not that terrible.

Oh, look — someone from The Simpsons found a copy of Uncle Crappy’s bracket.

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:

  • Strang
  • Trailion

One FF team/champ alive:

  • Susan

Two FF teams alive, champ is out

  • Mrs. Crappy
  • Cleveland Kelsey
  • Kewyson
  • Spoon

Three FF teams alive, champ is out

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Lianne
  • Carla
  • Pgh Rugby Ref

Three FF team/champ alive

  • Socialist Joe
  • Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Mister G
  • Styx 4 Curl Girl
  • Chachi
  • Calipanthergrl
  • Dudders
  • North Coast Matt
  • Sports Chump
  • MFulk
  • Dish
  • JCK158
  • Scooter

And our best of the best, as we go through the second weekend of FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*):

All FF picks/champ still alive

  • Miss C
  • Red Buppy

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.

FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) tip off.

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.

Lianne:

Ok- here is my info- Final four- Oregon, Baylor, Alabama, Illinois Champ game: Illinois vs Baylor Champion: Illinois (75-68)

Miss C:

final four: Gonzaga, Baylor, Colorado, Houston. Champ game- Gonzaga vs Baylor. Champion- Gonzaga (83-79).

Mister G:

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

Red Buppy:

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

Gonzaga 86-79

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?

Gonzaga / Alabama Baylor / Illinois Gonzaga / Illinois Illinois wins 82-78

And, for the record, I have Ohio in the Sweet 16.

Hey, me too!

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.

with or without you.

An NCAA tournament without Coach K and Dook? Eh. We’ll manage.

The Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*) without you? That would be a shame.

But you’re in luck, boys and girls! Unlike years past, the first round of the NCAA tournament doesn’t start until Friday, so instead of this post being a last call of sorts, it is your 24-hour(ish) reminder: Git yer pix in soon.

Important things to remember: It’s free to enter. I just need your final four, your semi-finalists, your champion and a title game final score, to use as a tiebreaker. I’ll need those, submitted via your favorite social media platform (there will be bonus points* for anyone who submits and entry via TikTok), by noon Friday. And if you win, boys and girls, you’ll enjoy $50 of food and beverages from the legendary Piper’s Pub on me (or fifty American dollars, eligible to be exchanged for goods and services, for you out-of-towners).

There are some more rules and guidelines to keep in mind, but in general you won’t find an easier college hoops pool than FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*). Don’t miss out, kids — get your entries in soon.

*Editor’s note: Bonus points are not actually worth anything.

happy.

Yes. I’m aware that it’s only Nov. 17.

Yes. I’m aware that Thanksgiving isn’t for another week.

Here’s the thing. This year has been so miserable that I think we should all be looking for the things that make us happy. Because there hasn’t been a whole lot of happy for a while.

So if that means I completely blow up my traditional starting times for Christmas beers, I don’t care.

So if I call up the soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Spotify in mid-November because I’m driving through a snow squall? Insert shrug emoji here.

And if I decide to put up the Christmas lights on the house eight days before Thanksgiving while listening to Tony Bennett sing Christmas songs in my earbuds? It makes me happy.

And we could all use more of that. Regardless of what the calendar says.

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.