Sunday, March 14, 2021
Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Fund
(deadline Thu 4:00 pm PDT **)
Issue # 1.0.1 "The Indy 68"
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CAL POLY POMONA VAC SHOT #1, CA (smt)- After the March Sadness of 2020, where the NCAA along with all the sports leagues cancelled their seasons abruptly due to the rising COVID-19 pandemic, March Madness will try again this year, with health protocols and tournament procedures in place to enable completion of the tournament. Soccer showed with the successful summer completions of NWSL's Challenge Cup and the MLS is Back tournament (which was the basis of our 11th HWCI soccer pool) in a location bubble that sports and the COVID-19 can coexist. Going outside a bubble can lead to issues but the NCAA completed more than 80% of their scheduled games (the NFL 100%) and now all teams will descend into the Indianapolis greater area bubble.
The Big Ten got a conference record 9 teams in, including 4 of the top 8 spots but unbeaten Gonzaga (26-0) got the #1 overall seed in the West. Yes, the region names remain the same even though all games will be played in the greater Indianapolis area. Tip times and locations were not announced during the selection show (which started ten minutes late as the Big Ten final went into overtime but took just 27 minutes to reveal the entire bracket) as those came out later. Baylor got the #1 seed in the South while Illinois and Michigan got #1s in the Midwest and East. The other Big Ten teams in the top 8 were #2S-Ohio St and #2W-Iowa. SEC tourney winner #2E-Alabama and AAC tourney winner #2MW-Houston were the other #2 seeds.
The top 41 ranked teams in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) made the tourney but so did NET70 #11bE-Michigan St while NET42 Penn St did not. #11bW-Drake, as the final team in, has the Ivy League to thank, as with them not playing this year due to COVID-19, that allowed one more at-large bid (37) than usual. Saturday's upsets with #12E-Georgetown winning the Big East (were just 9-12 going into the tourney) and #12MW-Oregon St winning the Pac 12 (14-12 going into the tourney) knocked out Louisville and Colorado St, who along with St. Louis and Ole Miss, become the four alternates (in that order) if any tournament team has to withdraw by Tuesday evening. #14S-Colgate played just 15 games but are 14-1 with a 13-game win streak. Three teams played 30 games.
Unexpected tourney winners littered the field starting with the big conferences. #3E-Texas won their first Big 10/12 title ever (last was '95 SWC), Oregon St their first Pac 8/10/12 title ever, Alabama won the SEC tourney for the first time in 30 years ('91), #9MW-Georgia Tech their first ACC title since '93, Illinois won the Big 10 for the first time since '05, Georgetown (Big East) last won a conference championship in '07. Houston (AAC) and #13S-North Texas's (USA) last titles were in '10 and #9E-St. Bonny's (Atlantic 10) last was in '12. Gonzaga, however, has won 8 of the last 9 WCC tournaments, including last year's 2020 edition.
So what has changed in our pool? If all goes well, nothing. Deadline is a day later (Friday vs Thursday) and the NCAA won't re-seed or change the brackets, other than possibly adding replacement teams Tuesday evening. But once the tourney starts, it's win or win by forfeit (uncontested) and you'll still get the points. If the rare case both teams can't play, however the NCAA decides to move a team to the next round gets the points (best mascot?). If the NCAA just vacates the position, no one gets points (e.g., #8W-Oklahoma and #9W-Missouri both are out due to COVID-19 and neither team can play two days later in the 2nd round, and Gonzaga just advances to the Sweet 16, no one will get points for OK/MO since there is no winner).
Our HWCI NCAA Pool is our 26th as we try for a second time after last year was cancelled. Last time (2019) we had 162 entries, off our record of 178 in 2017. This is the sixth year we're using the improved web entry (no more java or Mac issues) and despite all the R&D, the entry fee is still $10 (and although we now accept Google Wallet & Venmo payments, we do not accept Bitcoins, which have fallen on hard times). Deadline is now 9 a.m. PDT Friday (not Thursday) for this year. Same point system. If the winner of any of the First Four (or if there are replacement teams by Tuesday) changes your mind, then you can either update your bracket or email your change (easier to email one or two changes than resubmit a bracket). So you can pick as early as NOW or wait until the last minute.
The only minor change, one no one cares about until the last weekend, is the "Winningest Conference" Bonus. What prints out when you submit your bracket may change depending if UCLA (P12), Michigan St (B10), Wichita St (AAC), or Drake (MVC) wins its First Four game. Since the Big Ten has 9 teams, the Pac 12 has 5 teams, and the American and Missouri Valley with 2 each, it's possible the Winningest Conference could alter slightly, so we your total may be bumped up if you have either of these teams going past the 2nd Round.
We are now on Twitter (@HWCI_Pools). Please follow! I will post using #hwcincaa mini-updates during the day so you can follow without being on Twitter (and if you are, please use #hwcincaa). Please join our Facebook HWCI NCAA Pool Group or post comments on our blog. Here you can join the group and meet your competitors, make new friends, set up NCAA watching gatherings, and post stuff to the wall (pictures, witty comments, etc.).
You can mail your entry fee (email me for snail mail) or give your $10 (per entry) to someone who will give the money to David or Scott. We are accepting PayPal (check or PayPal funds only) to "hwci<at>hotmail.com" or credit card PayPal payments to "smt0222<at>yahoo.com" (but the entry fee is $10.61 (61 cents in PayPal fees... damn them!)). Now, you can send money via your Smartphone and pay no fees! Use Google Pay's Send Money function and send your $10 (per entry) to "smt0222<at>gmail.com" or Venmo (@smt0222)-- just make sure you put your NAME and NICKNAME in the notes section. And if you're having trouble getting your picks in, take a picture of your bracket with your phone and email it to ncaa<at>hwci.com.
Last year (actually 2019), Tom J won the pool for the first time in his 7 years. He took home $645 getting both finalists and picking first-time champ Virginia. Last year we received 162 entries (2nd highest total) from a 111 people (3rd highest total ever).
|WHAT:||26th Annual HWCI NCAA Tournament Pool|
|DEADLINE:||9:00 a.m. PDT on Friday, March 19|
|ENTRY FEE:||$10.00 per entry (max 3 entries per person)|
|PREV CHAMPS:||2019- KDS911 $645 (162
2018- PHILLY EAGLES AGAIN $620 (156)
2017- DBOYZ17 $690 (178)
2016- JJ $595 (149)
2015- BIG LUTHER, $640 (161) -- repeat winner
2014- BADZY, $550 (138)
2013- THE RAT PACK, $530 (131)
2012- QUINNSANITY, $540 (134)
2011- KRISPY KREMER, $515 (125)
2010- BLUE DEVIL BLUES, $500 (117)
2009- BIZARRO LARZBY, $495 (114)
2008- BELUCKY2, $440 (101)
2007- VAN&SAM, $450 (98)
2006- GATORS NEVER CHOKE, $415 (85)
2005- FLIP FIGHTERS, $400 (82) -- repeat winner
2004- FABIO, $370 (79)
2003- BIG LUTHER, $280 (63)
2002- THE FABON8ER, $400 (80)
2001- TEAM SAMURAI, $280 (59)
2000- MORALES' MOUNDS, $180 (36)
1999- SHARY BOBBINS, $180 (36)
1998- ANNA COME LATELY, $150 (28)
1997- MAX, $125 (22)
1996- JAYBIAN, $110 (19)
1995- BIX PIX, $70 (12)
|RULES:||Check http://www.hwci.com/wordpress/?page_id=43 for more info|
|BLOG:||Comment at http://www.HWCI.com/wordpress|
Enter online now! You can also fax your entry to me at (720) 368-0816 or email us for a snail mail address (postmarked by Thursday AM). Make arrangements (such as PayPal, GPay, Venmo) to send in your $10 entry fee(s) by March 20th. Complete rules and daily pool information can be found on the official site: http://www.HWCI.com/ncaa.
Tids & Bits - there have been more than 29 million COVID-19 positive cases with over 534,000 related deaths in the U.S. (119 million cases and 2.6 million deaths worldwide); thanks to Operation Warp Speed, tens of millions of vaccine doses were ready to go (anticipating success and approval) in less than a year but new variants are popping up... 34 states are represented with Texas getting a state-record 7, Virginia 5, and California and New York with 4 each; Purdue was the lone rep from Indiana, the host of the tournament... there are three new teams making our tourney for the first time ever (#10MW-Rutgers (last appearance '91) and first-timers #16S-Hartford and #15W-Grand Canyon) with #16MW-Drexel making it for the first time since '96 and #16bW-Appalachian St for the first time since '00... multiple bid conferences: B10 9 (conf record), B12/ACC 7 each, SEC 6, P12 5, Big East 4, and AAC/A10/MWC/MVC/WCC 2 each... Gonzaga has made the NCAA tournament 22 straight years - despite seeding, the last time the Zags lost in their first game was 2008... Kansas is the only team to be in every one of our pools (31 straight overall, missing 1989 due to probation, extending record (was 27 by UNC '75-'01))... Duke had made the tourney 24 straight years while Kentucky has been in a record 59 tourneys so for the first time since '76 (and last time a team went undefeated (Indiana 32-0)), no Duke or Kentucky in the tournament... Top seed order: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan... #11aE-Michigan St (43), #11bE-UCLA (44), #11aW-Wichita St (45), and #11bW-Drake (48) were the last four in... last 4 teams out were Louisville, Colorado St, St. Louis, and Ole Miss -- and all will get a #1 seed in the NIT (practice was implemented for 2015's NIT), except Louisville declined; also with just a 16-team bracket (vs 32), regular season one-bid champs were not invited; Duke, of course was too good for the NIT and declined as did Xavier, Seton Hall, and St. John's; the NIT final four will not be in NYC's Madison Square Garden for the first time (NIT began in '38)... 14 seeds went 0-4 for the 3rd straight year after having at least 1 win in 3 straight prior years... 13 seeds are 3-5 the past 2 tourneys after going 0-4 3 of prior 4 years... 12 seeds went 3-1 after going 0-4 in '19... a First Four team failed to win at least a Round of 64 game for the first time in 9 tourneys; 7 of the previous 8 came from the Wednesday game... there are 357 teams in 32 conferences and still no team in Alaska... 4 new teams will make the 4-year transition to be eligible for March Madness (in '25) (Bellarmine (who finished 2nd in Atlantic Sun regular season), Dixie St, Talerton St, UC San Diego)... North Alabama, who is in Year 3 of transition, made the Atlantic Sun final (giving #13MW-Liberty the auto-bid before the final was played)... 26 teams were ineligible for postseason (Alabama A&M, Alabama St, Delaware St, and Stephen F Austin due to academics; California Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Bellarmine, Dixie St, Talerton St, and UCSD making the transition from Division II; Arizona and Auburn imposed self-bans; Ivy League (8 teams), Bethune-Cookman, Chicago St, Howard, Maine, and Maryland-Eastern Shore seasons cut due to COVID-19)... NCAA has stated only 5 healthy players are needed to play a game... while many games and teams were lost, 94 of the top 100 teams played at least 20 games during this pandemic... for the first time, the First Four will not be played in Dayton, Ohio (Bloomington and West Lafayette, Indiana, two of the historic gyms in Indiana)... Gonzaga has won 30 straight, San Diego St 14, Colgate 13, and Liberty 12... odds: Gonzaga 2.2:1, Baylor 4:1, Michigan 5.5:1, Illinois 7.5:1; ESPN's College Basketball Power Index (BPI): Gonzaga 23.4%, Baylor 13.5%, Houston 13.2%, Illinois 10.4%... NC Central had won the MEAC 3 straight years but lost all 3 First Four games (MEA is 3-6 overall in FF); now MEAC champ Norfolk St plays in the First Four... Drake has 25 wins while #10E-Maryland has 13 losses... #16aE-Mt. St. Mary's was 8-10 before winning their last four and the NEC tournament... #11bE-UCLA has lost its last 4 games and gets a marquee matchup with #11a-Michigan St in the First Four... legendary coach Rick Pitino took #15E-Iona into the tourney by winning the MAAC tournament (and playing just 17 games), his 5th different team to the Big Dance... Denver (West), Minneapolis (Midwest), Memphis (South), and Brooklyn (East) lost out on Regionals this year; last year, Los Angeles (W), Indianapolis (MW), Houston (S), and New York City (E) lost their Regionals as well as Final Four host Atlanta... four other teams went into the tournament undefeated since '76's Indiana perfect season and only one made it to the final ('79 Indiana St)...
A marathon of pools; 26 years of pools, the last 16 being empty-handed ...