The 15th HWCI NCAA Tournament Pool
Sunday, April 5, 2009 Issue # 15.5.2 "A New Look at Our Past" [ Blog | Facebook | Updates ]
BIZARRO LARZBY IS OUR 14TH CHAMP
A retrospective on our 15 years of providing frustration (mainly to ourselves)
CARSON/CERRITOS, CA (smt)- The Big East started off strong (5 teams in Sweet 16) but fizzled in the end with both Final Four teams losing in the Semifinals. So we have a virtual home team in #2MW-Michigan St. facing off the unanimous pre-season # 1, #1S-North Carolina. Hopefully it won't be the 35-point blowout between these teams last December (won by UNC) but a classic like last year's Final between Kansas & Memphis.
Bizarro Larzby used a perfect Final Four to claim the 2009 HWCI NCAA Pool title (his first money spot in 6 tries) and can relax for the final. He's our 14th different champion in the 15 years of the pool. Buckeye23 is guaranteed at least 4th place (if Michigan St. wins) and 2nd if UNC wins, her 2nd win (Bonus in '07). If Michigan St. wins, Little Miss Sunchips will get her first win in 9 years by finishing 2nd, Baba (11 years, 2nd in '08 ($220)) will fight Buckeye23 for 3rd/4th, and The Rat Pack will finish in the money for the first time in 4 tries. Rainman (2 years), AC (1st year), and Buckeye Mike (14 years, $40 bonus in '04) will finish in the money if UNC wins. Eleven still have a chance to win the $40 Bonus by guessing the Big East with 17 wins and will have to wait for the total points in final tiebreaker to see who wins.
There is a trend that when the U.S. economy is holding steady or shrinking, the # of entries goes up year-to-year, and when the economy is growing, the number of entries has held steady or declined. Below is a graph of the # entries per year and the 4-quarter average of the % change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As you can see, the two graphs almost mirror each other, which is eerie.
We have had 914 entries from 231 people in our 15 years of existence. In fifteen years, the pool has steadily (and controllably) grown in size as friends of friends refer friends. In fact, our longest Six Degrees of Scott is: Steve W (Roach Motel) who knows David S (Dr Fun) who knows Roy W (Krispy Kremer) who knows Leonard K who knows Jeff L who knows me (Ides of Fabone). Also, we have 11 online entries from 10 people who, for some reason, trust us. And we have referrals from online entries as well, which is even scarier! At the end of Monday, we will have doled $1,140 to six people and closed out another three weeks of excitement, frustration, cursing, and elation.
A little history....
In 1995, the first year of the pool, just 12 people entered in a modest effort put forth by HW-UCLA and their close friends. Names like BAD ASS and LIVER BOY graced the pool. Of course, their interest was heightened because UCLA was favored to win it all. Indeed, 10 of 12 picked UCLA while 2 picked Kentucky. This pool featured the infamous LOSER WHO DIDN'T PICK UCLA (Dennis K) who set an all-time record (still stands today) with a 14-2 2nd Round to go from tied for 9th to tied for 1st before going 0-7 in the final 3 rounds to finish dead last (12th) with 98 points. TINA'S BOY (Mark C) became the first person to be eliminated when the 2nd round ended. He was, however, one of only 3 people (all in 1995) to correctly pick the two teams in the final and the champion prior to 1999. BIX PIX (Fernando B, 1st, 148) and MR. NELSON (Nelson, 2nd, 146) were the other two and claimed the top two spots, winning $70 and $30, respectively. THE MIGHTY MOBELFAKTA (Dave F, 3rd, 141) claimed third prize worth $20. All but one finished with 110 points or more, the highest scoring pool ever (130.6 avg).
In 1996, 19 people participated in the pool. Without the HW-UCLA guys picking nicknames, we had some boring stuff like JAMES, JOSEPH, and HEATHER. That year, the total points tiebreaker was first used to settle ties. A newcomer, JAYBIAN (Jason S, 1st, 144) rode Kentucky to a first place prize of $110. He also set a record going 8-0 for the 3rd round (still the only person today) and never looked back. BIX PIX TWEY (Fernando B, 5th, 129), hoping to duplicate last year's effort, fell short of winning money thanks to his loyalty to UCLA. JOSEPH (Joseph K, 2nd, 140) and JAMES (James L, 3rd, 139) won $50 and $30, respectively. Six picked Kentucky that year with just as many picking UCLA (who lost to Princeton in the first round- ouch!). This was the first year someone entered twice (Dave F) and ended up 11th (REALISTIC MOBELFAKTA, 113) and 16th (THE MIGHTY MOBELFAKTA, 106). MM and HATE THE DUCKS (Mark C, 12th, 112) became the 2nd and 3rd people to go 0-for-the- Final-Four. HATE THE DUCKS had a 64% chance of winning money heading into the 4th round, and 0% chance after. THE CHEF (Douglas H, 19th, 80) set an all-time low in points for a pool at the time.
In 1997, the first real debate on whether to raise the pool fee to $20 from $10 was raised. Fortunately, it was defeated in a vote. But, three people did plunk down $20 to enter twice as 22 entries were received in the third annual pool. Like Dave F before them, the three people went moneyless (Tuan H- RODERICK (15th, 97) and RHODES (14th, 97); Alvin K- BAD ASS I (4th, 111) and BAD ASS II (18th, 93); and Dennis K- LENNY (6th, 107) and DUKE (12th, 99)). This was also the first year no one picked the correct NCAA champion. Arizona, who usually bowed out in the first or second round, surprised everyone, including Kentucky, in winning the championship in overtime. The #4-SE seed beat three # 1 seeds, the first time that's happened. Twelve had picked Kansas and four North Carolina, neither which made the championship game. MAX (Sean D, 1st, 116) bounced back from a 15th place finish the year before to win the $125 top prize. The Selander brothers took 2nd (Brian S, THE FLYING ELVI, 115) and 3rd (Jason S, JAYBIAIN II, 113) for $60 and $35, respectively. Jason S became the first person to win money twice (1st in 1996). Todd S. (FRODO, 5th, 109) became the first person to lead going into the Final Four and end up with nothing. Just half (11 of 22) finished 100 points or higher.
In 1998, a record 28 entries tried their luck. ANNA COME LATELY (Anna, 1st, 126), the last entry we received, seemed like the least likely to win, picking a Utah over UCLA final. Well, Utah surprised the 27 other entrants (no one else even had them in the Final Four) and gave ANNA COME LATELY the record top prize of $150. James L became the 2nd person to win twice taking the $70 second place prize (CAVEMAN, 2nd, 113) while THE FABONE (Scott T, 3rd, 110) won money for the first time in four tries to take home $40. For the first time, a 4th place prize was created and that went to SCOTTMAN (Scott H, 4th, 108), which was also the first time the tiebreaker played a part in the top spots as he won the 4-way tie for 4th place. With Kentucky's rally and win over Utah in the final, this was the 2nd straight year no one picked the champion. Sixteen pegged UNC while five hoped for an Arizona repeat. UTHOPE (Donald G, 24th, 92) became the 4th person to go 0-7 in the last three rounds. ANNA COME LATELY's 13-point win was the largest margin of victory ever (still stands today). Tuan H once again entered twice with the same results- no money (STRAIGHT BUTTER, 10th, 106 and EN FUEGO, 13th, 104) extending the drought for dual entries to 0-for-5.
In 1999, a record 36 entries (18 NCAA pool newcomers, 13 pool newcomers if you include those who participated in the World Cup Pool) were received with two dual entries (Scott T- THE FABONE V and FREE FABONE and Gareth M- CARSERONI and MAJERUS FOR SDSU). This was the first year the referral program was in effect (free entry for 5 referrals). Mark C (DARKSHARK) became the first person to go 0-for-7 in the Final Four twice (1996). SHARY BOBBINS (Lisa T, 1st, 146) and CARSERONI (Gareth M, 3rd, 120) became the 12th and 13th different people to win HWCI NCAA pool money. Scott T (FREE FABONE) and Gareth M (CARSERONI) broke a streak of winless dual entries with a 2nd and 3rd Place finish in one of their entries. James L (BIG GAME, 5th, 117) bid to go 3-for-3 in winning money came falling down with Duke's stunning loss. Three of four people who picked UConn (29 picked Duke) to win it all won money. Rob C (LUIS ENRIQUE'S ARMADA, 11th, 113) became the first person to pick the correct champion and lose out to someone who didn't (where the correct champion was picked). Fernando B (BIG SPIDER BECK, 4th, 118) had just a 4 in 132 chance to win money and took 4th, his second winning entry ever. Loretta A (TRUE BRUIN, 36th, 67) finished with all-time record low in points at the time.
In 2000, a record-tying 36 entries once again tried their luck as 14 newcomers entered. Sam N (MORALES' MOUNDS, 122 pts) became the sixth different champion after finishing 26th and 31st in the previous two years. He became the first person to either be tied or in the lead after each of the six rounds. After a record breaking first round that saw two people get 30 of 32 first round games correct, the brackets started to fall apart as no one got more than 3 of 8 Sweet Sixteen games correct and eight people went go 0-7 in the Final Four (just six have done so before (117 entries)). Just one #1 and one #2 seed advanced to the Elite Eight. Dave F (THE MIGHTY MOBELFAKTA) returns to the winner's circle with a 2nd Place finish. Scott T (THE FABONE VI) won money for a record third straight pool. Beth S (BETHEON, 36th, 62) shattered the all-time low in points at the time. Fourteen people pegged Michigan St. as the correct champion. Craig E (CRAIGS99) won 4th place in his first pool.
In 2001, a record shattering 59 entries were received by 53 people (21 new people). Robinson C (TEAM SAMURAI) won the biggest prize ever of $280 after finishing 3rd to last (34th) last year. He entered three times and it worked. Three others (Scott T, Mike K, Fernando B) went winless in both of their entries after the last three people to enter twice won money (3-8 overall for those with 2 entries; Robinson is the first 3-time entry-er). Sam N (B-S FC), last year's pool champion, and Dylan R (DYLAN) become just the 3rd and 4th people to not get at least half the games correct. Four people went 0-7 in the Final Four (just 18 people have done so out of 212 entries) with Donald G (UTHPOPE) doing it for the second time (Mark C is the only other person with this dubious distinction). On the flip side, two people (BINGO and PEEPS) became the first-ever entries to predict all four Final Four teams correctly. Eleven different teams were picked to be the champion with 18 picking Stanford, 15 Duke, and 8 Arizona. In addition to Robinson C, Lisa F (ARMIN TAMZARIAN) won for the 2nd time. Bing F (BINGO) took 3rd in his second try and Sam P (JAYHAWK FC) took home 4th. The top 13 finishers all had Duke winning it all.
In 2002, a record breaking 80 entries were received. A hefty 80 entries from 71 people including 29 new people and 42 returnees. Seven people entered twice and one person entered 3 times but only Scott T managed to take home something, his first pool title in 8 years (THE FABON8ER) and largest take ever, $400, giving him a lifetime total of $590 and his 4th win (1 1st, 2 2nd, and 3 3rd place finishes). Jeff H (RANDOM PICKS) had the largest 1st and 2nd round leads ever (4 and 7 pts) and most pts after 2 rounds (90) but had to settle for 2nd. Ann B. (LITTLE ANN) and Paul N. (KAIZEN) took 3rd and 4th, with the 4th Place prize of $70 matching our first ever 1st Place prize of $70 in 1995. In reference to quantity does not equal quality, Gabriel T (GOBAY) and Dan H (HENDO) shattered records for lowest point total (49) and worst 2nd round (3-13). Gabriel also set records for worst 2nd Round Saturday (1-7), worst record in 3rd round (0-8), worst record in last 4 rounds (0-15) at the time. HENDO set a record for least wins (22) and lowest pt total after 2 rounds (45) (both still standing). Eight people failed to get half the games right (just 4 in previous 7 pools) and eight went 0-7 in the last 3 rounds (just 18 in previous 7 pools). 22 entries chose Duke to win it all but all four winners (out of 17) correctly chose Maryland.
In 2003, with the War in Iraq looming that week, 63 valid entries (including a record 47 returnees) from 58 people were received, our second highest total. With some complaints that four prizes weren't enough, we institued our first-ever Bonus Prize of $40 to the entry who picked the winningest conference and number of wins correctly. This allowed 21 extra entries with a chance for money heading into the Final Four. Scott T (THE FABO9ERS) won the prize (11th, 110), his fifth win, pushing his lifetime total to $630. Four people entered twice and none won anything. Cliff T became the first person to enter twice and have both of his entries eliminated after the 2nd Round. Darryn B (BIG LUTHER), in his second pool, took home the first place prize of $280, our 9th different pool champion. John S (MR. WIZARD) and Quang P (KRIMSONGUARD) took home 2nd and 3rd, respectively, their first-ever wins, and the 23rd and 24th different people to win money. Catrina B (BLUEBERRY) had a record-setting perfect first day (16-0) but eventually lost her last 14 games and 26 of the last 31 games to finish in 62nd place. John B (BLOOMERS123) also went 16-0 on the first day but finished 27th. Twelve teams were picked to win it all but the overwhelming choices were Kentucky (32 entries) and Arizona (13) but neither team made it to the Final Four. For the first time since the pool started, 3 #1 seeds lost in the Elite 8, and for the second time, no #1 seed was in the Final. With that disaster Elite 8 round, a record 26 entries went 0-for-the-Final Four, matching the previous eight-year combined total of 26 (in 292 entries). No one had more than 2 Final Four teams correctly picked. Robinson C (TEAM SAMURAI, 63rd, 72) became the 13th entry to not get more than half the games correct. Fern B (GALAXY, 5th, 117) missed money by one point and became just the 2nd entry to get the correct champion (Syracuse) and lose to someone who didn't pick the champion (in years where the correct champion was picked). To add insult to injury, Fern also picked the tiebreaker correctly (which means with one extra point he would have won 4th), just the third person to do so.
In 2004, our 10th anniversary, the pool bounced back and 79 entries were received from 70 people (7 dual entries, 1 3-entries), including a record 54 return entries. Once again, none of the 8 people who entered multiple entries won money. Six different people led after each of the first four days before Bing F (BINGO) took over after Rounds 3 and 4. However, after Round 5, Jeff H (RANDOM PICKS) took the lead pushing Bing F to no higher than 3rd and in the end, became just the second person to lead going into the Final Four and wind up moneyless. For the first-time ever, the pool champion was not crowned after Round 5 and we had to wait til after Monday's game to find out who our Pool champion would be. It was Rick F (FABIO) who took home the $370 top prize and became our 10th different champion. Rick F and Darius B (OMG), who took 2nd Place, were our 25th and 26th different persons to win money. Dave F (THE MIGHTY MOBELFAKTA) took 3rd, his 3rd win ever (total: $230). Jeff H took the 4th place prize of $80, his second win, pushing his win total to $280. Jeff H was also just the third person to ever snatch a money spot away from someone who picked the correct champion (he had Kentucky) beating David S (SHRINER, 5th) by one point. After eight winless years, Mike B. (BUCKEYE MIKE) finally won something, taking home the $40 Bonus Prize. Fourteen different teams were picked to win it all, but 2 of the top 3 didn't make it to the Sweet 16 (Stanford (21) and Kentucky (12)). Duke (16) lost in the Semis but eventual champion UConn was picked by 11. Despite only one #1 seed making the Final Four, 17 entries got 3 of the 4 teams correct. Three entries got less than 32 games correct (16 overall). Twelve went 0-for-the-Final-Four (64 overall). A record 5 people got the tiebreaker exact (just happened three times before).
In 2005, the start of our second decade, 82 entries from 73 people (both records) were submitted, including a record 65 returnees. Of the eight who entered at least twice, two won money. Robinson C became the first two-time HWCI NCAA Pool champion (2001) winning with his FLIP FIGHTERS (140 pts) entry (his 2nd of 3 entries) and taking home a record-tying $400, giving him a grand total of $680 (record) over six years (16 total entries). Roy W entered twice and won with his first entry, KRISPY KREMER, finishing 3rd in his 4th try. First-time online entry Paul T (HOOPGURU) took home 2nd and Patrick N (KING KLITSCHKO) took home 4th, winning a 3-way tiebreaker, in his third try. All four entries (Robinson's 1st entry won last time) were first time winners (the last time this happened was in 1996) and all four correctly picked UNC. The three big teams from the ACC (UNC (19), Duke (11), and Wake Forest (8)) were picked by a combined 38 entries compared to the 27 who picked Illinois to win it all. Wake Forest was the only team picked unanimously to go to the Sweet 16, and of course, they failed to do so. With Duke losing in the Sweet 16, that allowed the Big 10 to have the most conference wins and for the first time, no one won the Bonus Prize. That allowed the top 4 prizes to increase, satisfying the winners. A record nine entries were still alive going into the Final and for the second straight year, the pool champ was undecided. Also, for the first time, not one entry was guaranteed money (only Chuck H's ACE OF SPADES could win in either case but could lose on a tiebreaker, which he did (lost 3-way tie for 4th) going into the Final). Despite just eight top seeds making the Sweet 16 and three making the Elite 8, a record 20 still managed to pick the final two teams (just 25 in 434 previous entries). Four entries were below .500 (20 overall) and four went 0-for-the-Final-Four (68 overall).
In 2006, our website was down for almost 21 hours but that didn't stop us from receiving a record 85 entries from a record 77 people (and a record 71 entries were returnees). The Big East had a record 8 teams in the tourney but only UConn (39) and Villanova (4) were picked to win it all. Duke (19) and hometown UCLA (9) also were favorites. For the second straight year, none of the record-tying nine entries were guaranteed to win money and for the third straight year, the champion was not crowned after the semifinals. Taking home a record $415 was Ken B (GATORS NEVER CHOKE) in his seventh try. Other first-time winners included Jake P (LORENZO MATA) and John C (JINX) who took home $200 and $140, respectively. Pat N (AGENT 86 OF CONTROL) won 4th place for the second straight year ($95) becoming just the 10th multiple winner in our pool (total: $185). No one won the Bonus for the second straight year as the SEC (13), not the Big East, won the most games. For the first time, no #1 seed made the Final Four but five still managed to pick 2 of the 4 teams. However, a record 41 went 0-for-the-Final-Four (just 68 previously) (all-time low average of 0.58 of 4 teams) and nine were below .500 (29 overall). An all-time low average of just 90.8 points were won by our players.
In 2007, travel interrupted Scott & Dave in not getting the site ready til early Monday, but a record 98 entries from a record 83 people (and a record 72 return entries) came pouring in, including 58 on Wednesday alone. This was the year of records as seven of the top 8 teams made the Elite 8. Van P (VAN&SAM) set records for most points (166) and wins (55) and just missed a perfect Last 15 (perfect Elite 8 onward). She is the rare champion who won despite not picking the NCAA winner because she had such a huge lead (the other three winners had Florida as their champ). She won the first place prize of $450 before the Final , snapping a streak of three years where the winner wasn't known before the Final. Ann B (THAI SPICE) took 2nd ($230) for her second win and has won a grand total of $360. Troy B (SNOOP'S DOGS) won for the first time (six years) in taking 3rd place ($155). Don C (DC944) returned for the first time in three years and won 4th ($105). A record-tying 17 entries were still alive going into the Final Four. Four entries had a perfect Elite 8 (just one before) and six had a perfect Final Four (just two before), and 17 had a perfect Final Two, but only VAN&SAM was perfect in all three. The top two picks were Ohio St. (31 picks) and Florida (13) and both made the Final. The pool entrants set records for the best 3rd (70.8%) and 4th rounds (56.6%) ever. For the first time since 1996, the average points went above 110 (121.9). On the other side, four went 0-for-the-Final-Four. The Bonus was tweaked to add a Bonus2, so that someone will win the Bonus Prize of $40 but for the first time in three years, someone correctly picked the winningest conference and wins (Wendy B (BUCKEYE23) which was the SEC with 11 wins.
In 2008, we didn't have a website for almost six months as we lost our free hosting and now had to pay for a server. We got the web up at the end of February and added a blog. We received a record 101 entries from a record-tying 83 people. Amazingly, 80 of the 101 entries were return entries. We had a record 3 people have triple entries and a record 12 dual entries. We started off strong with 39 entries at the end of Tuesday (including a record 19 on Monday) before slowing down to just beat last year's total of 98. Doug H (JUNO INO) became the first person to have a Perfect Final Four twice, and he did so in back-to-back years. With all 4 #1 seeds making the Final Four for the first time (which helped set a record of 2.52 wins in the 4th Round), a record 12 went 4-0 in the Elite 8 and 24 people were still in the running for money after the Elite 8. This was partially helped by the new addition of a 5th place prize (since we had 100+ entries). The top two #1 seeds were UCLA (44 picked to win it all) and UNC (30) but both lost in the semifinals. Kansas' amazing comeback win helped Cliff T (BELUCKY2) become the first person to ever get a perfect Last-7 (all four Final 4 teams + both finalists + champ). The overtime added 17 points (total: 143) which was enough to give Bob G (COBI'S DAD) the tiebreaker and 2nd place ($220) over Doug H (JUNO INO) who took 3rd ($150). The top 3 winners are all first-time winners (Cliff & Bob's 1st wins in 10 pools; Doug's 1st in five pools). Don C (DC944) won 4th place ($100) for the second straight year (total: $205 in 3 pools) winning the tiebreaker over Jeff H (U BETTA BELIEVE IT), who won for the 3rd time (total: $340 in 6 pools) in taking our first-ever 5th place prize ($60). Three of the 7 who picked Kansas won money. The Jayhawk win gave the Big 12 12 wins for the winningest conference title for the second time since 2003. Four people were eligible for the $40 Bonus Prize which was won by Robby D (ARBEDYTHREE), also a first-time winner (4th year). Jake P (QUICKPICK MCGRAW) became the 114th entry to go 0-for-the-Final-Four and is the only entry to ever tie or have the lowest win total in each of the six rounds. This was the third straight year the NCAA Champ has come out of the Midwest Regional.
In 2009, our 15th anniversary, we got a new look for the web, integrating our blog with our homepage, which delayed the brackets until just past midnight Sunday. We also created a HWCI NCAA Facebook group and a person to connect with, Hwci Ncaa. Despite the dour economy (or maybe because of it), we got 114 entries (91 return entries) from 98 people, all records. We started off slow with just 25 entries at the end of Tuesday but then we had a record 62 entries submitted on Wednesday and another record 27 on Thursday. The Big East got a record 3 #1 seeds and a record 5 in the Sweet 16 but none made it to the Final. However it was the non-Big East #1, UNC, which led the way with 36 picking the Tar Heels to win with 3 picking Michigan St. Twenty-one picked Louisville, 18 picked Pitt, and 14 picked Memphis as 3 of the 13 teams chosen to win it all. For the first time, at least one entry went perfect on the first day of the 1st Round (Buckeye Mike (Mike B)), the first day of the 2nd Round (21 tied), the first day of the 3rd Round (2 tied), and the first day of the 4th Round (5 tied). Also, two went 2-0 in the 5th Round and someone will pick the correct champ. Rainman (Ford R) became just the 6th entry to have a Perfect Elite 8 and Bizarro Larzby (Lawrence M) became just the 21st entry to have a perfect Final Four. Bizarro Larzby used a perfect Final Four to claim the HWCI NCAA Pool title (his first money spot in 6 tries) ($495) and our 14th different champion in the 15 years of the pool. He also won with his 2nd entry, just the third time this has happened. Buckeye23 (Wendy B) is guaranteed at least 4th place (if Michigan St. wins) and 2nd if UNC wins, her 2nd win (Bonus in '07). If Michigan St. wins, Little Miss Sunchips (Vi N) will get her first win in 9 years by finishing 2nd, Baba (Bob G, 11 years, 2nd in '08 ($220)) will fight Buckeye23 for 3rd/4th, and The Rat Pack (Steve N) will finish in the money for the first time in 4 tries. Rainman (2 years), AC (Adam C, 1st year), and Buckeye Mike (14 years, $40 bonus in '04) will finish in the money if UNC wins. Eleven still have a chance to win the $40 Bonus by guessing the Big East with 17 wins and will have to wait for the total points in final tiebreaker to see who wins. The Rat Pack will try to become the first person since '06 (when #3-Florida met #2-UCLA) to not get a Finalist correct and win money. Eighteen (18) went 0-for-the-Final-Four (132 total). The average number of wins for the 2nd Round was 12.1 shattering the previous high of 11.1 in 1995.
The latest daily pool information can be found on the official site: http://www.HWCI.com/ncaa.
0-for-the-last-6-years; I do it for love, man...