderbirds

20. Stevie Ray Vaughan (A co-headlining tour with No. 21 Jeff Beck, at Louisville Gardens while I was in the Army. I’d be hard pressed to recall a show with better guitarists. And I was lucky to see Stevie Ray when I did; he was killed in a helicopter crash not long after.)

21. Jeff Beck

22. The Allman Brothers Band

23. Greg Allman Band

24. Gov’t Mule

25. Widespread Panic

26. Jimmy Buffett (A fun thing — sneaking oranges loaded with vodka in to Blossom Music Center.)

27. Pink Floyd

28. Living Colour

29. Wilco (Should be higher on the list, as I continue to maintain they’re the best live band out there today.)

30. Tweedy

31. Black Crowes

32. Tedeschi Trucks Band

33. Georgia Satellites

34. REO Speedwagon (My buddy TJ and I drove from Athens to Cincinnati to see Georgia Satellites, the night’s opening act at Cincinnati Gardens; we didn’t stay for much of the headliner, REO Speedwagon, opting for a late dinner at White Castle instead.)

35. Molly Hatchet

36. .38 Special

38. Blue Oyster Cult

39. Hot Tuna

40. The Pretenders

41. Cheap Trick (My one and only concert at Ohio State’s St. John Arena. There were no tickets sold in the upper deck because it bounced too much.)

42. Foghat

43. Sinead O’Connor

44. Avett Brothers

45. Black Moth Super Rainbow

46. Sonic Youth

47. Bruce Hornsby

48. Keller Williams

49. Disco Biscuits

50. Etta James

Note: I could keep going for a while…

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.

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


Florida 128

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

Kansas – Michigan St
Arizona – Louisville

Kansas – 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:


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., 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.