Issue # 3.1.2 “Not the Expected Upsets” (3/18)


Shepwick leads as 3 most popular upset picks fizzle out

POST-FUNERAL WITH STAY AT HOMIE , ROSEMEAD, CA (smt) – There were three near-shoo-ins of a double-digit seed winning and all three lost today.  Getting outpicked must have been locker room motivation for their opponents as Sweet 16 darling #10S-Loyola Chicago and ACC champ #11E-Virginia Tech crashed hard while #10W-Davidson blew a late 5-point lead.  But three double-digit seeds did win as #10MW-Miami (FL), #11W-Notre Dame (making it 10 out of 11 years a First Four team has won at least two games), and #11MW-Iowa St (against #6MW-LSU who fired their coach) advanced. 

Just missed

No Sister Jean magic this time as the 102-year old had to witness her Loyola Chicago shoot 26.8% from the field, 28.6% from three, and at one time were 1 of 8 from the free throw line in their loss to #7S-Ohio St, giving the Big Ten a confidence boost that would see the Big Ten go 5-0 today (not to be outdone, the Big 12 went 6-0 in the first round).  The Ramblers had made the Sweet 16 in their past two appearances.  Miami committed just 3 turnovers to #7MW-USC’s 18 but had to survive a mid-court go-ahead 3 by USC that just banked off the rim (missing a true buzzer beater), a la Butler’s last shot vs Duke in the ’10 Final.  USC had a chance to go up but missed the front end of a one-and-one late (there were 12 second half lead changes) and Miami then rolled six straight points.

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


International Rescue Committee - Crisis in Ukraine

Sunday, March 13, 2022  **HELP support Ukrainian refugees via International Rescue Committee (deadline Tue 4:00 pm PDT **)

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.

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Issue # 10.4.2 “West Coast Bias” (3/30)

Pac Attack still leads and is guaranteed 5th; record 27 still alive
 to win money

Three Misses at the Buzzer

FREE KRISPY KREME, GARDENA, CA (smt) – #1W-Gonzaga somehow got 10 more shots than #6W-USC eight minutes into the game (5 Trojan turnovers in the first 6 minutes) en route to a 25-8 lead and never let USC get closer than 13 the rest of the way en route to a 85-66 rout.  It was the Bulldogs’ second Final Four (’17) and their 34th straight victory, the last 27 by double digits. 

In the second game, #11E-UCLA used an 18-8 run to end the first half and then blew a 9-point lead before holding on for dear life three times in a 51-49 victory over #1E-Michigan.  One thing with UCLA, if you’re the opponent, you’ll get good looks for threes late – Alabama hit a game-tying three with less than a second left in the last game and Michigan had three good looks in the final seconds.  Trailing by just one and having the last possession, Michigan still decided to shoot a three which was air-balled with 12 seconds left.  Then trailing by just two thanks to a missed free throw, Michigan missed another wide open three with a few seconds left (the Bruins player kept running leaving the open three).  Then, thanks to a review that put 0.5 seconds back on the clock, a great drawn up play set up Michigan for another open three that just banked and missed at the buzzer.

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Issue # 8.3.2 “Bruins & Trojans Joined at the Hip” (3/28)

License to ILL holds on to 3-pt lead while 
only 12 can win pool

Ball grazed off long shorts

RELAXING AT HOME, CA (smt) – The Pac 12 continues to roll on as #11E-UCLA, without its leading scorer who fouled out with 2:27 left in regulation, upset #2E-Alabama in overtime, thanks to the Tide missing 14 of 25 free throws including two with 6 seconds left.  UCLA scored 23 points in overtime after scoring just 25 in the 2nd half.  Alabama trailed 40-29 at the half and made adjustments to roar back to tie it at 40 but then regressed back to long threes and individual efforts again for some reason.  After taking a 58-56 lead, Alabama missed four of their next six free throws, any one make and Bama’s Alex Reese’s near long 3-point buzzer beater (0.4 seconds left) would have been to win instead of a tie.  Or with tighter and shorter shorts.  A big call reversal with 1:54 left that gave the ball back to UCLA after a dribble went off the foot of UCLA but grazed the long shorts of Alabama.  The Bruins will be joined by their cross-town rivals as #6W-USC (10/17 from three-point range) easily won the first battle of Pac 12 teams in the tournament, defeating #7W-Oregon 82-68.

Meanwhile, #1W-Gonzaga shot 60.7% in the first half to torch #5W-Creigthon and #1E-Michigan stifled #4E-Florida St.  The Pac 12’s three teams (at seeds #6, #11, and #12) ties their record in ’01 (USC, Stanford, Arizona).  The ACC has no teams in the Elite 8 for the first time since ’14.  With the extended break (5 days vs 3-4) plus staying in the same city the whole time (vs flying back home), teams came out sluggish and forced the top seeds to pick it up in the second half.

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Issue # 5.2.2 “The Pac 12, Yes, That Pac 12, Dominates” (3/22)

BamaG jumps to 1st but 6 others have better chance to win the pool

USC beats Kansas by 34; Game over w/3.8 sec left
Game over despite 3.8 seconds left

EL SEGUNDO,CA (smt) – Traditional Pac 10 teams #7W-Oregon, #11E-UCLA, and #6W-USC ran all over their opponents while added Pac 12 team (along with Utah) #5E-Colorado got beat handily by #4E-Florida St.  The Pac 12 got four of its 5 teams in the Sweet 16 while the mighty Big Ten (9 teams before First Four) is just left with #1E-Michigan, who had to turn a 5-point second half deficit into a comfortable victory.  Oregon (finally playing after winning the first round by forfeit) broke a 46-46 tie by scoring the last 10 points of the half and never let up against #2W-Iowa, UCLA scored 18 straight points and led by as many as 26 in their win over #14-Abilene Christian, and in a game you had to see to believe, USC scored the last 11 points of the first half and then built as much as a 35-point lead over Oral Rob…, oh wait, over Norfolk St, oh wait, it was #3W-Kansas.  Kansas who had never lost a tournament game by more than 18, got routed by 34.  It was such a shock, the timekeeper left and didn’t even run down the last 3.8 seconds, leaving it to the refs to call mercy and end the game.

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Issue # 3.1.2 “Pac 12 Perfect” (3/20)

License to ILL is 1 of 3 to go 14-2 to lead pool with 52 points

#15 ACU upsets #3 Texas

TORRANCE TAX TIME, CA (smt)- With huge pressure in the final seconds, #13W-Ohio not only hit the front end of the one-and-one, but both free throws twice as those four points were the margin in a 62-58 upset over defending champion #4W-Virginia.  The Cavs, who only flew into Indianapolis yesterday (just in time to take the two COVID-19 tests) led by 7 but were then outscored 14-2.  #14E-Abilene Christian, who was only was eligible for the tourney in ’18 and made it in ’19, forced 23 #3E-Texas turnovers and hit two free throws with two seconds left to prevail 53-52.  Texas was the first Big 12 team to lose (Big 12 went 6-1) had an early second-half 9 point lead but then were outscored 18-4.  While the Big 12 had a blemish, the Pac 12 ended the 1st Round a perfect 5-0 (6-0 if you include the First Four).  #11E-UCLA led wire-to-wire to upset #6E-BYU (I guess the NCAA won’t have to switch Sat/Sun games now), and of course, their 73 points had to be one higher than their cross-town rival #6W-USC, who won easily as well.

Uncontested or a 2-0 win

The big news though was that #10W-VCU had to withdraw from the tourney due to multiple positive tests and gave #7W-Oregon a free pass to the 2nd Round.  It gave 128 entries who picked the Ducks a stress-free evening.  Along with the disappointment, VCU does not know how early they can send the players back home to their families yet.

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IEEE & Rutgers

IEEE, the largest professional engineering society in the world with more than 400,000 members, is headquartered in Piscataway, New Jersey. So at times, when we have IEEE-related meetings, in order for as many staff to help us, we stay in New Brunswick, New Jersey several miles away. Here, is the home of Rutgers University within walking distance from the Hyatt Hotel we have our meetings at. It’s a pretty campus with old classic buildings.

Well, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights may have just secured their first tourney appearance since 1991 guaranteeing that every year of our pool has seen at least one new team. Rutgers’ overtime road win over fellow bubble team Purdue gave them a key 2nd road victory (yes, just 2), a better than .500 Big Ten record (11-9), and their first 20-win season since 1983 to go along with their top 35 NET. Their at-large bid moved from probable First In/Out to just “In”.

Meanwhile, a pair of late 3s provided drama as Utah St secured a berth by beating #5 San Diego St. and USC stunned UCLA by two in their rivalry game. SDSU won their first 26 games before ending the season 4-2. Utah St was likely out but are now in the tourney, meaning one less at-large berth available (since SDSU will get one). UCLA had a chance for the share of the Pac-12 title but fell short, and with their 70s NET and some really bad losses, will need a good showing in the conf tourney to solidify their spot in the First Four In rather than First Four Out. USC is likely in with the win.

Our 26th HWCI NCAA Pool begins next Sunday (yikes, just lost an hour right now… it’s 3 am)!

Congrats to Fullerton!

Well, with UCLA and USC doing well in the Pac 12 tournament, they should be in. But they will be joined by local Cal State Fullerton who beat the other local team, UC Irvine, in the Big West Tournament Final to make the tourney for the 3rd time and first time since 2008.  With the brackets coming out tomorrow, expect our website to be up very late Sunday or early Monday.  As usual, all the rules remain the same ($10/entry, max 3 entries, deadline 9 am PDT Thursday).  Spread the word to your friends and family and let’s see if we can top the 178 entries we got last year.  Feel free to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Issue # 5.2.2 “Finish Strong”


Sunday, March 19, 2017 

King Kobra remains in the lead by 4 points as 45 entries are eliminated

CERRITOS APT (smt)- No single play to discuss today (i.e., no dumb foul, no dumb flagrant-1, no dumb technical), just pure basketball drama.  #1S-UNC and #3MW-Oregon went on a doughnut run with the Tar Heels rallying from 5 down with 2:56 left to score the last 12 points and the Ducks rallying from 4 down with 2:01 left to score the last 7 points to knock off hopefuls #8S-Arkansas and #11MW-Rhode Island, respectively.

Other teams turned it on as well with #3S-UCLA down by one finishing the game on a 33-20 run in the last 13:32, #7MW-Michigan down by two finishing the game on a 24-18 run in the last 9:16, #1MW-Kansas up by one finishing the game on a 36-17 run in the last 12:00, #3E-Baylor down two finishing the game on a 17-11 run in the last 4:42 (a sequence that began with Manu Lecomte scoring 8 points in 45 seconds), and #8E-South Carolina down two finishing on a 42-33 run in the last 12:03. #2S-Kentucky narrowly won the ’14 rematch vs. #10S-Wichita St taking a tie game with 12:15 left and holding on to a three-point win thanks to two gutsy blocks on the final two Shocker possessions.  On the last one, it looked like the Wichita St. player could’ve leaned in to draw a foul on the three-point shot but didn’t.

Comeback kids #11E-USC never trailed by their magic number of 10 (just 9) and took the lead with under 5 minutes to go but couldn’t hold on against Baylor.  #11MW-Rhode Island played well but scored just 26 points in the second half allowing Oregon to rally.  Playing in their home state, South Carolina scored 65 points in the second half against #2E-Duke.

King Kobra increased the lead to four points (96) over Hrosen2 and EEChick1400.  Five went 7-1 for the day with only 9ers in’18 (7th-Tied, 88) getting at least five right the previous day.  Ten went 12-4 for the round.  On the flip side, Continue reading »

Issue # 3.1.2 “Rolling 11s”


Friday, March 17, 2017 

Air Fabone 23 sets record by winning 30 straight games; goes 31-1 for round

Round 1 - RecordsCERRITOS APT/CYPRESS, CA (smt)- If not for the 11 seeds, the tournament has produced very few surprises, and even some of the 11s were not surprises to our pool participants.  For the second time in the tourney and 13th time overall, #11E-USC rallied from a double-digit deficit to win, stunning #6E-SMU.  SMU led 53-43 before losing 66-65 missing a last second buzzer-beating floater.  #11MW-Rhode Island won making it 3-for-3 for the 11 seeds but #6S-Cincy prevented the sweep beating #11S-Kansas St. #10S-Wichita St, by far the most popular upset pick, struggled but won as did #9MW-Michigan St.  #7MW-Michigan St squeaked by while #2S-Kentucky, #3S-UCLA, and #7E-South Carolina used late game spurts to prevent an upset.  #3E-Baylor, #3MW-Oregon, #2MW-Louisville, #1S-UNC, #1MW-Kansas, and #2E-Duke advanced as well.

Another so-called controversial ending as #9S-Seton Hall intentionally fouled #8S-Arkansas in the final with 18.3 seconds left except, the player pushed instead of trying for ball resulting in a flagrant-1 giving the Pirates two shots and the ball.  While most of twitter and TNT host Casey Stern is a complete idiot, ignoring the experts repeatedly stating the trip was NOT part of call (it’s like those political pundits who only focus on a small part of the issue, not the real or big issue, just to make their point), if the player only TRIED for the ball (hit the arm), there is no issue here, even if the Arkansas player tripped and fell hard.  He had plenty of time to adjust and didn’t.  IMHO, this was worse than the intentional foul Vandy committed yesterday since it put Arkansas up two possessions with the ball while the former left a lot of time and still down by one basket.  And as the experts also stated which idiot Stern continued to ignore, the reason the officials called the common foul is that they can change a common foul to a flagrant-1 but they CAN’T change a flagrant-1 to a common foul, so in a game this important, the refs wanted to make sure they got the call right.

Air Fabone 23 kept on winning, eventually getting the first 30 games correct before South Carolina turned up the D and the O turning a close 3-point game into a 20-point blowout in the last ten minutes.  The original records were the first 22 games (Buckeye Mike ’09) and 23 games in a row (The Flying Elvi ’15) (Edit to add: The Swami (4th-Tied, 58) also won the first 23 28 games).  He also went 31-1 for the round breaking the previous reocrd of 30-2 shared by two and leads with 62 pointsSandit and King Kobra are second with 60 points.  With most favorites winning, Quinnsanity (8th-T, 56) went a perfect 16-0 (was tied for 100th yesterday) with 7 others going 15-1.  But three did go 9-7 and three are tied for last with 40 points.

With most favorites winning, only the two who had Maryland lost their champ(picked by locals).  It was worse for Continue reading »

New record set

After 24 games, we have only four upsets, with three of them picked by at least 68 of 178 entries.  Given that, there is only one entry left on top, as Air Fabone 23 (Scott T) has set a record by winning the first 24 games.  The Swami (Rick M) also set the record before Rhode Island’s win with 23 straight (previous was the first 22 wins by Buckeye Mike (Mike B) in 2009).  The 24 straight wins broke The Flying Elvi‘s (Brian S) record of 23 straight during the First Round in 2015.  Blind loyalty to his ala mater USC is the only reason he is still perfect.  USC’s win also kept intact a First Four winner winning a 1st Round game for the 7th straight year.

To root against or for him, his next 8 picks are:  Kansas, Wichita St, Duke, Cincinnati, Michigan St, Kentucky, Marquette, and UCLA (so 3 upsets on deck).

Issue # 3.1.1 “We Missed You 12, Not So Much the Pac 12”


Thursday, March 17, 2016  **LUCK OF THE IRISH**

The Resistance is 6th person to go 16-0 on Day 1; Unofficially, 149 entries

CERRITOS/LOS ALAMITOS, CA (smt)- The 12 seed is a favorite upset pick but last year, in a rarity, all four #12 seeds lost.  This year, they are 2-for-3 as #12MW-Little Rock came back from 13 down with 3:19 left to win in 2 overtimes and #12W-Yale beat a top 25 team for the first time since 1952.  Plus the Bulldogs did us a favor so we didn’t have to see those awful neon #5W-Baylor uniforms.  I thought my daughter marked our TV with a highlighter.  The 12s weren’t the only ones to come back with vengeance as the #9 seeds were shut out last year and are now 3-for-3 with #9MW-Butler, #9S-UConn, and #9E-Providence winning.  The latter  benefited from #8E-USC missing two front ends of a 1-and-1 and inexplicably allowing an open man under the basket with 3 seconds left for the game-winning shot.  While #1E-UNC had only a one point lead at halftime, they pulled away in the second half and fellow 1 seeds MW-Virginia and S-Kansas (105 pts) had easy victories.  #4W-Duke, #4MW-Iowa St, #3S-Miami, #5E-Indiana, #3MW-Utah, #11S-Wichita St (another First Four team who wins a 2nd game, 6th straight year), #11MW-Gonzaga, and #4E-Kentucky were challenged but pulled away.

The Pac 12 imploded going 1-3 with only Utah winning (all 7 teams are top 8 seeds) while the ACC went 3-0.  There were untimely technicals, airballed free throws, final drives where the driver lost the ball, and clutch shots.   The Zags won for the eighth straight 1st round game despite not always getting a high seed.  And we’ll get the rivalry game back, Indiana v Kentucky.

Day 1 Most winsIn the pool, 66 started 4-0, 4 started 8-0, two were 12-0 but only The Resistance (32 pts) managed to go a perfect 16-0, just the sixth person to do so.  With 7 upsets, Continue reading »

Local Represenation

Long Beach St. (despite winning the Big West regular season title easily) may have been knocked out the tournament with its loss in the Big West final, but UC-Santa Barbara will replace them.  In addition to UCSB, UCLA as expected made the tournament but also USC, who will play in the first-ever First Four first round (it’s not a play-in!).  If we go further south, UC-San Diego San Diego St. got a #2 seed in the West giving the Southern California area four teams.

Planning to get the initial email out later tonight and hopefully we’ll get the bracket up Monday morning.

West coast bias?

Where are all the west coast teams, especially the southwest? Maybe San Diego St. Maybe Arizona St. Maybe Santa Barbara. Maybe UNLV. St. Mary’s, Oakland, and Cal are in but they’re in northern California. For the first time since 2004, no USC or UCLA. How will that affect the number entries in our pool with no local team in it?

Edit: This Oakland’s in Michigan…