Issue # 1.0.1 “Back to Normal?” (3/13)


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Our 27th pool is as normal as it gets – same fee, same rules, same heartbreak

NO SCHOOL MASK MANDATE AS OF MARCH 12, CA (smt) – After a year where we didn’t see any blue bloods in the top 8 seeds (with  Duke, Indiana, and Kentucky not even qualifying and only Kansas seeded 7 or better) with the likes of Illinois, Baylor, Houston, Alabama, and Iowa breaking through, this year the blue bloods are out for vengeance with #2W-Duke, #1MW-Kansas, and #2E-Kentucky among the favorites to win it all with #4E-UCLA, #8E-UNC, and #12bE-Indiana also joining the fun.  No longer confined to a single city and partial crowds, the NCAA returns to normal with full capacity crowds across 14 cities and optional masking (though testing before travel is still required).  Just one game (VCU had to forfeit against Oregon) was a no-contest and produced a first-time winner in Baylor.

#1W-Gonzaga repeated as the #1 overall seed (5th time as a 1 seed, third straight (would’ve been 4 if ’20 wasn’t cancelled)) with S-Arizona (who was ineligible last year due to a self-ban), Kansas, and E-Baylor also netting #1 seeds.  This was only the 2nd time two #1 seeds heralded from the Western USA (’00 with Zona and Stanford) and all four are not in the Eastern Time Zone (btw, Happy Daylight Savings).  The Big 12 got two #1 seeds for the first time since ’03 (OK and TX).  The three local teams were spread across regions with #7-USC in the Midwest and #15-Cal State Fullerton in the West.

Bubble team #11E-Virginia Tech not only played spoiler denying Coach K a 16th ACC title in his final year but also likely knocked Oklahoma to last out, by winning 13 of its last 15 games, including 4 in 4 days in the ACC tourney.  #12MW-Richmond’s upset of #10W-Davidson today knocked Dayton out of the tourney (who could have played on their home floor in the First Four).  But somehow #11S-Michigan not only snuck in but avoided the First Four.

Once again, the Big Ten got 9 teams in but unlike last year where 4 were seeded #1 or #2, this year 5 are seeded #7 or worse (and none higher than #3).  The Big Ten also fizzled going 8-9.  The SEC, Big East, and Big 12 got 6 teams in, the ACC 5, and the Mountain West 4.  The Pac 12 got just 3 but last year its five teams won the most games (13) among all conferences.

The top 38 ranked teams in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) made the tourney but so did NET77 #11aS-Rutgers while NET39 Oklahoma and NET40 Xavier did not.  In fact, Xavier wasn’t even on the First Four Out list as that was #69-Dayton, #70-Oklahoma, #71-SMU, and #72-Texas A&M (if any tourney team has to bow out due to COVID-19, these teams would be replacements).

While Gonzaga won the WCC for the 9th time in the past 10 years, #3S-Tennessee won the SEC for the first time since ’79, Iowa won the Big Ten for the first time since ’06, and Virginia Tech won the ACC for the first time since joining in ’04.

As a reminder, like last year, the NCAA won’t re-seed or change the brackets, other than possibly adding replacement teams Monday 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-Boise St and #9W-Memphis 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 BSU/Mem since there is no winner).

27th yearOur HWCI NCAA Pool is our 27th!   Last year we had 165 entries, off second-highest total next to the 178 in 2017.  This is the seventh 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 NFTs).  Deadline is back to 9 a.m. PDT Thursday.  Same point system.  If the winner of any of the First Four 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 Indiana (B10), Rutgers (B10), Wyoming (MWC), or Notre Dame (ACC) wins its First Four game.  Since the Big Ten has 9 teams, the ACC has 5 teams, and the MWC has 4, 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.

[Twitter]We are now on Twitter (@HWCI_Pools) and Discord.  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.). 

PayPalSend money via Venmo (@smt0222)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>” or credit card PayPal payments to “smt0222<at>” (but the entry fee is $10.61 (61 cents in PayPal fees… damn them!)).  Now, you can send money via your Smartphone anGoogle Payd pay no fees!  Use Google Pay’s Send Money function and send your $10 (per entry) to “smt0222<at>” 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>

Last year, Mike M won the pool for the first time in his 6 years playing.  He took home $640 getting both finalists and picking first-time champ Baylor.  Last year we received 165 entries (2nd highest total) from a 101 people (lowest since ’13 when 99 played). 

WHAT:27th Annual HWCI NCAA Tournament Pool
DEADLINE:9:00 a.m. PDT on Thursday, March 19
ENTRY FEE:$10.00 per entry (max 3 entries per person)
PREV CHAMPS:2021- MIZZOUTGR11 2 $640 (165 entries)
2020- No tournament
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 for more info
BLOG:Comment at
NOTES:All fee money goes back into prizesAt least four winners (top prize about 40-50%) (if >=100 entries, 5 winners; if>=125, 6 winners; if>=165, 7 winners)Set points are awarded per game (2/3/4/6/8/12 for the 6 rounds) (no upset weighting)Scott T won the first 30 games in 2017, going 31-1 for the 1st Round.  Rick M won the first 23 games in 2017.Two went 16-0 on the first 1st Round Day 1 in 2003, One did in 2009, Two in 2014, One in 2016, Six in 2017.  Scott T won 43 straight Day 1 games over 4 years (’15-18).HONEY BADGER went 16-0 in 2nd Round in 2019Only 22 people (1 in 2015, 1 in 2009, 12 in 2008, 6 in 2007, 2 in 2001) have picked all 4 Final Four teamsJust 369 of 2,530 entries (14.6%) have picked the correct champion; only years champion not picked: ’97 & ’98Points possible: 196Most points ever: 166 by VAN&SAM in 2007Least points ever: 49 by GOBAY, HENDO in 2002 and MAITAI in 2019

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 18th. Complete rules and daily pool information can be found on the official site:

   Tids & Bits – there have been more than 79 million COVID-19 positive cases (+50m vs last year) with over 967,000 related deaths (+433k vs last year) in the U.S. (455 million cases (+336m) and 6.0 million deaths (+3.4m) worldwide)… 34 states (same as last year) are represented with Texas getting tying a state-record 7 (also 7 last year), California 6, and Alabama and Virginia with 4 each… there are two new teams making our tourney for the first time ever (first-timers #14S-Longwood and #16bS-Bryant) with #14W-Montana St making it for the first time since ’96 and #10E-San Francisco (at-large) making it for the first time since ’98; however Bryant could lose in the First Four and not make the proper 64 like Alabama A&M (’05) and North Florida (’15)… multiple bid conferences:  B10 9 (ties conf record ’21), SEC/BE/B12 6 each, ACC 5, MWC 4, WCC/P12 3, and AAC/A10 2 each… Michigan St makes its 24th straight tourney, all under Coach Izzo… Gonzaga has made the NCAA tournament 23 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 (32 straight overall, missing 1989 due to probation, extending record (was 27 by UNC ’75-’01))… Top seed order: Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas, Baylor… #12aE-Wyoming (43), #11aW-Rutgers (44), #12bE-Indiana, and #11b-ND (47) were the last four in… last 4 teams out were Dayton, Oklahoma, SMU, and Texas A&M — and all will get a #1 seed in the NIT (practice was implemented for 2015’s NIT); the NIT final four returns to NYC’s Madison Square Garden after COVID-19 restrictions had the final outside NYC for the first time ever (Frisco, TX)… Oral Roberts win as a #15 seed (vs Ohio St) last year was the first 15-seed win since ’16… Abilene Christian’s win vs Texas gave the 14 seed its first win since ’16, ending a 3-tourney drought… 13 seeds are 5-7 the past 3 tourneys after going 0-4 3 of prior 4 years… 12 seeds went 1-3 after going 3-1 in ’19… a First Four team won at least two games for the 9th time in 10 years with UCLA the second team to make the Final Four… there are 358 teams (+1, welcome St. Thomas) 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 won the Atlantic Sun tourney but is ineligible, leaving it to regular season champ #15MW-Jacksonville St to take its place), Dixie St, Talerton St, UC San Diego)… 9 teams were ineligible for postseason (surprisingly none due to academics; California Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Bellarmine, Dixie St, Talerton St, UCSD, and newbie St. Thomas making the transition from Division II; Oklahoma St due to corruption)… further, the CAA banned James Madison from their tournament (since they will leave for the Sun Belt next year) and the Horizon League banned Illinois-Chicago for the same reason (MVC) – while both could technically receive an at-large bid, both leagues are now traditional one-bid leagues, meaning just the tournament champion makes March Madness… the Ivy League returned after not playing last year due to COVID-19… NCAA has stated only 5 healthy players are needed to play a game… the First Four returns to Dayton after playing last year in Bloomington and West Lafayette, Indiana… as part of the First Four festivities, IEEE-USA is a sponsor of The Big Hoopla which will host a series of STEM events… #13MW-South Dakota St has won 21 straight and #7E-Murray State 20… odds:  Gonzaga 3:1, Arizona 6:1, Kentucky 8.5:1, Baylor 10:1; ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index (BPI): Gonzaga 23.4% (interestingly, same as last year), Houston 10.2%, Kentucky 8.3%, Tenn 7.7%… for the first time since ’16 (4 tourneys), the MEA doesn’t have to play in the First Four… Arizona has 31 wins while Michigan has 14 losses… #6MW-LSU will be without its head coach due to allegations… First Four features a Texas battle – Texas Southern vs Texas A&M Corpus Christi and winner will go to Texas (Ft Worth) to face Kansas… while last year due to COVID-19, teams only had to play 13 games, this year (despite Omicron) teams had to play the normal 25+… Boise St is 0-7 in the tourney… on NCAA’s big day, the NFL still rules as the breaking news was Tom Brady un-retiring… San Francisco (W), San Antonio (S), Chicago (MW), and Philly (E) host regionals this year…

A perfect game is retiring 27 consecutive batters; 27 years of fun is just as rewarding…

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