OK. It took me about 15 minutes or so to get over the fact that Ohio State won’t be playing in this year’s NCAA championship tournament, thus killing the potential for enduring a fourth bitter major-sport title-game defeat in the last 16 months.

Know what helped? It’s time for the Third Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge.

I’m hoping we have some new players this year, so let’s take a second and go through the instructions, in handy list form:

  1. Get yourself a copy of the bracket. CBS has a nice one here.
  2. Pick the four teams — one from each region — you think will win their regional championship and travel to the Final Four in San Antonio.
  3. After consulting your bracket, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 5.
  4. Of those two two winners, pick who you think will win the championship game on April 7.
  5. Each correct pick gets a point; a correct pick in the title game gets three. The entry with the highest point total at the end is our winner.

Using this year’s bracket, here’s a completely hypothetical — and highly unlikely — example of what your entry might look like:

Final Four: American vs. Maryland-Baltimore County/Belmont vs. Austin Peay

Championship: American vs. Austin Peay

Champion: Austin Peay

Let’s go Peay!

As always, you’re encouraged to supplement your picks with whatever explanations or smack you feel like tacking on. Get your picks to me by noon Thursday — when the first-round games begin — via email, comment or smoke signal, and I’ll have them all posted here Thursday afternoon for everyone to see.

The best parts? It’s free! And we’re competing for Fabulous Prizes,* hand-selected by Uncle Crappy!

And so we’re all clear on one thing — Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge or interest, will be entered against his will again this year, using the picks of Phil’s Mom. If you don’t know about Phil’s Mom, here’s an explanation from a year ago:

Now — what’s with this Phil’s Mom thing? Uncle Crappy’s infatuation with Tony Kornheiser is well-documented, and the mother of Phil “The Showkiller” Ceppaglia, who served as the producer for Kornheiser’s radio show when it was on ESPN, has been a fixture during tournament time for several years. She’s usually relied upon to provide a little comic relief, because she knows absolutely nothing about basketball, but last year, Phil’s Mom shocked the world by picking George Mason to win it all. GM nearly did, making it to the Final Four and making Phil’s Mom nothing short of a folk hero.

If you have other questions, please feel free to get in touch. If not, get your entries to me by noon Thursday, and we’ll get the fun underway.

*Prizes not actually fabulous. Unless Uncle Crappy wins his own contest.


  1. I’ll submit ‘ktdolobk’ or kewyson’s third demonstration of lack of basketball knowledge shortly – you really think peay has a shot this year?


  2. Mr. Burns: So you’re going to start commenting now?

    Kewyson: I just got your submission. That’s quite a system … And Austin Peay? Uh, no.


  3. The 18-year-old boy had never spoken a word in his life, and everybody assumed he was mute. Then, years after his parents had given up, the teen was sitting at the kitchen table when he said, “Mom, the soup is cold.” The mother drops a dish and gasps in disbelief. “If you can talk so well, why haven’t you spoken before now?” she asks.

    “Because,” the teen explains, “everything was fine until now.”


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