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  • Issue # 11.4.3 “Red Light, Green Light” (3/30)

    Posted on March 31st, 2022 - 12:28 am Scott No comments


    Previous Sweet 16 Themes: 14 – Hot tub time machine | 13 – SportsNation |  12 – Amazing Race |  11 – Year-by-Year |  10 – Health Care |  09 – American Cancer Society 08 – Who Is The Mole? | 07 – TV Shows | 06 – Awards ]

    Previous Other Themes/Lists: [ NCAA: 18 – UMBC Chances | Euro: 20 – Avenger’s Infinity Stones | WC: 06 –Les Misérables | 18 – Greatest Showman | Women’s WC: 19 -Women of Star Wars  ]  

    The best TV series in recent memory has lots of lessons to be learned

    Theme – Squid Game

    DELTA SKY WAY OPERATIONAL READINESS TRIAL, LAX TERMINAL 3, CA —  In the surprise hit Netflix show “Squid Game” (오징어 게임), recruiters searched and found 456 players who start out competing for 4.56 billion won.  In the NCAA season, 358 teams start out competing for 68 spots in the tournament.  In the TV show, there are six main games to find a winner(s) while the NCAA tournament features six rounds (not including First Four) to find one winner.  But in both versions, at times you can help each other (build up conference quality for better chance at at-large bids) or hurt others (major upsets), but at a certain point, it’s everyone for themselves (one-bid conference final, tournament time).

    I haven’t done a themed update for the NCAA Pool in 8 years.  As we head to the Final Four, I’m going to reset that clock so here are my thoughts on the pool and tournament, Squid Game-style (note:  I tried to avoid spoilers in this list, but the links below could lead to spoilers)… 

    • Ddakji – This was how the recruiter cornered people into joining Squid Game.  With top recruits having more options (G League, overseas), it would seem to give mid-majors a leg up but hasn’t translated to success.  Even #1E-Kentucky, famous for their one-and-dones, got a bunch of transfers but fell in the 1st round to #15E-St. Peter’s.  The Final Four are all from the big major conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East) whereas last year mid-level conferences AAC, WCC, and Pac-12 made the Final Four.  No Gonzaga.  No Arizona.
    • Jung HoYeon – Squid Game was HoYeon’s first acting gig and she killed it playing a North Korean trying to survive in South Korea.  So well that she actually won a SAG Award for her performance.  In our pool, Sophie B (Barbs) will try to become our first debut champion since another female, Lisa F (Shary Bobbinswon in ’99, 23 years ago.
    • Good rain knows the best time to fall” – From Chinese poet Du Fu, this phrase is uttered by one of the VIPs as it starts to rain and he waits patiently for the final conflict to end.   Of all the times bitter rivals UNC and Duke could’ve met in the tournament over the past 83 years, we had to wait until the right time, the right moment, where legendary Coach K is in his last season and in the high-profile Final Four for the first-ever meeting.  I just thought about that since I don’t watch the college basketball season, this will be my first time seeing these two giants face each other as well.  Yes, good rain indeed.
    • Clause 3 – In Clause 3 that the 456 players sign, the majority of people could vote stop the game. This is actually utilized early on in the show and seemed so predictable and such a “Hollywood” cliché, that I was about to stop watching the show!  But it went the other way, and the show kept producing these clever decisions that went against trope, zigged when most would have zagged, and produced one the most dramatic series I’ve ever seen.  This tournament has also produced such moments that were counter to accepted “truth”, such as this is the year of the Zags, West Coast is back, the ACC had a terrible year, Iowa and Virginia Tech were the sleepers, and Kentucky’s talent will take them to the finals.  Early on, mid-way on the first day, St. Peter’s shocked Kentucky, the ACC put 3 teams in the Elite 8 and two in the Final Four, Iowa and Va Tech crashed in the first round, no West Coast team made it to the Elite 8, and the Zags fell to a big-boy conference team again in the Sweet 16.
    • Glass Stepping Stones –  In this game, players seemingly have a 50/50 chance of landing on the correct clear tile (tempered good, glass bad).  In fact at one point a player calculates that to succeed the next 15 pairs correctly, it was a 1 in 32,768 chance of survival.  The exact number of possibilities heading into the Sweet 16 (15 games left).  While no one had a 1 in 32,768 chance, my Sweet Fabone had just a 2 in 32,768 chance and you can easily imagine that after the first Sweet 16 game, I was kaput.  Picking is not a 50/50 proposition but even if you picked all the top seeds (“by seeding”), in the 27 years (including this year), you would only be in the money once ($60 in ’97).  Once.  So you need to pick a few upsets along the way.
    • Giant piggy bank – Money periodically gets added to a large piggy bank above the players in a visually stunning way.  We don’t have that type of visual in our pool, but we do have a large pot of $1,690 to divvy up between the top 7 plus the bonus winner.   Also, every few days more money gets added to the HWCI First Four for Charity total, now over $680!
    • Dalgona – In this cookie game, if you chose the wrong shape, you needed to think outside the box in order to succeed.  It is not a coincidence that no one in 26 pools who has submitted 3 entries ever finished in the top 2 on their 3rd entry.  It’s usually a thinking outside box entry, going for a sleeper pick, picking some early upsets, or the teams you want to win, not the ones who will win (except for Ken B (Free From Gators) who will always pick Florida to win it all, if they are in the tourney (not this year)).  But this year Stephen I (Mia Culpa) or Tim W (Frost Toasted) could win on their 3rd entry.  I mean who in their right mind would pick #11, two #12s, and #15 in the 1st round or Miami, Houston, and Arkansas to make the Elite 8?  Stephen did.  This outside the box thinking also applies to the cheerleaders (male & female combo) who leapt to rescue a stuck ball on top of the backboard… twice – after failed attempts using mops and other objects.  I’m not sure I’ve seen this happen once.
    • О-Δ-□ –  Circle – Triangle – Square.  That is the hierarchy of the workers in the show via their mask and whose letters represented in Korean (OJM) is short for “Squid Game”.   In the tournament, there are the major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, and I guess grudgingly toss in the Pac-12), the mid-majors (WCC, AAC, MWC, MVC, OVC, Atlantic 10), and the traditional one-bid conferences (the remaining 20 conferences).  Only Houston (AAC) and St. Peter’s (MAAC) broke into the Elite 8 with Gonzaga (WCC) reaching the Sweet 16.  All the other 13 Sweet 16 teams came from the six major conferences.
    • Red Light, Green Light.  In this game, when the big creepy doll turns her head you move forward toward the finish line but when she finished uttering the phrase “mugunghwa kkochi piotsseumnida“, you have to stop or you are eliminated.  In our pool, it was green light until the end of the 2nd round, where it was red light, and 59 entries were eliminated.  Then green light until the red light at the end of Sweet 16 where 77 more entries were eliminated.  Then green light until the red light at the end of the Elite 8 where 15 more entries were eliminated.  Just 18 remain and only 4 can win the pool.  Green light this Saturday!
    • VIPs – The mysterious people who come to watch some of the games seem to have funded part of Squid Games.  The NCAA selection committee aren’t mysterious, but like in Squid Game, they can tinker with the methods as they see fit.  UCLA never seems to get to play in the West Region despite the S-curve (the last time UCLA was in the West Region was ’08), the Big Ten gets a bunch of teams in (and are 0-18 the last two years getting a team to the Final Four), Texas A&M got snubbed (with three Big Ten teams leaping over them, Michigan, Indiana, and Rutgers), snubbed Dayton didn’t get to play at home in the First Four, and conference tournament play doesn’t seem to matter unless you win it, and even that didn’t help Tennessee who got stuck with a #3 seed behind #2 Duke.
    • Tug-of-War – In this game, although brute strength is nice to have, a better strategy can overcome the bad odds.   Despite essentially road games, #11 Iowa St stifled Wisconsin’s 3-point efficiency (missing 20 of their first 21 attempts) in pro-Badger Milwaukee and Villanova shut down Houston’s offense (limiting them to just 44 points) in pro-Cougar San Antonio.  St. Peter’s used great free-throwing to become the first #15 seed to make it to the Elite 8 (85.7% to 65.7% over Kentucky, 74.2% to 64% over Murray St, and 90.5% over 86.7% over Purdue) and the first team to win twice as double-digit underdogs.  #8 North Carolina used offensive rebounds to power their way into the Final Four (15-8 over #4 UCLA including 2 key ones at the end of the game, 14-7 over St. Peter’s) after blowing a 25-point lead to #1 Baylor because their were outrebounded on second chances (16-10).  #4 Arkansas bullied the top team Zags into a rare sub-.500 shooting (37.5%) and 15 turnovers (Zags only had 14 in first two games combined) in their upset. 

    Episode 6, oh my gosh, never felt such heartache and kept thinking there was a “trick” and everything was going to be okay…

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