Issue # 2.1.1 “One Bad Pass”


Thursday, March 16, 2023 

A record 194 entries from a record 126 people with 19 teams picked to win it all

HOME, CA (smt) – At least 4S-Virginia can say they are a champion because other than their 2019 title, they have stunk up the pools.  For the second straight time (they missed the tourney last year) they lost to a #13 seed and of course, they remain the only team to lose to a #16 seed (2018).  This time, leading by 2 and with the ball with less than 10 seconds left, a bad hail mary pass (Virginia had a time out!) was easily intercepted by #13S-Furman who quickly nailed a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to win 68-67.  But that wasn’t the biggest shocker as #15S-Princeton (no stranger to shock wins, just ask UCLA) scored the last 9 points to stun #2S-Arizona 59-55.  The Pac 12 champions may be out but the regular season champ #2W-UCLA routed #15-UNC Asheville by 33. 

#5S-San Diego St, #7S-Missouri, #4E-Tennessee, and #1MW-Houston struggled with close wins while #1W-Kansas (though it was tied 33-33), #1S-Alabama, #5E-Duke, #2MW-Texas won by at least 20 points.  #8S-Maryland survived a last second three, #8W-Arkansas never let #9W-Illionois get within 5 in the second half, #9MW-Auburn never let #8MW-Iowa get within 4 in the second half, and #7W-Northwestern never let #10W-Boise St (who are now 0-9 in the tourney) get within 4 in the last 5 minutes.  #10MW-Penn St routed #7MW-Texas A&M as the fourth lower seeded team to win today.

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Admin Picks

It’s that time, time to reveal who the admins have spent their ten bucks on… This is probably the earliest I’ve done both picks (yes, it’s 2:30 am). Need to print these out to see who I picked.

Scott’s 1st entry: The Perfect Fabone – Our 27th year, 27 up, 27 down represents the perfect game by a pitcher. This bracket will be far from perfect though…

Scott’s 2nd entry: All R Picks R Dead – Just got done watching “All of Us are Dead” on Netflix, and although not to the level of the incredible Squid Game, still not your typical zombie show (in a good way) and watch the one-take cafeteria scene in the 2nd episode. Incredible stunt and camera work.

David’s entry: The Mighty Mobelfakta – the same nickname for the 27th straight year.

With two hours left, we are at 150 entries. Good luck to all!

First Four Underway, Deadline Thursday

The tournament is done with its first day with #16aMW-Texas Southern and #12E-Indiana using late strong runs to advance to the proper 64. Whereas last year the Big Ten lost in the First Four (portending what turned out to be a dismal 8-9 record), the first of 2 Big Ten teams in the First Four was successful. #11W-Rutgers plays tomorrow.

We got 22 entries in our 12th HWCI First Four for Charity and 10 got both games correct. With the relative large margins of victory by both teams, Scott D still nailed the Indiana win by 8 exactly and leads with a 4 pt differential. Three went 0-2 with Michael W last with a 27 pt diff. Greg J was 20 pts off of Texas Southern’s 9 pt win.

While we were just short of hitting the 25 entries and triggering a $25 bonus, I’ll still be donating $44 to International Rescue Committee. And if we hit 178 total entries in the pool, another $25 could be donated. But thanks to at least Tom J (last year’s HWCI Euro winnings plus additional tip), Greg P, Ken B, Vi P, Annie F, Spencer T, Ava T, and Linh T, about another $279 will be donated. With my company match, that will blow past the record $460 donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in 2018. Thank you all!

We have 57 entries with an hour left in the day. While we got a record 35 on Monday, the 22 today is our lowest since 19 in 2013 (at least 26 each year since). But still a lot of time and remember the deadline is Thursday at 9 am PDT.

Quirky Email

Just a few notes on an early Tuesday…

  • We got a record 35 entries Monday (was 28 in 2019)… thanks! The most entries we have gotten overall was 178 in 2017. So that’s the goal!
  • Inflation plus PP raising their fees means if you pay by credit card, it’s now $10.87 (up 26 cents).  Don’t worry if you only paid $10.61, I chipped in the extra quarter (received just $9.75).  If you feel really guilty, then please send your 4 First Four winners by 4 pm PDT today so I can chip in $2.00 to help the Ukrainian refugees.  I suggest using Venmo (though choose Personal not Goods)!
  • Several of you may not have gotten an email after submitting your picks.  Gsuite (where ncaa<<at>> is housed) has changed so that might be the issue.  The good news is your bracket was submitted successfully.  The bad news is I have to figure out who you are and won’t get to read any witty comments you put in there.  I’ve done that for 7 of you… but who has the great nickname Rebas Raiders?  Please email me your name.
    • Our great admin David may have found a temp solution so you should get the confirmation emails now.
  • If you didn’t get an email or just want to peak at your bracket, go here:   For the Record – Individual Brackets (

Issue # 2.1.1 “Oral Robs Buckeyes” (3/19)

After a long 2-years, pool back with 2nd most entries ever

15 seed Oral Roberts shocks 2 seed Ohio St

WORK FROM HOME, CA (smt)- #2S-Ohio St was playing one of the best free-throw shooting teams in #15S-Oral Roberts and that was the difference.  Up by two with a one-and-one, the Buckeyes missed (9/18 for the game) allowing Oral Roberts to tie with a couple of free throws (at the time 9/10) to send the game to overtime.  The Golden Eagles jumped to a six-point and lead and held on as Ohio St had a great open look to tie but missed.  Oral Roberts is just the 9th #15 seed to beat a #2, the first since ’16 when Middle Tenn beat Michigan St.  It was not the only upset as #13S-North Texas beat (essentially) host #4S-Purdue in overtime, #12MW-Oregon St, #9S-Wisconsin, and #11MW-Syracuse breezed to victories over #5MW-Tenn, #8-UNC (giving coach Roy Williams his first 1st Round loss ever (29-1); UNC’s last 1st Round loss was in ’99 (17 in a row)), and #6MW-San Diego St, respectively.  #10MW-Rutgers held on in their first appearance since ’91 (and first win since ’83).

UNC had won 17 straight 1st Round games

#7S-Florida blew a late six-point lead, missed 2 free throws to seal the game and had to instead battle and win in overtime.  #3S-Arkansas (though #14S-Colgate did jump to a 33-19 lead but allowed the next 19 points), #1MW-Illinois, #1S-Baylor, #2MW-Houston, and #3MW-West Virginia won easily.  #6S-Texas Tech,  #8MW-Loyola Chicago (welcome back 101-year old Sister Jean!), and #5S-Villanova posted double-digit wins.  #4MW-Oklahoma St held off #13MW-Liberty.

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Madness Begins

For the win… just short. #11aW-Wichita St’s buzzer beater shot hit the front of the rim (but why a 3 point if down by 1?) giving #11bW-Drake its 26th win, tying #1W-Gonzaga. Wichita St blew a second-half 12 point lead, a theme for the night. #16bE-Texas Southern rallied from a second-half 10 point deficit to win by 8. #11bE-UCLA rallied from a second-half 11 point deficit (down by 14 in the first half and by 6 with under 4 minutes left) to shock #11aE-Michigan St in overtime. #16aW-Norfolk St blew a second half 19-point lead but… rallied from their own 6-point deficit to squeak out a one-point win over #16bW-Appalachian St (who missed their first 19 3-point attempts (0/18 3PT but 8/8 FT in first half)). Norfolk St snapped a 3-game MEAC losing streak in the First Four (previous 3 lost by NC A&T) as the MEAC improves to 4-7. UCLA escaped from losing back-to-back First Four games. A great way to start after not having a March Madness game in the past 710 days.

We have 129 entries thus far which is close to our record-breaking pace in 2017 (178) but will likely fall between 155 and 170 entries. We typically have around 100 people and we are at 77, so hopefully at least 23 more before the 9 am PDT deadline.

In the 11th HWCI First Four for Charity contest (17 entries), Mike M anticipated close games for each (by 1 point) to win with a 3-1 record and low 14 point differential. Four were 3-1 and four were 0-4 (Eric F last with 50 pt diff). This was the third time no one went 4-0 (10 contests, last year was just pick the champ). Mike W actually picked two game exactly (Norfolk St by 1 and UCLA by 6) to finish 2nd (20 pt diff). 6 picked Texas Southern, 5 picked Drake, 7 picked Norfolk St, and 6 picked UCLA. All underdogs (by our picks) won.

First Tourney Game in 710 Days

Tipoff! The First Four has tipped off with #16bE-Mount St. Mary’s taking a 10 point halftime lead over #16aE-Texas Southern in front of around 500 fans (and no fake piped in noise on truTV) in Bloomington (the first Opening Round or First Four game not played in Dayton). I like the truTV (lower quality but you can take screenshots, unlike the March Madness app) and their break message – “truTV will return… unless the world ends or something” is hilarious!

We got 17 entries for our free 11th HWCI First Four for Charity contest, the 4th lowest total, but will still raise at least $54 towards the Center for Disaster (CDP) Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund thanks other fellow pool entrants who chipped in.

We got just 15 entries for the 24-hour period between Wed 9 am to Thu 9 am PDT so I have scrunched that period of time so that it can sync back up to what would be the final 24 hour push before the deadline. Below shows the 92 entries we have received thus far at Hour 66 and it is the 2nd highest total behind our record-breaking year in 2017. We’ll see if that trend holds up though.

At Hour 66, 2nd Most Entries Received Thus Far

Issue # 25.1 “25 Years: The Entries”


Wednesday, March 18, 2020  **HELP support Direct Relief’s COVID-19 Response Fund (deadline Thu 9:15 am PDT) **

As deadline nears, we can predict how many entries we might get

EL SEGUNDO, CA (smt)- Could a non-power 5 school such as Dayton, Gonzaga, or San Diego St have won it all?  We’ll never know.  Well, Sportsline ran a simulation and Dayton won (yay, Flyers).  This is the start of a series of updates reflecting on the 25 years of our HWCI NCAA pool and a peak behind the curtain of how the pool is run.  Kind of a nice number to do so, so thanks NCAA for cancelling this year’s tournament due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns.  Whereas pro athletes can wait this out and as leagues have previously self-inflicted on their seasons voluntarily (NBA lockout 8 months in 2011-12 (82->66 game season), NHL lockout 1994-95 (84->48 game season), NHL lockout 2004-05 (cancelling entire season and Stanley Cup), MLB strike in 1994 (cancelling the World Series!), NFL strike 7 weeks in 1982 (16->9 game season)), these amateur athletes have worked hard for years for an opportunity to play in March Madness and will move on to their next phase in life (attempt to go pro, graduate school, the working world).

When CBS (or that awful year it was on TBS) finally gets through announcing the bracket on Selection Sunday, where feasible, David and myself are busy reading up the homepage ( for people to enter their picks.  Sometimes, this is very late Sunday (or very early Monday) and sometimes, like in 2006 where a hard drive crash kept the online entry disabled until 1 pm Monday or in 2014 where java security errors kept the updated form down until 2 am Tuesday, we experience anti-technology days that wreak havoc on our sanity!

Table of entries since 1999
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Issue # 5.2.2 “Comeback Madness” (3/18)


M Star holds onto lead but ChasCroix-2 gets 5 of 8 correct and are 2 of 75 still alive

Cincy had 99.9% win probabilityCERRITOS/GOLETA, CA (smt)- #7S-Nevada was out of gas and down by 22 with 11:36 left but quickly scored 16 straight points in 2:54 en route to a closing 32-8 run to stun #2S-Cincinnati, 75-73.  What did I say in my last update?  Watch out Cincy.  Now the South is without its top 4 seeds in the Sweet 16, the first time a region has done that.  Nevada rallied from 14 down in its first round victory over #10-Texas.  #1W-Xavier had a 12-point lead with 9:50 left and a 9-point lead with 5:37 left but couldn’t hold on as #9W-Florida St 18 of the final 22 points as another #1 seed fell.  #11MW-Syracuse held #3MW-Michigan St without a FG in the last 5:43 (missing 13 shots) to rally from five down to become the fourth First Four team to reach the Sweet 16.  In the battle of low seeds, #9S-Kansas St managed to beat darling #16S-UMBC despite scoring just 50 points.  In this ugly game, the score was 34-33 Kansas St for 3:19 (11:07 to 7:48) and in one 7:15 stretch each team scored just 2 points.  In other games, #2E-Purdue, the only top 4 seed to win today, held off #10E-Butler while #7W-Texas A&M (over #2W-UNC), #5MW-Clemson (led by 41 pts over #4MW-Auburn), and #5E-West Virginia (over #13E-Marshall) rolled to easy wins.

There are the same number of 11 seeds left as 1 seeds (2) and the Sweet 16 will feature two 9 seeds, two 7 seeds, and three 5 seeds.  There are 4 ACC teams (3 in the MW) and 4 Big 12 teams with the SEC and Big Ten getting two each in the Sweet 16.

For the first time since 2012, we had to remove a few entries due to blatant non-payment.  So Bsarty31 (was 65th-T, new and also didn’t pay Jason R’s pool), SK (was 154th-T, referred by Greg P but never responded), CryingJordans (was 8th-T, veteran but second year of not paying), and Full Metal Bracket (was 104th-T, veteran but second year of not paying) are no more.  No one’s fortunes really changed that much though CryingJordans really did have a shot at the title. So our official tally is 156 entries (3rd highest) from 108 people (4th largest).

Despite only one top 4 seed winning today, ChasCroix-2 managed to get 5 of 8 games correct (Purdue, #5E-WVU, #7S-Nevada, #9W-FSU, #11MW-Syracuse), two more than the 23 who got 3 of 8 correct.  He moved from a tie for 58th to a tie for 4th (78 pts).  But M Star (84) still leads Continue reading »

Issue # 2.1.1 “Buffalo Roams, Pac 12 Moans” (3/15)


In our 24th pool, we have 160 entries, our 3rd highest total

Loyola-Chicago near buzzer beaterCERRITOS, CA (smt)- With #1S-Virginia down a top player, it seemed like the journey was made for #4S-Arizona to play with a chip on its shoulder to the Final Four.  But Arizona is a Pac 12 team and with that curse, fell to#13S-Buffalo who won their first tourney game ever.  Just like that, the Pac 12 fizzled 0-3 and matched the horrible post-season showing of its football teams who went 1-8 in bowl games.  Buffalo’s win overshadowed #11S-Loyola-Chicago nailing a 3-pt near buzzer-beater (they put 0.3 sec back on clock) to advance to the Round of 32.  Top seeds had lots of trouble but eventually #4W-Gonzaga, #1MW-Kansas (#16MW-Penn led 21-11 at one point), #5W-Ohio St, #8MW-Seton Hall, #5S-Kentucky, #6W-Houston, #3E-Texas Tech (holding #14E-Stephen F Austin to no FGs in last 5 minutes), and #3W-Michigan were victorious.  #3S-Tennessee, #2MW-Duke, #1E-Villanova, and #6E-Florida had easy wins.  The tourney started with a riveting match that #7MW-Rhode Island pulled out in overtime over a #10MW-Oklahoma team that Trae Young that singlehandedly kept  them in the game.  The other mild upset was #9E-Alabama, despite 15 losses as an at-large pick, winning by 3 over #8E-Virginia Tech.

For our 24th pool, we unofficially have 160 entries from 112 people.  The is our third highest total (behind ’17‘s 178 and ’15‘s 161) and third-highest participation (behind ’17’s 124 and ’15’s 113).  We tied a record with 72 entries (’15) on Wednesday.  We also discovered that the comment section on our form doesn’t go anywhere and that ncaa<at> has a very aggressive spam filter this year.  Growing pains.

Kds911SacKings4Ever, and M Star started off 13-0 but Continue reading »

Welcome to our pool!

Unofficially, we have 160 entries from 112 people.  We should finalize everything by Saturday.  You will notice three new menu items at the top.

Standings – The current pool standings are updated by the next morning (usually late that same day though).

Team Dist – Who did everyone pick to win it all?  18 teams were picked.  How many picked Arizona to make the Final Four?

All Picks – This is everyone’s picks sorted by champion.  You can find out who were the 7 people who picked Buffalo to beat Arizona.  Who is that one person who did not pick Xavier to make the Round of 32?  Amazingly, for the first time ever in 24 years, we have two entries with the exact 63 picks (they differ on total points though).  CryingJordans and AlfordBlows will be forever tied as we move through the tournament.

Soon, the Nicknames will be up so you can see who is who in the pool.  And Your Bracket has been up since Wednesday so you can print out your bracket if you forgot.

The century mark

We just hit another milestone (by 4 pm, or Hour 67), getting our 100th entry courtesy of Alex J’s third entry Jackson’s Picks 3.  The earliest we have ever hit 100 was at 9 pm.  With 100 entries, that is above the pace of our record year in 2016 when we had 74 at this time.  We have received entries from 70 people, though only 8 are new players (welcome!).  It might be that there is no consensus team to win the title but we have already had 10 people submit the maximum of three entries (record:  11 in 2015) while 10 have submitted two entries (record: 26 in 2015).

Though I won’t discourage it (it increases the pot with these extra entries), but in the last 5 years there have 36 37 money spots and only 4 of those winners have won on their 2nd or 3rd entry.  And of the seven winners last year (top 6 + Bonus), all won on their first entry.  So you’re gut instinct is usually the one with the best chance.

Edit – it’s 37 money spots because we also had a tie for the Bonus in 2015 (I already accounted for the tie for 6th in 2012).

First Four Tipoff

It’s 3:40 pm and the first First Four match has tipped off, more than 42 hours after the earliest we have ever got the web entry up (9 pm Sunday).  At this time, we have 54 entries, which is 17 more than our previous best, 37 in 2014.  In our record-setting year of 2016 (161 entries), we had just 27 so we’ve doubled that.   The graph is time-based so, for example, you can see most people are sleeping between hours 25 and 33 (10 pm – 6 am).  The biggest increase in entries will be tomorrow from 9 am until 3 am Thursday (Hours 60 to 78) so that will be a better indication if we will top the 161 entries we had in 2016.

Speaking of topping the record number of entries, if we do that, I’ll donate another $25 to the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, this year’s HWCI NCAA First Four for Charity choice (charity meaning any non-profit).  We did get 16 entries so that’s at least $32 that will go to the conference.  I already got a good lead from Neil O (Dagger) for next year’s charity of choice so I can’t wait.

Also, if you want to see your bracket, you can click on “Your Picks” in the top menu.  These are all unofficial.

Busy Day

We fell short of last year’s record (161) but we have at least 149 entries which is our 2nd highest total ever.  I’ll start posting mini-updates during the day through twitter (#hwciNCAA).  With two 9 seeds winning for the first time in a while and two  12 seeds advancing after last year’s 0-fer, I’ll be posting standings highlights in groups of four.  At the end of each night (sometimes after midnight), the standings will be updated by Dave.

Unofficially, you can check your bracket (and others) here:

Congrats to Vi P

n2016_ff-day2Vi P edged Tom J and Neil O by a point to take the 6th HWCI NCAA First Four for Charity contest.  Six picked all four First Four games correctly but Vi had the lowest point differential.  On the flip side, Scott T finished dead last as one of three to go 1-3 and had a huge 81 point differential.

At midnight, we had 112 entries which is two more than 2014 but 11 less than 2015 at this same time.  Hopefully, we’ll get a flood of entries as the 9 am deadline nears!