Ohio State couldn’t complete its run through the Big Ten tournament, but no matter — they’re ready to start the Big Dance, and that means it’s time for the Fourth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge.

The regulars know the drill, but I’m hopeful, as always, we’ll have some newcomers to join the fun; with them in mind, let’s take a brief stroll through the instructions, in handy list form:

  1. Find yourself a copy of the bracket. This shouldn’t be hard, but if you’re having trouble, CBS has a nice version here.
  2. Pick the four teams — one from each region — you think will win their regional championship and travel to the Final Four in Detroit.
  3. After consulting your bracket, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 4.
  4. Of those two two semi-final winners, pick who you think will win the championship game on April 6.
  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: Robert Morris vs. Cornell/Morgan St. vs. Binghamton
Championship: Cornell vs. Binghamton
Champion: Binghamton

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 for the third year in a row, using the picks of Phil’s Mom (assuming we can find the picks of Phil’s Mom). If you don’t know about Phil’s Mom, here’s my standard explanation:

Now — what’s with this Phil’s Mom thing? Uncle Crappy’s infatuation with Monday Night Football color guy and occasional radio host 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 a few years ago, 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 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. Okay – last year’s ‘method’ didn’t work so well – so I cruised the internet looking for anyone’s suggestions (without having to pay $$$) – I also consulted the WSJ’s new sports section – which still doesn’t quite measure up to any other section (it’s worse than a watered down USA Today) – but they like to equate it down to percentages, which gives their articles the impression of legitimacy (such as today’s stat that 19% of TV households in Louisville typically watch the NCAA tournament which is twice the proportion that watch the world series – so what that they don’t have an MLB team- they got the slugger, man!)

    Final 4 (in mascot names / themes): St. Patrick’s Day inspired Sparty taking on a howling Jonathan, with the not so slender Jonathan taking the wining bite out of the Spartan / Roc the Panther ‘duking’ it up with Rameses, with Rameses butting heads and ending up heels above the little kitty. The final bout will entail an epic battle between a dog and a ram, with Mary’s little lamb prevailing in Detroit. (Mrs. Crappy will be sooo happy)


  2. Kewyson, you’re a very tough act to follow.

    Final 4 – Mich St vs Connecticut & Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina

    Final Game – Connecticut vs North Carolina

    Winner – Connecticut




    Final 4: Memphis vs Louisville and Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina

    Final game: Lousiville v Pittsburgh

    Winner: Pittsburgh, of course (Come on, they’d revoke my pom poms if I went with Pitino’s team, even though I <3 Louisville too…)


  4. I really have a moral problem with cheering for Pitt and I am not interested in an Apple Tour. Here’s my 2009 wild ass guess.

    Kansas vs. Memphis
    Duke vs. Syracuse

    Memphis vs Duke

    Memphis Wins in Detroit


  5. Final 4 – Louisville, Connecticut, Pitt, North Carolina

    Final Game – Connecticut, Pitt

    Winner – Pitt

    This is a long shot from hell with Pitt but what the heck, Papuga needs a grudge match


  6. Final 4- Memphis, Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina

    Final Game- Louisville, Pitt

    Winner- Louisville

    I know….same as Papuga’s only flipping her off with a different winner. I’ll pay for this privately.


  7. Michigan St, Memphis, Pitt, and North Carolina in the Final Four with Michigan and Memphis going to the Big Dance. Michigan takes all.

    And, I’m sooo not afraid of Dawn and her pom poms (now that she’s not living in Pittsburgh).


  8. BB: Michigan is NOT the same as Michigan State. And if you had actually picked Michigan to win the tournament, we couldn’t be friends any longer.


  9. Because I could find no recorded evidence that Phil’s mom is making picks this year, and went ahead and did a bracket for Juan using the coin-flip method. Amazingly random, with a champion that’s not completely out of the question. You’ll see it tomorrow.


  10. I know next to nothing about basketball, so I let my dog pick (this was more complicated than I thought it would be and he took a REALLY long time):
    WVU vs. Conn; Gonzaga vs. Pitt
    Pitt vs. Conn


  11. Gina: I’m very happy you’re participating, but I’m going to need some more information — exactly HOW did your dog make the picks?


  12. I asked him and he told me. DUH!

    Actually – I wrote the names on papers and for each match-up, I set them down with a piece of food and picked the one he went to 1st. I could have clearly spent than time actually learning something about basketball.

    It was a slow work day…


  13. Newbie alert! Newbie alert! I thought I would come out of ‘lurk mode’ and play:

    Final 4 – Louisville, Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina

    Final Game – Connecticut, North Carolina

    Winner – North Carolina


  14. Here it is…

    Louisville vs. UConn and Pitt vs. Oklahoma

    UConn beats Pitt

    The juicy part is that UConn would be national champs with a 1-2 record against Pitt.


  15. No expert at all, but here’s what I came up with:

    Final Four: Louisville vs. Purdue/Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina
    Championship: Purdue vs. Pittsburgh
    Champion: Pittsburgh


  16. Final Four: Louisville vs Memphis and Pitt vs UNC

    Championship: Memphis vs Pitt

    Champion: Pitt

    Weeeeee are the chaaaampions, my frieeeends. And weeeeeeee’ll keep on fiiiiighting till the eeeeeend.

    LET’S GO PITT!!!


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