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.

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*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?

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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.

 

ok. fine.

North Carolina v Duke

The traffic on Uncle Crappy always seems to bump up a bit about the middle of March, even when I haven’t posted anything here in … let’s see … JESUS CHRIST, NOT SINCE LAST YEAR’S TOURNAMENT ENDED.

Sigh.

I am no longer good at this blogging thing — mostly because that part of my brain is currently occupied by newsletters — but I think I can still run a pretty decent college basketball pool.

(Note: I’m going to be a terrible college basketball bettor this year — as in, even worse than usual — because my only real interest has been in making sure Zion Williamson is healthy when the Cavs draft him in June)

So. Here is your formal announcement of the Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub), or what we’ll refer to as TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP).

If you’ve done this before you know the drill. And if you haven’t (or if you need a refresher)? I present … the drill:

  • Once the tournament is set on Sunday, find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) right now. Print it and fill it out, using whatever method you prefer.
  • After consulting your bracket, pick the four teams — one from each region — that you think will win the regional championships and travel to the Final Four in Minneapolis.
  • After consulting your bracket again, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 6.
  • Consult your bracket once more, and pick the team from your semi-finalists who will win the title game April 8.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Still confused? I’ll be back on Monday with examples, along with a series of nagging posts to make sure I get as many entries as possible. Until then, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • One thing to make sure you don’t do: Send me money to enter. As has always been the case, TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) is free.
  • In the first four years of the contest, we were competing for cheesy trinkets and I usually included a disclaimer that our FABULOUS PRIZES weren’t actually fabulous. And then Chris at Bocktown Beer and Grill blew that out of the water by putting up a gift card to the contest’s winner. As my beloved Bocktowns have since closed — one very big factor in the decision to take a year off — I am putting up a similarly Actually Fabulous Prize — a $50 gift card at Piper’s Pub, on Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side. And I make this promise without any actual knowledge if Piper’s actually offer gift cards. Whatever. We’ll figure it out.
  • Note: If you’re an out-of-town contestant, you may opt for the equivalent cash value of the gift card, which is, uh, approximately $50.
  • The tournament’s real games (the ones that used to be called the first-round games) get underway around 12:15 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, March 21; I’m not a huge stickler, but I’ll need to have your entries by noonish that day for you to be eligible (see the Melo Rule below).
  • How do you enter? Comment. Email. Twitter. DM. Text. Facebook. Carrier pigeon. Please feel free adding whatever commentary you wish regarding how you arrived at your picks; each entry will be listed in a comprehensive post that’ll show up at some point Thursday, not unlike this example from a year ago.

And finally, the fine-printy things:

The Juan Rule: As is tradition, Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge, will once again be entered against his will, using either the Phil’s Mom Method or, if Phil’s mom isn’t picking this year, the Penny-Flipping Method.

The Melo Rule: Should an unforeseen thing happen with a player, a coach or a booster that might, in your opinion, have an impact on your already-completed entry, fear not. You may tinker as much as you like until I close the entries at noon on the tournament’s opening day.

The Crappy Rule: 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). Mrs. Crappy, should she remember to get her entry in on time, does her own work and is therefore eligible to win the Piper’s gift card (as long as she uses it to take me to dinner).

To summarize:

  • Free.
  • Easy.
  • Deadline is noon Thursday.
  • Fifty bucks at Piper’s for the winner.

Have any questions? Let me know. Otherwise, good luck to everyone — especially me Mrs. Crappy.

missions accomplished.

nova confetti

Mission No. 1: ABM, or anybody but (that team up north).

Mission No. 2: The successful completion of Twelve-point-five-th Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub).

As previously mentioned, TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) came down to two teams … and two contestants. If Kansas moved out of the Final Four and won the title, Curl Girl Michelle would have been pregaming July’s Styx show at Post-Gazette First Niagara KeyBank Star Lake with the help of a $50 gift card from our friends at Piper’s.

The other option? A Villanova win, and Jason at Breaking Brews gets to blow that entire fifty bucks at the Piper’s Imperial Breakfast in a couple weeks.

Thanks to my friends at Piper’s for making this thing possible after a year off. Thanks to Mrs. Crappy, who is always willing to give me the time to take care of my AUCNFFC duties. And especially, thanks to you guys for coming back after a hiatus and making this as much fun as it always has been.

And now? Let’s all weep for Jason’s liver as we watch One Shining Moment:

See yinz guys next year.

not terrible. but not great.

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I will say this after calculating the first points in the Twelve-point-five-th Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub): It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

I was expecting a figurative bloodbath. What I got instead is a majority of TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) contestants scoring at least a couple points. And I even got two contestants who correctly picked three of the four actual Final Four teams, a thing that I’m going to go ahead and call miraculous this year.

Oh. And there are a few who are ready to receive this year’s first awards. Including me.

But let’s get to the points first.

If you’re on this list, I have good news and bad news. The good news? You scored two points, a remarkable achievement this season. The bad news? You didn’t pick your correct Final Four team to advance, so you’re done.

  • Sports Chump
  • Slappy White
  • Kewyson
  • Dish
  • Clumberkid
  • The Coochie Doctor
  • Matlock
  • AJ
  • Gina and her dog
  • Scooter
  • President Obama

This one-person list is for those who correctly picked two Final Four teams but had them both losing in the semis. And that one person is:

  • Lorenzo

Next up — contestants who picked just one Final Four team correctly, but can earn another four points in the semis. You’re not going to win, but you should be proud of your effort:

  • Redbuppy
  • Daria
  • Pghrugbyref
  • Calipanthergrl

And then we have contestants who picked just one Final Four team correctly, but can earn another six points if that team wins the title, as they have predicted. An exception effort, but this group can’t catch up with the leaders, even if their points are maxed out.

  • Otimemore
  • Carla
  • JD

One more one-person list, for the guy who picked two Final Four teams but can get just four more points:

  • Father Spoon

And here’s where it gets interesting. This group picked two Final Four teams correctly, and their picks to win the title are both alive. The bad news: their respective championship picks match those who still have more points, meaning even winning out isn’t going to get them caught up.

  • Pghrugbyangel
  • Yay Toast

And then there are two more. These guys are already winners in my book, because picking three of the Final Four teams this year qualifies you as a freaking college basketball savant. And if either Kansas or Villanova wins, I’m pretty sure one of these two will be your TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) champion.

  • Curl Girl Michelle, who picked Kansas
  • Breaking Brews, who picked Villanova

And if Michigan or Loyola wins? Good lord, I have no idea. We’ll find out this weekend.

That accounts for all of our distinguished TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) contestants. And, of course, we’re left with the not-so-distinguished TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) contestants, those whose futility was so magnificent that they deserve awards all their own. Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present this year’s Blutarsky Award Winners:

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Momsbrain
  • Susan
  • HP
  • Diane the Beer Lady
  • Juan

For those of you who are still alive, get ready for a crazy weekend ahead. And for those who are not, thank you for playing — I hope, as always, you got your money’s worth.