Folks, I have to apologize. I normally would have had this update ready by midweek at the latest, but real life got in the way in a pretty significant manner this week.
But writing about basketball — and the Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*) is the kind of distraction I need — so let’s get down to bidness.
As longtime AUCNFFC players will recall, no one has any points yet — that doesn’t happen until teams actually reach the Final Four after Monday night’s games.
We can, however, begin to ascertain how things might shake out, based on the results of the first weekend. Quite a few of us picked Ohio State as our eventual champion, for example — and that’s not going to work out so well. A few others of us went all in on the Big Ten — and that’s really not going to work so well.
But most of us — well over half, in fact — were able avoid real disasters associated with early upsets, and are therefore in pretty good shape. And there two of us — just two of us — who have an intact Final Four still alive.
I have done no math associated with this so far, but in general, I’d give the advantage to those who are still working with their pick to be national champion over those who are trying to move on without. And so, we begin with the bad news and move on to the good.
One FF team alive, champ pick is out:
One FF team/champ alive:
Two FF teams alive, champ is out
Three FF teams alive, champ is out
Pgh Rugby Ref
Three FF team/champ alive
Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
Aunt Annoyed Angel
Styx 4 Curl Girl
North Coast Matt
And our best of the best, as we go through the second weekend of FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*):
All FF picks/champ still alive
There is one more player I haven’t mentioned, and that’s Juan, oh he of little basketball knowledge. When I started this thing, I was concerned that I wouldn’t get enough entries to make it interesting, so I badgered the hell out of my family and close friends to get in. Most were accommodating, but Juan dug in his heels, giving me BS reasons like “I don’t like college basketball” and “Why are you torturing me?” When he finally made it clear that he was out, I decided to enter him anyway, using a variety of methods that pretty much guaranteed that he wouldn’t come close to ever winning this thing. He grumbled about it at first, but eventually came to appreciate that he would be entered in AUCNFFC with zero effort and almost zero chance of stressing about it at all. It became a standing joke, one of a looooooong list of standing jokes we had between us.
Juan — that’s not his actual name — was my friend who died this week. We’re not going to worry about his picks for the rest of FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*), and if I do this again next year, I suspect the tournament will be named in his honor. Which he would find as funny as I would hope.
I hope your teams do well this weekend, and I’ll be back on Tuesday — I promise this time — with the first look at our official FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) standings.
Sister Jean says it’s go time. And we never argue with Sister Jean.
Because you never argue with a Chicago nun.
But we don’t need to be afraid of Sister Jean — or of rogue yardsticks: There is championship basketball on our screens and the Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*) is underway.
As I do every year, this is the post where our picks are revealed and we all begin the painful public shame and humiliation of sports prognostication — and for one lucky contestant, never-ending glory and $50 for drinks and food at the legendary Piper’s Pub. So — who ya got?
As is tradition, we begin with Yours Truly:
Gonzaga and Michigan on one side of the bracket and Houston and … wait for it … Ohio State on the other. Title game is the Zags and my Buckeyes. And the champion? Gonzaga is this season’s Team Of Destiny — but the Buckeyes are winning the title. And they’ll win by a score of 74-68.
Next we have the contestant I’m rooting for: Mrs. Crappy:
Gonzaga vs. Alabama, Purdue vs. Illinois. Illinois beats the Zags for the championship, 82-79.
And now, the rest of yinz guys, pretty much in no particular order:
Strang, who isn’t rolling with her hometown Bonnies:
Final Four: Houston, Texas, Iowa, Ohio State. Championship Game: Houston vs. Texas Winner: Houston (80-77)
Morgantown Socialist Joe:
Final Four: Gonzaga, BYU, Arkansas, West Virginia National Championship: Gonzaga, West Virginia Winner: Gonzaga Tiebreaker: 136
Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl, Esq.:
My FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) picks as selected by pulling my sweet sixteen selections out of a hat: Final Four: Baylor v. WVU, Kansas v. Texas Semi-finals: Kansas v. WVU National Champion: WVU
Aunt Annoyed Angel, who’s been doing this for as long as I have:
Ok, here goes. Final 4: Gonzaga/Alabama, Ohio State/Tennessee. Final 2: Alabama v Ohio State. Winner: Alabama. 73-68I’m well aware that one side of my bracket is very family & personal preference influenced… I just couldn’t get past it no matter how I tried.
And this is a first in the long and storied history of AUCNFFC: Entries from an entire family: AAA’s sister Lianne and the kids who bestowed upon AAA that first A: C and G Haviland.
Ok- here is my info- Final four- Oregon, Baylor, Alabama, Illinois Champ game: Illinois vs Baylor Champion: Illinois (75-68)
final four: Gonzaga, Baylor, Colorado, Houston. Champ game- Gonzaga vs Baylor. Champion- Gonzaga (83-79).
final four- Gonzaga, Baylor, LSU, TN. Champ game: TN vs Gonzaga. Champion- Gonazaga (87-82)
My question for AAA and Lianne: Do the kids have to take you guys out for dinner if one of them wins?
Next up: Cleveland Kelsey, who is as much of a homer as your Uncle Crappy:
FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*)! Final Four: Ohio State, M!ch!g@n, Iowa, West Virginia. OSU/scUM in the championship. OSU wins 72-71
Gonzaga over Michigan. West Virginia over Villanova. Gonzaga 71, West Virginia 63. (If this looks like I haven’t paid any attention to college basketball this season, it’s because I haven’t.)
Kewyson, who apparently discovered brevity somewhere between 2019 and 2021:
With Covid rules in play, one never knows – but I stuck with the tried and true (and no Duke Blue) – M*ch*gan / Iowa – with the Team up North prevailing Illinois / Baylor – with Illinois coming through with the win Final victor goes to Illinois – 87 – 83
Styx 4 Curl Girl, another contestant who’s been doing this for a very long time:
Final four: Gonzaga vs. Alabama, Ohio St. vs. Houston Championship: Alabama vs. Ohio St. Champion: Alabama Tie Breaker: 78-72
Good luck everyone!
What does Chachi say? Chachi Says:
Gonzaga v Texas Houston v Baylor
Final Gonzaga v Baylor
No Cardinals and no Panthers? No problem for Calipanthergrl:
I have watched like 20 minutes of MCBB this entire season. But I’m in! Here are my entirely laughable picks: USC/Michigan & Syracuse/Purdue. Michigan/Purdue. Michigan (84-73)
My #CnCShow partner Carla knows college football. Does she know college hoops as well?
Next up is Dudders, the baddest woman in all of Pittsburgh:
I would like to join that basketball event you host each year! I like to randomly pick teams and not do any research. Final Four: Purdue, WVU, Gonzaga, Alabama. Final Two: Gonzaga and Purdue. Gonzaga❤️
She added in a subsequent message that her tiebreaker is 91-88.
My former colleague North Coast Matt:
Final Four: Gonzaga, Alabama, Houston, Illinois Championship Gonzaga vs. Houston Champion Gonzaga total combined score: 157
Your defending AUCNFFC champ, the Sports Chump:
Against my better judgment, I’m going chalk. Give me all number one seeds in the Final Four.
Illinois, Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan with Gonzaga beating Baylor in the final game 82-67.
But what do I know?
Pgh Rugby Ref has taken over Kewyson’s claim to the most-verbose contestant each year:
The day the brackets came out I completed one quickly, without any research or thought (other than no number 1s in the Final Four). After I looked at my selections, I figured there was no chance of winning (hell, I might even Blutarsky). All week I had the intention of putting in some effort for a real bracket (I’m sure you know about intentions and what road it paves). It’s a little more than an hour before deadline, and no extra work has gone into selections, so you get my original choices: Virginia over Colorado West Virginia over Arkansas Virginia Final score total 124
A blast from the past: M Fulk:
Hey, why not?
Final Four: Kansas vs. Alabama, Purdue vs. West Virginia Championship: Alabama vs. Purdue Champion: Alabama Tie Breaker: 80-85
Spoon, on behalf of his basketball-playing boys:
Kids picked this one. I’ll think about getting them Piper’s if we win.
Final Four: Gonzaga vs. Alabama, Ohio St. vs. Clemson Championship: Alabama vs. Ohio St. Champion: Ohio St. Tie Breaker: 77-75
Susan, who did, in fact, get in just under the wire:
Hopefully getting in under the wire: Iowa, Michigan, Ohio St, Ilinois. Michigan/Ohio St. Michigan. 151. Please do not reject based on my winner.
Dish, who is an actual person and not a restaurant on the South Side:
Gonzaga over Alabama, Illinois over Arkansas. Gonzaga over Illinois, 83-77. I did at least 90 seconds of research for this!
My Penn State friends are partial to hockey and football, but TraiLion paid more attention to the Lions’ hoops season this year than she would probably admit. Her picks:
Ohio State over Illinois, Iowa over Michigan, Iowa over Ohio State (sorry). 112 points.
The lion’s spouse JCK158:
Gonzaga over FSU, Baylor over Illinois, Gonzaga over Baylor, 158.
It’s excellent when you guys provide me with your own nicknames. Right, Scooter (38 seconds from being defending champions)?
Gonzaga, Alabama, Baylor and Illinois Gonzaga and Baylor Baylor 150 F the Mutant Twins
As to Scooter’s final comment: If you know, you know.
And finally, we have Juan, oh he of little basketball knowledge. He is entered each and every year against his will (or, at least, without his awareness); I couldn’t find picks from Phil’s Mom, so we’re going with the virtual version of the Penny-Flipping Method — ESPN’s random bracket generator. And while it’s not going to win him a damn thing, I’m going to be pulling for these picks anyway:
To be clear, this is my Bobcats vs. Texas Southern on one side and Purdue vs. Liberty on the other. And in what would be a championship matchup for the ages, Purdue will beat OU in the title game. And no, I’m not picking a tiebreaker. C’mon now.
And there you go, boys and girls. I have to say that I’m disappointed that I didn’t get any TikTok entries; that might be a thing we’ll work on for 2022. 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. Let’s all enjoy the hell out of the hoopage. And good luck to everyone. Especially me Mrs. Crappy.
If you’re entering the Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*), you’ve got just a little while — noon today, specifically — to get your entries in to me.
If you’re still on the fence about entering, let met remind you of 51 reasons why you should:
$50 for drinks and food from the legendary Piper’s Pub (or if you’re out of town, $50 to spend at your own legendary local restaurant).
A little while after the games tip off at noon, I’ll post the list of our entries, so we can begin following along (and to ensure that I got everyone’s entries, because I usually miss one in the last-minute rush).
It’s been a decade or more since we’ve had a functioning oven in our house. As it turns out, finding a replacement 24-inch gas wall oven is significantly more difficult — and more expensive — than one might expect.
Much of the time, I don’t miss it. And by “much of the time,” I mean I don’t miss it in the summer, when I would be hesitant to turn it on anyway. The rest of the year, though, can be tough. I would totally bake cookies in December if I could. Having an oven could have improved my first crack at smoking a brisket earlier this year. And as the weather starts to cool off, my brain immediately starts craving things I can’t make — casseroles, baked ziti, stuffed shells … and lasagna.
Necessity is the mother of excessive kitchen toys, and at some point a few years back, my craving for lasagna drove me to the internet in search of a solution. And the internet told me that our crock pot could help.
I’ve tinkered with the original recipe to the point that it’s no longer derivative — it’s pretty much my own. And since you guys asked:
What you’ll need:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 jars of spaghetti sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
1 pound of ground beef
1 pound of ground sweet Italian sausage
1 box of lasagna noodles
15 oz tub of ricotta
About 3 cups of shredded mozzarella
About 2 cups of shredded parm
Spices: Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried oregano, parsley flakes, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and a bay leaf
Sugar to taste
What you’ll do:
Dump the cheeses in a mixing bowl and stir until all three are combined evenly. Set aside.
Brown the meats in a skillet, breaking up the large pieces as you go. Drain the fat and set aside.
Sweat the garlic and onions in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a sauce pan. Add the jars of sauce and the seasonings. You’ll add about a tablespoon of each of the spices except salt and black pepper — add just a little of those. Drop in a bay leaf and let it simmer for a half hour. When time’s up, remove the bay leaf, add a little sugar to suit your personal taste and once you’ve got it down, add the meat. I’ll simmer this for a bit too, although with hours to come in the slow cooker, it’s probably not necessary.
Haul out your crock pot and get ready to layer. You’ll go in this order: meat, noodles and cheese, and you’ll have enough stuff to repeat that for three layers. Note that the noodles are just straight out of the box; break them up to fit a full layer each time. The crock pot will take care of cooking them.
Cook on low for four or five hours.
When you’re done, cut out a wedge of lasagna and drop it on your plate. If you’re lucky, you’ll have one whole side of that wedge kind of brown and crisp like those ridiculous brownie pans that are arranged so every piece is an end piece. Make a salad, open a bottle of red wine and go to town.
After watching Texas Tech absolutely lock down Michigan State in Saturday’s semifinal, Sports Chump — if he had been following the possible outcomes of the Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub) — was probably sweating.
Mr. Chump picked a high score in the final, so if it came down to the tiebreaker, his pick was looking a little rough.
The Chump and Scooter From The Land of Suburban Shooting Guards both finished with six points, on the strength of UVA making it to the title game. Scooter’s tiebreaker total was 136 points — a feasible guess as it turned out, given Tech’s defensive strength. Chump’s tiebreaker total was 164 points, which, as previously mentioned, would require more offense than Tech generally allows.
And here’s the interesting thing. At the end of regulation, the score was tied at 68 — or a combined total of 136 points.
Scooter? I’m sorry. You were so close.
But the 26 points scored in overtime gave this year’s TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) title to Sports Chump. I know Mr. Chump is named Chris, and that he lives in the Tampa, Florida, area — Jackets in seven, by the way — but we’ve never met in person. Mr. Chump, the choice is yours — if you’re going to be in Pittsburgh anytime soon, I’ll be happy to offer you tips on spending $50 at Piper’s Pub; if you have a local pub or brewery where fifty bucks might come in handy, I can PayPal you or send you a check — if that’s the case,
email me the pertinent details.
I wasn’t going to do AUCNFFC this year. But once again, it made the tournament more fun than it would be if I were just watching my office brackets go down in flames. Will I do it again next year? Uh. Maybe?
(Will I post anything on Uncle Crappy between now and then? C’mon, guys — let’s not get too crazy here.)
Regardless of what happens here in March 2020, I appreciate your participation, your support, and your lousy basketball picks — I mean, I almost won this thing myself.
I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like the wreckage of Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub), in terms of how many people we’re going to honor with a Blutarsky Award here in just a sec.
Chalky picks only work if the higher seeds win, and the higher seeds failed to do that last weekend. Carolina. Duke. The Aforementioned Basketball School Up North. All dumped on their keisters before making the Final Four.
So who might win this thing? No one — not a single TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) contestants correctly picked the Final Four. But nevertheless, there are a few possibilities:
Four plus (Two correct Final Four picks and the possibility for more points):
Uncle Crappy (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
Two plus (One correct Final Four pick and the possibility for more points):
The Other Scooter
Four and done (Two correct Final Four picks but no more points possible):
Curl Girl Michelle
Two and done (Two correct Final Four picks but no more points possible):
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 Piper’s 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).
So pay attention if you still have points coming — you’re still in this thing.
And then … we have the people who most definitely are not still in this thing. You have managed to achieve the ultimate in college basketball futility … and for that, you deserve an award.
A Blutarsky Award.
Why does a college basketball pool have an award named for a fictional character from Animal House? For this one line, which perfectly describes your TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) performance:
Blutarsky Award winners (No correct Final Four picks and no points):
Aunt Annoyed Angel
Sara Without An H
Thank you for playing, Blutarsky people. And good luck to the rest of you.