Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And Then There Were Three...

Yes, I know that if you have been following this blog for the past couple of weeks as we've traversed through the madness that has been March and the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament you are thinking to yourself that I must not have passed my basic math classes.

The Final Four is now set in Indianapolis this coming Saturday with the likes of perennial powers Duke and Michigan State welcoming a long-awaited return trip from West Virginia and new kid on the block Butler, the hometown favorite who will be playing just 19 miles from its campus.

The journey from 65 to 4 has been a fun one to watch along the way and I would love to read your comments as to what your favorite memories have been so far and also what clips you expect to see in the new version of One Shining Moment when the 2010 champion is crowned on Monday night.

One thing that has made this year's tournament a lot of fun for me personally is having the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest in full effect with 52 of my friends and colleagues along for the ride. It has actually been the ideal way for me to kick off my blog and the premise behind it as I've introduced you to some of the people in my life using the avenue of sports to do it. The $25 gift card prize is a small price to pay to bring people from all walks of my life together.

Speaking of the bracket contest standings (and relating them back to the title of this blog entry), we are now down to three possible scenarios to determine the winner.

Before we get to scenarios, though, here is a quick look at the leaderboard. My wife, Carla (above with our two girls), is not only beating me handily...she is on top in the standings with 750 total points. She was one of three people to correctly pick two of the Final Four teams along with Eric Smith and Stacey Deal. She currently holds a 20-point lead over both Stacey and Sara Williams, who sit at 730 points. Alex Connell is a close fourth at 720 points.

Now, on to the scenarios. The only teams anyone in our bracket contest has remaining are Duke and West Virginia, who will play each other on Saturday night in the national semifinals. If Duke wins that game, then Carla (see her bracket below) will win the bracket contest regardless of who wins the national championship game on Monday since she picked Duke to be the national champion. Several other people picked Duke to win the national title, but none of them can catch Carla in total points.

If West Virginia beats Duke, that opens the door for either Stacey (Stacey's bracket) or Julie Burke (Julie's bracket) to win the overall title. For Stacey to win, she needs West Virginia to lose in the national championship game, while a Mountaineer national title would not only send West Virginia native Julie into a couch-burning tizzy, but also would provide her with some restaurant eating options courtesy of the $25 gift card since she picked WVU to cut down the nets. Michael MacEachern also picked West Virginia to win the title, but he would finish 10 points behind Julie in second place if that happens.

So, while most of us can now throw our brackets out and root for our favorite team left in the tournament, there is still some excitement left as we head into the final weekend of college hoops action. It's been a great journey and I'm glad that each of you has been along for the ride.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Halfway Down the Road to the Final Four

The first two teams advanced to the Final Four in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament on Saturday night. No. 5 Butler extended its winning streak to 24 straight games and punch its first ever ticket to the Final Four by holding off No. 2 Kansas State to earn the right to play basically at home in Indianapolis. Then, No. 2 West Virginia held off No. 1 Kentucky to lock up its first trip to the Final Four in 51 years. The final two spots will be filled on Sunday when No. 1 Duke squares off with No. 3 Baylor and No. 5 Michigan State takes on No. 6 Tennessee. Both games should be a lot of fun to watch.

With the Kentucky and Kansas State losses, only five people out of 53 in the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest have their predicted national champion left. Julie Burke and Michael MacEachern both went with West Virginia, while Mike Schaffer, Toby Boyce, and my wife, Carla, each selected Duke.

Speaking of the bracket contest, Alex Connell (pictured above) has regained the lead in the standings with 720 points despite the fact that he lost his national champion pick when Kansas State went down. In his bracket below, you will see that he picked Baylor to upset Duke on Sunday and West Virginia to advance all the way to the national title game.

Moving into second place with 670 points is my wife, Carla. She is also tied for second place with the most points remaining at 560 with Mike Schaffer and Toby Boyce. Michael MacEachern, the sports information director at Savannah College of Art and Design, has the best chance to win the whole thing as he still has 720 possible points remaining.

Of the 53 people who entered my contest, 35 have now been eliminated from having a shot at the $25 gift card including myself. However, I'm still holding out hope for bragging rights in my own house. For me, it simply comes down to one game tomorrow: Baylor versus Duke. If Baylor can send the final No. 1 seed packing, then I will beat Carla by 10 points. However, if Duke wins, then Carla will make it 11 wins in 18 years in our own personal contest AND she will still have a shot at the overall prize.

On a final note, I have a great opportunity to work at the NCAA women's regional at the University of Dayton on Sunday. Nate Okuley and I are heading down early in the morning and will get to see the machine known as the UCONN women try to extend their record-setting 74-game winning streak against Iowa State and then watch Florida State take on Mississippi State. If you watch the games on the ESPN family of networks, you might just see us working courtside.

Sweet Sixteen is in the Books

The NCAA Tournament continues to march on and the Sweet Sixteen is now in the books after the final four teams advanced to the Elite Eight. St. Mary's and Northern Iowa both saw their Cinderalla runs come to an end with losses to Baylor and Michigan State respectively. Duke downed Purdue in a low-scoring game, and Tennessee used a balanced team attack to sneak by Ohio State, which relied way too heavily on the Evan Turner show to try to get to the next round.

Speaking of the Buckeye game, I'm going to digress for a moment. Yes, I'm a Buckeye fan. It was hard to watch them get out-hustled and out-worked by Tennessee, but I'll give credit where credit is due and say that Tennessee deserved to win that game more than Ohio State did based on those two traits and more importantly better team play. While Evan Turner is a great player and one of the two top candidates for national Player of the Year honors, it takes a team to win a title and last night showed that.

One other comment I would like to make about last night's game is the fact that I really appreciate all the 'congratulatory' texts, tweets, and e-mails on Ohio State's loss. I always find it humorous that people love to rub in the loss of my team despite the fact that their team wasn't even playing in the game or in some cases didn't even qualify for the tournament. I'm not one to talk smack about other teams - I just try to be a fan of my own. I'm always quick to give credit where credit is due (see above for example), and I try not to pile on my friends' misery when one of their teams lose because we'll all be in those shoes more often than not. Oh well, I guess they have to find some way to get their frustration out since their team is no longer playing.

OK, now that I have that off my chest, let's take a quick look at the updated Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest. Sara Williams (pictured above in full character) has regained her 10-point lead over Alex Connell after both of them along with six other people got five of the eight teams correct advancing to the Elite Eight. Sara, whose bracket is below, now has 650 points, while Alex is right behind with 640 points. Mark Colachico is also a close third with 630 points in what is shaping up to be a great race to the finish. Alex has the best chance to win with 880 possible points remaining, while Jay Stancil and Michael MacEachern who are both well back in the standings right now both have 800 possible points remaining and could make a late surge to the title.

We have also reached the point in the contest where we have our first three entrants to be eliminated from title contention based on possible points remaining and their current score. I wanted to give a special shoutout to Nate Okuley, an admissions counselor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and one of my former student workers, Rodney Yoder, an assistant coach for the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women's basketball team, and Rob Oller. a sports writer for the Columbus Dispatch. I wish I had great parting gifts for you, but thank you for your part in making this contest a lot of fun to follow.

Oh, and I almost need to check the leaderboard and compare my point total with that of my wife. That's all I'm saying. Enjoy today's Elite Eight games and see if Gus Johnson gets to call another buzzer beater.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Madness....and then there were 12

Well, if you are like me, you did not get a lot of sleep last night because you were glued to the action as the first day of play in the Sweet Sixteen got under way. No. 5 Butler began the day by sending No. 1 Syracuse packing in a great game and the day concluded with No. 2 Kansas State surviving in double overtime against No. 6 Xavier in an instant classic. Throw in wins by No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 West Virginia and half of the Elite Eight field is set.

One thing that the two great games had in common on Thursday night was the fact that Gus Johnson was the play-by-play announcer for CBS. Gus, who became a trending topic on Twitter last night during the games, has become my favorite March Madness play-by-play guy over the past few years and he always seems to get the upsets or games that go right down to the wire. I'm hoping at some point to interview Gus for this blog and find out more about the man that loves to watch a Cinderalla "rise and fire" and "climb the mountain." For some Gus Johnson fun, check out

A quick look at the Six Degrees of MVNUSID tournament bracket contest shows that Alex Connell (pictured above courtesy of a photo my wife found for me on the internet) has opened up the biggest lead of the contest so far as he now has 600 points to take a 30-point lead on Sara Williams (570 points). Alex correctly picked all four winners along with Matt Miller last night. Sara's one miss happened to be Syracuse, who she had going on to win the national title. Alex's bracket is listed below:

As we start Friday's Sweet Sixteen action, three people with the best shot to win the contest are John White (1,040 possible points remaining), Jennifer Hamerla (1,000 ppr), and Stacey Deal (1,000 ppr), who ironically all picked Ohio State to win it all. For that trio to have a shot, the Buckeyes are going to need a great performance against Tennessee to advance to the Elite Eight.

And, one final note to my wife: Carla, I'm hot on your tail just 30 points behind. I'm going to catch up today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness Continues...Sweet Sixteen Style

Well, it's been a few days since I've updated the blog and the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest standings. I've been trying to get reacquainted with my family and also back into my normal work routine (whatever that is for an SID) after 12 days in Florida with our baseball team.

March Madness will pick back up tonight with four games in the Sweet Sixteen as half the field for the Elite Eight will be determined. There are some interesting upset possibilities with No. 12 Cornell looking to try to knock off No. 1 Kentucky and No. 11 Washington trying to figure out No. 2 West Virginia in a pair of David vs. Goliath match-ups although I won't be shocked if either underdog wins. I also think the No. 2 Kansas State-No. 6 Xavier and No. 1 Syracuse-No. 5 Butler games will be good games to watch, too.

So, back to the bracket contest. First, I need to let all of you know that there were three additional entries in the contest to get us up to 53 total. Andrea Cambern, Stacey Deal, and Sara Williams all turned brackets in to me before the start of the tournament, but just didn't get them on the site for one reason or another. Since I was on the road, I didn't have access to them during last week's blogs, but now that I have them in-hand I feel like I need to get them included. Amazingly, all three have had outstanding runs so far.

First, a look at Andrea's paper bracket (below) shows that she tied Kristin Adams for the best first round total with 26 correct picks out of 32 possible. When I asked Andrea (who is a news anchor at CBS affiliate WBNS Channel 10 in Columbus) what her secret was, she told me that she goes with her favorite uniform when making her choice. Not surprisingly, she has her beloved Ohio State Buckeyes going all the way to a national title. She is tied for second place currently with Alex Connell at 440 total points.

Alex, who is currently a youth pastor at High Street Church of the Nazarene in Springfield, Ohio, has managed a successful bracket so far despite as he says "being relatively uninformed" since he doesn't watch all that much college basketball since cheering on the Cougars back in his days at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He's probably too busy planning for a wedding coming up in October. Here's a look at his bracket:

The second of the late arrivals to the contest is Stacey, who had technical difficulties trying to get a bracket submitted. Her bracket, which I've put below, was submitted online to and is available here, but never made it into our specific group for some reason. Stacey, who is one of my close high school friends and works for Graham & Graham law firm in Zanesville, Ohio, is not leading right now, but she has 410 total points and is poised for a big finish as she could have 7 of the 8 Elite Eight teams and still has all of her Final Four teams intact.

Finally, our leader heading into the Sweet Sixteen is Sara (pictured above with me) with 450 total points. I've listed her bracket below. After getting 25 of 32 right in the first round, she successfully went 10-for-16 in the second round. When I asked Sara (who I've dubbed my SID daughter since meeting her in San Antonio last year at CoSIDA) what her secret was, she told me it was to try to not pick with her heart. As the sports information director at Mid-America Christian University, she's a big Oklahoma State fan located right in the midst of Big 12 Conference territory. The one Big 12 team she had going to the Final Four was Kansas, but so did most of us.

And, as I wrap up, yes, my wife is still beating me handily and tied with Sara and several other people to get 10 picks right in the second round. I have already reserved myself to the fact that I'm going to lose to her in our personal contest. And, she's let me know that ever since I got back from my trip. Gotta love the smack talk!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March Madness and My Wife

Well, it was only a matter of time. It never ceases to amaze me that my wife, Carla, will do better than I do each year in the annual March Madness bracket contest. We've been married for almost 14 years now and dated for nearly four years before that, so this is the 18th year for the annual bracket contest between us of which she has won 10 of the last 17.

First let me backtrack and give you a little background. Carla is the middle of five girls who grew up in Cincinnati. Carla may be a bigger baseball fan than I am (which is saying something) and I know that she's been to more games (especially Reds' ones) than I have. She grew up playing soccer and running track including holding a school record in high school in the 800. She pretty much loves every sport, but more than that she understands them better than some guys do. You couldn't ask for a more sports-minded wife.

We met while in college at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and got married the summer after she graduated in 1996. We have two girls, Ashley (8) and Kylie (soon to be 5). She also works at MVNU in the Institutional Research and Compliance Office.

OK, now back to the contest. I went into this year's bracket thinking that I was going to be able to add to my brief two-year winning streak because Carla hasn't been able to watch all that much college basketball this year due to spending so much time with our girls when I have to work late evenings which happens a lot. I thought I made some good picks, so I was confident that the winning streak would continue.

Boy, could I have been more wrong. I had a horrible first day with all the upsets as I got just eight picks right. However, when I followed that up by going 14-for-16 the second day to trail her by just one, I thought that maybe there was a chance.

Then, along came yesterday and the start of the second round. Carla proceeded to go 6-for-8 missing just the upset of No. 1 Kansas (along with nearly three million other people) and No. 11 Washington's win over No. 3 New Mexico. Those picks not only vaulted her well ahead of me, but right to the top of our 50-person contest. I received numerous messages from friends asking if it was rigged and also just laughing at me for my ineptness and her success. It was brutal, but pretty funny at the same time.

When I asked Carla what her strategy was, she told me that she looked for teams that were playing their best basketball at the end of the year. For example, she picked No. 10 St. Mary's to be right where they are and even to move on to the Elite Eight. Obviously, it paid off for her. She also did not have Kansas winning the title like 23 of the 50 of us in our contest did, so she is still safe there as well. All I can say is that my wife is pretty smart when it comes to sports and I'll look forward to seeing if she can win this whole thing and beat not just me, but the rest of you as well. Her bracket is below:

Two other people deserve a shoutout for getting 5-of-8 right yesterday and that's Jason Bean and Eric Smith. Also, a shoutout to John White and Jennifer Hamerla for still having the most possible points remaining.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Madness - Day 2 Recap

Well, the first round of the NCAA Tournament is now in the books and what a round it was. Thursday's action featured an upset at seemingly every turn and then Friday's games played out more true to seed with a few minor surprises along the way. If your bracket took a beating like mine did, don't feel bad. reports that out of the nearly 4.8 million brackets filled out online that not a single one made it through the first round unscathed. In fact, only three brackets finished 31-for-32 and I'm amazed that anyone could be that lucky or good.

As has been the case at each stop of the bracket contest so far, we have a new leader on top of my pool's standings - Kristin Adams, a 2005 Georgetown alum and the newest member of the Digital Royalty team. Kristin correctly picked 26 of the 32 first round games and has a one-pick lead over seven people (Mark Colachico, Julie Burke, Tim Cary, Kyle Schwerin, Wade Foley, Steve Miller, and Troy Current).

A look at Kristin's bracket (below) shows that she went fairly conservative in the first round to have the success that she did although she did pick all three No. 10 seed upset winners Georgia Tech, St. Mary's, and Missouri. Unfortunately for Kristin, though, her beloved Hoyas bowed out in the first round to No. 14 Ohio and she had picked them to go all the way to Indianapolis to cut down the nets. (Note: I personally think the hardest part of picking a bracket is figuring out how to keep your heart out of it, especially when the team you like is good and has a shot at going really deep into the tournament.)

In other notes regarding our tournament bracket contest, I'm pleased to report that I went 14-for-16 on Day 2 to make up for a horrible 8-for-16 Day 1. However, I still trail my wife by one pick as we enter the second round. How does she do it? It's also interesting to check out the column of possible points remaining as it shows who still has a legitimate chance to compete for the bracket title. While Kristin is in first place right now, she actually has the worst chance of winning the $25 gift card now as she's the first person in the 50-person contest to lose their eventual national champion. Meanwhile, Eric Smith, who is dead last with only 19 correct first round picks, is tied with five other people including my wife for the best chance to win based on most possible points remaining. It should be an interesting race.

Well, it's almost time to sit back and watch the second round get under way. I have a feeling we could see another upset or two today and I wouldn't be all that surprised if all five of the double digit seeds pull another upset and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. I can't wait to watch the Madness again!

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Madness - Halfway Through Day 2

Well, we've entered the second day of the greatest tournament on earth and I have to admit that so far I'm feeling a little letdown from all the craziness that took place yesterday. Sure, we've had No. 10 Missouri and No. 12 Cornell both pulling mild upsets, but without No. 13 Wofford being able to finish off No. 4 Wisconsin it just doesn't seem quite as exciting as yesterday.

We have a new leader atop the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest leaderboard after 24 games and it is Steve Miller. Steve, who is a junior pitcher on the Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team and a fellow Duke fan, has moved on top with 19 correct picks out of 24 possible ones. He's got a one-pick lead on eight other people, so it's shaping up to be quite a race.

I asked Steve what his secret was and he told me that the key is to "not overthink your picks." It's been fun watching some of the games with him while sitting in the hotel, and he definitely put a lot of thought into his bracket. Time will tell if it pays off for him. I've attached his bracket below.

After a very poor 8-for-16 showing yesterday, I'm pleased to say that I got all eight of the first half of today's picks right to move up to a more respectable 16-for-24 overall. And, even better, I have managed to move into a tie with my wife in the all-important race for bragging rights in our house.

A couple of side notes about the tournament. I've enjoyed exchanging tweets with CBS's Seth Davis the past two days and appreciate the fact that he's actually responded. It makes watching the tournament even more fun. Also, I know that two people in this contest are at the games in Milwaukee today. Watch out for Gail Sideman on press row and Eric Smith in the stands. I hope you guys are enjoying the games in person. I'm very jealous.

Well, let's see what happens with tonight's games as the Madness continues.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What a Day of Madness - Day 1 Recap

Well, the first day of the NCAA Tournament is now in the books and it was definitely a day of drama as the first 16 games featured buzzer beaters, three overtime games (one more than all of last year), seven of the 16 games being won by the higher seed, and eight of the 16 games being decided by five points or less. All in all, it definitely lived up to its name - March Madness.

One of the biggest shockers of the evening session came when my dad's alma mater No. 14 Ohio University shocked No. 3 Georgetown 97-83 to give the Big East a 1-3 record on the day. No. 9 Wake Forest also overcame an eight-point deficit in overtime to post an 81-80 victory over No. 8 Texas. The two No. 1 seeds that played flexed their muscles as Kansas and Kentucky both cruised to easy wins.

What will tomorrow's action hold as 16 more games will tip off just after noon ET again? Hopefully just as much excitement and drama as today. I enjoyed having a rare day off to just sit back and be a fan, and I'll have to try to keep updated tomorrow while working our baseball games during the afternoon before watching all the evening games.

With 16 games in the books and so many upsets, I am pleased to congratulate Troy Current (pictured above with his fiancee) as the leader in the clubhouse after the first day in my bracket contest. Troy is one of my former student workers and a current Mount Vernon Nazarene University admissions counselor. Maybe working courtside at all those Cougar games gave him all the experience he needed to become a bracketology expert. Obviously it's not helping me if you check out my personal bracket.

Troy successfully picked 13 of the 16 games and only missed on Georgetown, Vanderbilt, and Montana. When I asked Troy what his strategy was with his bracket, he told me that he did a lot of research on before filling it out. Obviously, all that research has paid off so far. An avid Buckeye fan, Troy only let his heart carry him so far as he has the Buckeyes falling to Kansas in the Elite Eight. (See his complete bracket below.)

In addition to Troy's success, I want to give a shoutout to the people currently breathing right down his neck in a tie for second place having correctly picked 12 of the first 16 games: Ryan Halley, Julie Burke, Michael MacEachern, Matt Miller, James Mummert, and Steve Miller. And while not leading the pack, two other sleepers to watch for our my wife, Carla Parsons, and Eric Smith, who both still have the potential to earn the most points if the rest of their picks are correct.

Speaking of my wife, I need to just admit that my brief two-year winning streak in our own personal bracket contest is well on its way to coming to a screeching halt as she correctly picked 11 of the 16 games right on Thursday, while I was a dismal 8-for-16. However, if she wins, am I really a loser since I still get to go out to dinner with her? She just gets the bragging rights once again, but what's new since it's been that way in 10 of the past 17 years anyway. Just proud to say that I have a great wife who knows her sports.

Well, time to get some sleep so that I can wake up and enjoy the madness again tomorrow. I can't wait to see which games Gus Johnson is calling.

March Madness - Day 1 Halfway Point

Well, we reached the halfway point of the first day of March Madness with eight games in the books. After a quick dinner break where I actually left my hotel room for the first time (I'm traveling with our college baseball team and we conveniently had an off-day today), I decided to recap a little bit of what's happened so far. I also wanted to give a shoutout to Matt Miller, who was the only person in my bracket contest who correctly picked the first eight games.

Matt, who is a 2004 grad of Mount Vernon Nazarene University and currently teaches seventh and eighth grade and coaches basketball at Faith Christian Academy, told me that he went with his gut when making his picks in the bracket (which I've attached below). While an Ohio State fan, he didn't go with his heart as he only took the Buckeyes as far as the Elite Eight. He also said that he got in five different pools this year and was attracted to mine because (1) it was free and (2) he could win a $25 gift card. Whatever it was, I'm glad he decided to join in.

Very few people nationally picked the first eight games correctly as there were three upsets that included No. 13 Murray State with a 66-65 win over No. 4 Vanderbilt for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1959, No. 11 Old Dominion with a 51-50 win over No. 6 Notre Dame, and No. 10 St. Mary's 80-71 win over No. 7 Richmond. Throw in Baylor's first NCAA Tournament win since 1950, BYU's double-overtime thriller over Florida that included 37 points from Jimmer Fredette, and Villanova's overtime escape from Robert Morris and it's already been an exciting first half of the day.

I would also like to give a special shoutout to Jessica Lantz and Jason Pitman, who both correctly picked the first seven games along with Matt before suffering their first loss when Butler beat Texas-El Paso. Five other people are also tied for second place with seven out of eight correct picks.

Stay tuned for more updates and enjoy the madness that might even include an Ohio University upset of Georgetown as the No. 14 Bobcats were up 12 points at the half.

Let the Madness Begin

At 12:20 p.m. ET today, March Madness tipped off with No. 7 BYU taking on No. 10 Florida to begin the exciting first round of action. The first three games featured great action and storylines. No. 11 Old Dominion knocked off No. 6 Notre Dame 51-50. Jimmer Fredette scored 37 points to lead BYU to a 99-92 double overtime win over Florida to snap Florida's 12-game NCAA Tournament winning streak and give BYU it's first NCAA Tournament win in 17 years. And, No. 2 Villanova survived a valiant effort by No. 15 Robert Morris to escape with a 73-70 overtime victory.

The two overtime games equaled the entire total number of overtime games from all of the 2009 NCAA Tournament and the margin of victory for the three games was only 11 points with seven of those coming in BYU's double overtime win.

Thanks to March Madness on Demand, you can watch every game in its entirety and I'm definitely taking advantage of that today as you can tell from the picture above. There have already been great games with one upset and nearly two others through three games and that's without Gus Johnson, who usually gets all the great games, calling a single one so far.

Thanks to the 50 people who joined my bracket contest. Through just the first three games, only five people have gotten all three picks correct. Congrats to Jason Pitman, Alex Connell, Matt Miller, Troy Current, and Jessica Lantz on leading the pack right now.

Speaking of the bracket contest, it was interesting to see who people picked as their choice to be the overall champion. 23 entries or nearly half of the 50 overall entries went with No. 1 overall seed Kansas to cut down the nets, while the No. 2 overall seed Kentucky got the nod from 16 other entrants. Duke (3), Ohio State (3), West Virginia (2), Syracuse (1), Kansas State (1), and Georgetown (1) were the rest of the picks to claim the title.

Enjoy the madness of the rest of the games today! I would love to hear some of your observations from today's action.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Madness of March

As a sports fan, it doesn't get any better than the next three weeks as NCAA March Madness tips off on Thursday at noon. I'll be glued to the TV watching as many games as possible, rooting for the underdogs (except when Ohio State and Duke play), cheering for buzzer beaters and gravity-defying slam dunks, and taking in all the storylines that unfold as each round of games takes place on the way to the crowning of a new champion and "One Shining Moment".

One of the traditions that goes hand-in-hand with March Madness is filling out a bracket and trying to predict which team will win as well as being able to say that you called the upset when a No. 15 seed knocks off the No. 2 seed in the first round. There are many different options when it comes to these brackets with numerous free ones online as well as the office pools that you can pay to enter at work or with your friends. My wife and I always trade brackets with the winner picking a restaurant to go to and she's won 10 of the past 17 years although I am making a comeback and have a two-year winning streak going at the moment.

I figured that what better way to connect all of my online friends from Twitter and Facebook who are going to enjoy the games the next three weeks than to run a free bracket contest of my own. To encourage you to enter and also check back with my blog, I'm going to award a $25 gift card to the winner to the restaurant of their choice. So, you have nothing to lose and lots of bragging rights and a free dinner to gain.

All you need to do to enter is to go to the private group that I've set up on ESPN's site under the title Six Degrees of MVNUSID. The password is MVNUSID. Get your bracket submitted before tip off of the first game on Thursday (approximately noon ET) and then check back with the blog each day as I highlight who is winning after each round of games. I'll look forward to reading comments to as you have the opportunity to tell the world that you called the big upset as it happens.

Good luck and enjoy the Madness!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Be Careful What You Tweet

Hi, my name is Dave and I'm a social media addict. Yes, I am going to admit what my wife has been telling me for awhile now.

First, it was
Facebook and reconnecting with old friends from high school and college or getting to know work associates better as well as adding all my every-day friends. It made picture-sharing of my kids so much easier and provided a way to keep up with what's happening in the lives of my friends.

Then, along came
Twitter. I signed up, but was very skeptical at first. I liked Facebook so much that I felt that Twitter was basically just Facebook status updates. And, I really couldn't find very many of my Facebook friends on Twitter. It seemed like it was just total strangers and celebrities.

Fast forward a year later and I am now a huge Twitter fan. Those total strangers have become some great tweeps. Being in a PR-related field as a college sports information director, I have started following a lot of great PR people in all industries. This has become a great way to share ideas through discussions like #sportsPRchat and #SIDchat and also a great support network through initiatives like #HAPPO.

And, when it comes to celebrities, I have enjoyed following some of them and even interacting with a few of them. However, one set of interactions over the past week or so has been quite the case study in social media for me.

Just like over 600,000 other people, I started following
@ConanOBrien when he joined Twitter after having the Tonight Show taken back from him by Jay Leno. I was amazed at the rate by which his followers grew, but not surprised because of the outcry after he was released. Obviously, his popularity is probably at an all-time high.

After a couple of days of Conan's once-per-day tweets, I realized that he was still not following anyone. For me, it intrigues me to see who celebrities follow. I'm not sure why, but it does. The fact that Conan wasn't following anyone yet seemed like an opportunity for maybe something special.

So, on March 2 at 11:46 p.m., I sent him a tweet that said "@ConanOBrien, I think you should follow someone random and anonymous like me for your first follow just to make people go 'Hmmmm....' :)" Yes, it was a shameless plug for myself, but I thought that it was a good idea.

Fast forward a couple of days and poof....Conan apparently took my suggestion and followed
@LovelyButton. She instantly went from three followers to now over 20,000. She and Conan have now been all over the news and just today Conan announced that he'll be doing a multi-city tour. There have been several articles about all of this including my favorite one in the LA Times.

I say all of this not to toot my horn or draw attention to myself. As someone who by the very nature of my job is used to promoting other people, I chalk this one up to just that...promoting someone else. I just find it kind of cool to think that I actually started the ball rolling on it.

People who know me know that two of my favorite things are meeting new people and connecting people with like interests. I enjoy trying to help people find jobs that fit their skill set and desires, I enjoy introducing people with mutual interests, and I've even tried my hand a few times at match-making (although my wife strongly suggests that I just mind my own business and let things take their course there and she's probably right).

This is my first take at writing a blog and I'm not sure where it's even headed in days to come. One thought that I had was to introduce to the world some of the great people that I've gotten to know thanks to Twitter and also share some of the fun experiences that I have as they happen. It never ceases to amaze me just how small this world is...we are all connected. My goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of those I come in contact with.