riding — and asking — again.

cobert

I shouldn’t be surprised that we’re here again.

“Here” is waiting to see whether the just announced intention by the current White House to kill the Affordable Care Act is going to pick up any steam. “Here” is wondering whether type II diabetes will be classified as a pre-existing condition somewhere down the line. “Here” questioning what I’d do if my insurance provider, suddenly unburdened by the regulations of Obamacare, would subject me to coverage limits.

And, ultimately, “here” is me on my bike later this year, riding in the Pittsburgh edition of the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure and raising money so all of the other “heres” won’t matter.

I’ve talked to you guys about this stuff before, when I did the same ride up near Butler two years ago. At that point, we were in the first year of the Trump presidency and the future of Obamacare was uncertain, to say the least.

That part calmed down a bit — until very recently, anyway — but those worries were replaced by new ones … like the cost of the drugs people with diabetes rely on to manage the disease and, you know, keep us alive.

Back then, I was using injections of Lantus — a brand of insulin — each day as the primary treatment for the disease. I’m now using daily shots of Victoza to do the same thing. It helps — my latest A1C reading was 6.5, which is close to half of what it was when I was diagnosed — but it comes at a cost.

I am so fortunate — for me, that cost is largely borne by my insurance provider. If you’re underinsured, or if you have no insurance at all, you could find yourself on the hook for the full price of a three-pen box of Victoza — and that, boys and girls, costs just under $1,000. And you’d need 12 of those boxes to get you through a full year. Plain old insulin is a bargain by comparison, at $400 per box or roughly $1,200 a year.

Add to that the potential for losing insurance if the ACA goes away. Or being told by your insurance company that your rates are going to double because of your pre-existing condition. Or that we’re going to give you a thousand bucks a year to manage your diabetes, but you’re responsible for everything else after that. If that happens, even people who have good insurance could be in trouble.

The solution is the same now as it is then: Let’s not wait to see what happens in Washington. Let’s get the American Diabetes Association the money it needs to fund research and find a cure. Follow this link to my Tour de Cure page, where I will dazzle you with even more facts and, not coincidentally, you can make a donation. I’m hoping to raise $1,000, and anything you can give — ANYTHING — will be a huge help.

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TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) has tipped off.

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The tournament has begun, and things are … intense. Right, coach?

I appreciate your patience while Mrs. Crappy and I took in a Jeff Tweedy show in Indianapolis earlier this week. Without further ado, let’s get into all of the entries for Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub). Note that you will see that some teams in our picks have already been eliminiated; on Monday, I’ll go through the list and assess where we all stand.

As is tradition we begin, as usual, with me:

Sparty beats Florida State, and UNC beats Virginia. And in the title game, the Izzoheads beat Roy’s boys, 74-70.

And then, the rest of yinz guys, in no particular order. First up is noted Morgantown Democratic Socialist Joe:

Final Four: Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Kentucky

National Championship: Michigan State, Kentucky National

Champion: Kentucky Tiebreaker: 133

Faithful AUCNFFC participant Otimemore, who still occasionally lives in Pittsburgh:

Final Four
Duke vs Gonzaga; North Carolina vs Tennessee

Final
Duke vs UNC

Winner
Duke 75-68

First-timer (I think) Expatpghgirl:

Final 4 – Duke, Syracuse, Villanova, North Carolina

Championship Game – Duke, North Carolina

Champion – North Carolina (79-74).

OG AUCNFFC player AAA:

Duke – Gonzaga
Tennessee – North Carolina
Final – Duke & Tennessee
Winner Tennessee, 86-61

Here’s an old Twitter nickname — Dr. Scooter:

F4: Mich St/Nevada, Purdue/UNC

Title: Mich St/UNC

Champ: UNC 92-84

Kewyson‘s annual opus references my Globetrotters question:

Although with a lifetime record of 26,000+ wins to 6 losses, I didn’t even see the Globetrotters in the #16 play in games. So I will stay local to my abode (play the odds) – I have Duke playing Purdue (both Virginia and Tennessee will fall) and North Carolina playing M*ch#g!n.

In the final I have the 4th Battle of the Blues of the year – Duke vs. UNC. With Coby’s electrifying pink shoes helping UNC to beat Duke and Zion’s reinforced Nikes. UNC 84 / Duke 81.

Quick summary for your ease:
Duke vs. Purdue; M*ch#g!n vs. UNC
Duke vs. UNC; UNC 84, Duke 81

I know for a fact that Redbuppy would make good use of a $50 Piper’s Pub gift card:

Let’s go with Gonzaga and Villanova losing in the semifinals, and Duke beating Kentucky, 81-73, in the final.

I didn’t ask defending AUCNFFC champ Breaking Brews if he used all $50 at last year’s Imperial Breakfast. But he’s still alive, so I’m guessing he’s smarter than that.

Are you ready? Here’s how it’s done: Michigan State vs. FSU Tennessee vs. North Carolina. Michigan State vs. North Carolina. North Carolina. Screw Duke!!!!!!

Lorenzo:

Duke Michigan Virginia Kentucky. Duke Kentucky. Duke. 77-74.

The Sports Chump is back:

Duke over Michigan, Virginia over Houston.

Let’s go with Duke over Virginia by a score of 88-76 in the Final game.

Happy March, everyone!

Curl Girl Michelle has been doing this forever (and nearly won last year):

Final Four: LSU v Texas Tech, Virginia v. Kentucky

Championship game: LSU v Kentucky

Champion: Kentucky, 77-60

PghRugbyRef is channeling his inner Kewyson with his two-part entry. Here’s part one:

This post inspired me to start my predictions, as Sweet Georgia Brown (Teddy Riley Remix) played in the background I looked at the bracket and started selecting teams. As the song ended, I got to my Final Four:

Virginia Tech v Michigan
Wisconsin v Houston

And part two:

Ok, I have some time to work on this:

Michigan v Houston

Houston 133 total points

Thank you (and Piper’s Pub) for doing this again. I look forward to it every year.

HP from Lakewood, with the first-ever AUCNFFC photographic entry:

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Ethel, probably from her shiny new kitchen:

Final Four: Michigan State, Syracuse, Cincinnati, North Carolina
Final: Michigan State vs. North Carolina
Winner: North Carolina
Points: 122

Ohio State and Browns/Cavs/Tribe fan Kelsey:

I like . That said, I think the final 4 will be a battle of the mitten (UM vs MSU) and Wisconsin vs Kansas. I predict Sparty will beat Kansas 74-68!

Scooter from the Land of Suburban Shooting Guards:

Duke, the Rats from the North, UNC, UVA

Duke beats the Rats; UVA beats UNC

Duke 71, UVA 65

F Burris

(Editor’s note: Huh. I wonder what he means by that last thing?)

Sara Without An H:

Final Four
Duke vs Gonzaga; North Carolina vs Tennessee

Final
Gonzaga vs UNC

Winner
Gonzaga 82-79

Lunchbox Birdshit‘s basetball entry:

Duke/Gonzaga and Wisconsin/UNC

Gonzaga beats UNC, 88-85

Finally, we have Juan, oh he of little basektball knowledge. He is entered each and every year against his will (or, at least, without his approval); I couldn’t find picks from Phil’s Mom, so we’re going with the Penny-Flipping Method.

IMG_3565

And so we all understand my absolutely shameful handwriting:

LSU/Arizona State and Iowa/Georgia State

Arizona State beats Georgia State in the title game. I don’t think we’re going to worry about a tiebreaker.

And that’s what I have, boys and girls. As is always the case, if I missed your entry, it’s nothing personal — I’m just an idiot. Let me know and I’ll add you to the list. Hope you’ve enjoyed the games so far. And good luck to everyone. Especially me.

one hour.

When the big hand AND the little hand are on 12, I need to have your entries for Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub) in hand.

As I said yesterday, our In Real Life activities will prevent me from posting our entries until tomorrow, so I’ll post my choices now, in the interest of transparency.

Sparty beats Florida State, and UNC beats Virginia. And in the title game, the Izzoheads beat Roy’s boys, 74-70.

So let’s hear from you, kids. Remember: free, easy and $50 in goodies at Piper’s Pub for the winner.

the hoopage has (sort of) begun.

belmont-in-first-four

First — DON’T PANIC.

The NCAA has finally figured out a decent nomenclature for its play-in games, and those games — the First Four — have started.

But if you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll recall that the play-in games — or First Four, or whatever — never play a part in Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub).

What do I need? An entry, from you, by noon Thursday. Follow these helpful formatting suggestions and you’ll be fine.

We’ll have to do something a little differently this year as well. Mrs. Crappy and I will be on the road on Thursday, and that’s going to make it tough to assemble and post the usually lengthy roundup of our entries. What I will do is make sure I post my entries and those of Mrs. Crappy — if she chooses to participate — here before the games begin. Transparency and all that.

And remember, boys and girls — there isn’t an easier hoops pool out there, and you — yes, you — could win $50 to spend as you please at Piper’s Pub.

*insert whistling here*

harlem-gobetrotters0_254f9242-5056-a348-3a658b9dac2c3d1a

If the Harlem Globetrotters were a college basketball team, where would they be seeded in the NCAA tournament?

kKHB-v

It’s hard to say. But the record, you have to admit, is pretty solid.

Fortunately, those of us entering Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub) don’t have to worry about such things. Hell, we don’t even have to worry about coming up with a couple bucks to enter — because it’s free.

What do you have to worry about? Picking a Final Four, two finalists and a champion. And then telling me about it before noon on Thursday. Sure, there are some other details, but it’s really that simple — and there is a $50 gift card at Piper’s Pub for the winner. So if you like, you know, food and beer and stuff like that, you should enter.

ShimmeringPolishedGalapagosmockingbird-size_restricted

C’mon, people. You know you wanna.

how it’s done.

B10 Michigan Michigan St Basketball
Note the nearly perfect Surrender Cobra in the background. It’s hard being a basketball school.

Late last week, I announced the return of the Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub), because I wanted all of yinz to be prepared once we got our first looks at the brackets.

Now that we’ve accomplished that, let’s take a look at how TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) works, for the hoards of you who have never done this before.

Find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the TPAUCNFFC (BTYBM) right now. But I’m feeling generous, so here’s one you can fill out, print or save as a .pdf. Print it and fill it out, using whatever method you prefer.

You don’t need to submit to me the entire thing; in fact, I’d rather you didn’t. What I do need is your picks for the Final Four, the championship game and the eventual champion. 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 among 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: North Dakota State vs. Montana, Gardner-Webb vs. Abaline-Christian

Championship game: NoDak State vs. Abaline-Christian

Champion: NoDak State, 82-74

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.

And 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. Note: We do NOT follow the Price Is Right rule; the closest total, over or under, wins.

And the usual reminders:

  • There is no entry fee.
  • I need your picks (via Twitter, FB, text, email or any other communication method available) by noon Thursday.
  • We’re playing for a $50 gift card from Piper’s Pub (or, if you’re out of town, plain old fifty American dollars).
  • This is the easiest hoops pool you’ll enter all year.

And now, it’s official, boys and girls — entries are open. I hope to hear from you soon.