|The Final Four @ North Texas (Arlington) (AT&T Stadium)|
(New York, NY)
CERRITOS, CA (smt)- Well, we were denied the first 40-0 team but we do have a team on a 30-game win streak that went undefeated in the SEC (1st team to do so) in Florida. They are joined by their SEC brethren Kentucky, who matured over the tournament in winning four straight close games by a combined 17 points and beating 3 teams from last year's Final Four. Could they meet in the final?
Well, the last team to beat Florida was UConn, and that is who they are playing in the semifinal. If UConn can get a late lead, they will be hard to catch as they are deadly from the free throw line shooting an incredible 88% (81/92, with one miss intentional). While 3 of 4 UConn opponents were seeded 4 or better, 3 of 4 Florida opponents were seeded 9 or worse.
Wisconsin starts a sophomore, 3 juniors, and a senior while Kentucky starts five freshmen. The Badgers have won a game by 40 points and played an overtime thriller in their last game. Kentucky's road was tough (all four opponents seeded 8 or better) in beating a team that was undefeated (Wichita St), last year's champion (Louisville), and a team that won the Big 10 regular season title (Michigan).
In most years, having Florida, Kentucky, and UConn in the Final Four would not be a surprise. But this year, UConn was a #7 seed and Kentucky a #8 seed and mid-majors were closing in. But it was these Final Four teams, with their tradition of winning, that closed the close games while the mid-majors or non-traditional majors fizzled out.
In our pool, 12 people (yes, despite 16 people entering twice and 9 entering the max three times, no one has more than one entry in the running) are alive to finish in the top 6 money spots. Five can win the pool including: Randy E (Hawkeye), a newcomer who led the first six days; Eric F (ShivaBlast), whose friend the First Four for Charity is benefiting; Karen F (Badzy), whose brother is the pool co-admin (The Mighty Mobelfakta); Benjamin D (Bigtenfan2), our current leader who can't pick up any more points (picked the wrong Big 10 team to win it all); and Rick F (Fabio), a 12-year pool veteran trying to become just the second person to ever win our pool twice. The only scenario where we will know our champion after the semifinals is if Kentucky and Florida win.
As for the Bonus, 37 (39 are eligible, but 2 can't win since he/she will place in a money spot) are fighting for the Bonus1, but if the SEC ends up as the Winningest Conference, more entries will then be eligible to win Bonus2.
For our 4th HWCI NCAA First Four for Charity, we went personal in order to support a friend's (Eric F (ShivaBlast)) friend in need and to bring awareness to Lyme Disease. Friends of Renee is a committee dedicated to bringing awareness to Lyme Disease and to raise money to help pay the medical bills of Renee. We had 22 people enter the contest so I will donate $44 to her cause, but also, thanks the generosity of others, an extra $25 was donated so I will be submitting a $69 donation on behalf of HWCI NCAA.
No one picked all the lower seeded teams (designated away team) and just two picked all the higher seeded teams (designated home team). Four picked Albany/Xavier/Cal Poly SLO/Iowa. No one had a larger point margin than 16 in their picks. 15 picked Albany, 14 picked Xavier, 12 picked Cal Poly SLO (they are 13-19), and 12 picked Tennessee. While five were perfect after Day 1, only Giulio B ended up a perfect 4-0 (the 6th person to do so over 4 years). His 25-point differential is actually the 2nd worst for a winner.Albany, NC State, Cal Poly SLO, and Tennessee all won their First Four games. No one went winless but six went 1-3.
Who is the next charity? ...