The 15th HWCI NCAA Tournament Pool

HW Basketball Logo 2009 HWCI NCAA Pool Update
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Issue # 8.2.4 "Sixteen Reasons to Donate"
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Annual Sweet 16 thoughts centered around "Relay for Life"

EL SEGUNDO/CERRITOS, CA (smt)- So did the selection committee get things right or did they get things too right.  Fourteen of the top 16 teams (including the top 12) are in the Sweet 16 with #5W-Purdue and a well, ya, you have #12MW-Arizona, the last team to make the field of 65 and a controversial decision at the time (still is).  I guess with an interim coach, the Wildcats can act as the "can they do it" team people would be rooting for, but for gosh sakes, it's Arizona.  Boo.  Despite the lack of upsets in the second round, there were several exciting games (which I wished I could've watched), just about all them the evening starts, which tested the top seeds and exposed vulnerabilities. 

All in all, although we love upsets, the lack of upsets has kept just about everyone in the pool alive for the upcoming weekend (and including the Bonus Prize, all entries are alive with a chance to win at least $40) and most wondering why they picked Memphis, Louisville, or Pitt to win it all.  Also, UNC goes for their 99th tourney win, which would make them the winningest school.

I'd like to take an opportunity to push one of the many great causes out there... fighting cancer.  Several of us pool participants (see names at the bottom) have formed a team (Rice Around the Clock) to participate in the American Cancer Society's (ACS's) Relay for Life in Alhambra, CA this May 16-17 in Alhambra Park.  Some of us have done it for a couple of years and it's a 24-hour event (yes, camping!) to honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to the lives we've lost to the disease, and raise money to help fight cancer here in your community.  Celebrate.  Remember.  Fight back.  You are welcome to join us in the festivities if you're in the area, and if you do, please look for Rice Around the Clock, which has almost raised $1,800 on-line thus far.  It'd be cool to meet some of this year's pool participants.  Also, if you have a cause you're fighting for, please let me know and I'd like to make a small donation (as long as it's not the Government Bail-out fund).

Here are 16 bits of info which all have a tie-in to March Madness, of course.

SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS CANCER:  It's a blessing (and curse) that I know far more cancer survivors than those who have succumbed to the disease (such as my uncle and aunt).  It's a blessing because so much progress has been made that we have "survivors" but it's a curse because cancer rates aren't declining as fast as we'd like so more and more are getting cancer.  In the NCAA, NCAA President Myles Brand disclosed he has pancreatic cancer and UConn coach Jim Calhoun has been treated for skin (this season) and prostate cancer. When he missed games for illness in 1999 & 2003, UConn won the championship.  Can UConn deliver again?

NO CORRUPTION:  ACS strives to live by a clearly defined set of goals and ideals while UConn is under investigation for alleged recruiting violations.  Great timing on that story.

LOCAL OFFICES:  The ACS has around 3,400 local offices to help in the community. The pod system worked great for UNC, Duke, and Villanova (poor UCLA) who played near their home arena and wasn't as kind to  Gonzaga (who barely won their 2nd round game against a #12 seed) and Washington (who lost to #5 Purdue) who both played nearby in Portland.

NO ANIMALS:  Relay for Life does not allow you to bring animals (e.g., dog) to walk with (they suggest another team member... hey!).  In the Sweet 16 though, we have 'Cats, Panthers, Tigers, Cardinals, Jayhawks... and yes, dogs (Huskies & Bulldogs).

RECORDS:  We hope this event will set fundraising records.  A few years ago, there were only a handful of teams out there but there are a bunch signed up this year.  In the pool, we set a record with 98 people submitting a record 114 entries, surpassing last year's total by 13.  We will also have a record 1st place prize of $495.

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO HELP THE ACS:  The Gazzelle Group promotes the Coaches vs Cancer classic which has raised $4.5 million since 1996.  The organization also created the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) where teams who didn't make the tournament or the NIT play. On Monday, Oregon St. will play UTEP for the 2nd CBI championship.  See, the Pac 10 may win something after all.  And if you can't make the CBI, there is the CIT which is in its first year and features yesterday's Cinderellas Kent St. and Drake.  I guess next year, AIG will take teams who mismanaged money and awarded bonuses to coaches with 3-26 records into its own 8-team tournament with the winner getting a government bail-out to pay for scholarships they couldn't afford.

TWELVE:  That's the current number of online team members of Rice Around the Clock, half of which are in the pool.  The #12 seeds also dominated, winning 3 of the 4 1st round matches (love those 5/12 matchups) and the one that lost, Northern Iowa nearly nipped Purdue.  Interestingly, we seem to be an astute bunch as 41 picked #12MW-Arizona, 39 picked #12S-Western Kentucky, and 22 picked #12E-Wisconsin, but just 9 picked #12W-Northern Iowa.

C.A.U.T.I.O.N.:  As late as the 1980's (or in case of what I am linking to, 2002), this acronym was used to help explain "Cancer's Danger Signals".  If we had the CAUTION acronym for "March Madness Danger Signals", it would be:

Collecting money on the street for the pool entry fee;
rguing with him/herself;
psets, always looking for upsets;
akes advice from Billy Packer or numerology sites;
ntimidating fellow pool person to not pick Cleve. St. over WF (wait, that was Belucky2 to Getlucky2 :-));
nly speaks in terms of seeding when comparing two or more things;
ever admits to be the lone person to have chosen Florida St. to win it all (sorry, What's Up).

VIRTUAL PASS: Another way to make money for the ACS (via aforementioned Coaches vs Cancer charity) is to become a Facebook fan of Every Pass Counts: Ultimate Assist (search for Wilson Sporting Goods) and making "virtual passes", each pass will have Wilson donating 10 cents.  This is ongoing and will end on April 7.  This was also the first year we put up a Facebook group page for "HWCI NCAA Pool", which already has 38 members including a person named "Hwci Ncaa" :-)

24 HOURS:  The Relay for Life event features a team member on the track for 24 straight hours (which is why we have a lot of team members - that 4 am shift can be brutal!), because cancer never stops, so the relay never stops.  For one 24-hour period (5:10 pm Saturday to 5:10 pm Sunday) of the second round, Gonzaga, Duke, Syracuse, Missouri, Michigan St., and Louisville were nearly upended in the final minutes and #12 Arizona became the lone team seeded 6 or higher to advance to the Sweet 16.

LUMINARIA:  One of the coolest sights in the luminaria ceremony where lighted bags line up the track at night.   A lit candle is placed in each fire-resistant bag which is in honor of or in memory of a friend or loved one who has had cancer.  If you look at the coaches in the Sweet 16, it's an honor roll of current and future Hall of Famers (Boeheim, Calhoun, Williams, Krzyzewski, Olson ('Zona coach who is taking a leave of absence this year, but his team made it), Pitino).

LONG SHOTS:  Some forms of cancer are easier to treat and in some cases, eliminate, but others are more of a long shot of finding treatment due to location, spread of the cancer, etc.  Let's hope for more treatments.  I have not been watching enough basketball to know if the 3-point line being moved back one foot has maybe contributed to the top seeds winning (harder for the lower seeds to come back by hitting more 3's) easier.  In the regular season at least, it was interesting to see a court with 3 3-point lines (women (last year's mens), men, and NBA).  Must be confusing at times.

RESEARCH:  The ACS has invested over $3.3 billion in cancer research, including $146 million in FY 2007 with some significant successes.  In the pool, research led two (Pride of TROY! and Buckeye23 but not Getlucky2) to pick Cleveland St. over Wake Forest and six to pick Arizona in the Sweet 16.  And then there was the shoddy research that led What's Up to pick Robert Morris over Michigan St., Die with SEC! to pick LSU over UNC in the 2nd round (okay, it was his blind devotion to the SEC, but give him a break since his Gators lost in the quarters of the NIT), and Teddy's Teams to pick Texas A&M over UConn.

CELEBRATE:  No buzzer beaters but the Zags almost celebrated too early with 0.9 seconds left after they took the lead while Sienna, Wisconsin, and Western Kentucky provided great upsets in the final seconds.

REMEMBER:  When Gonzaga was a Cinderella team always crashing the Sweet 16 and Arizona was an elite team and never in danger of missing a tournament? 

FIGHT BACK:  Illinois almost came back from a 15-point deficit with 4 1/2 minutes remaining, Western Kentucky from down 7 with 2:14 left to lead the Zags by one (before losing on the last shot), and Clemson erased all but a point of a 15-point deficit in the last six minutes.

You can donate as little as $5.00 to anyone on our team (click on the links) who are also in the pool (Vi N (Little Miss Sunchips), Douglas H (Bail-Out Fund), Quang P (Krimsonguard), Van P (Van&Sam), Linh T (Love SP), Scott T (Ides of Fabone))...


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