Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bloomin' Winners in the Bracket Contest

Well, NCAA March Madness is heating up as the Elite Eight games started today with half of the Final Four field determined. I've been on the road with our baseball team for most of the past two weeks and it's time to catch everyone up on what's been happening in the Six Degress of MVNUSID bracket contest sponsored by Outback Steakhouse.

The first day of action a week ago Thursday in the round of 64 saw a lot of people do extremely well as there were 11 of the 69 entrants tied after the day ended with 14 correct out of 16 games for 140 total points. I selected Adam Jackman as the Bloomin' Onion card winner out of the group that was tied since he went the longest without missing a game as he correctly picked the first 11 games before missing one. Ironically, Adam informed me that this was the first time he has ever entered a March Madness contest.

The second day of action saw the upsets begin to happen and that also led to a new leader atop the contest standings. Eric Smith claimed the second day Bloomin' Onion card after not only picking 13 of the 16 games correctly, but also taking over the contest lead in the process with 260 points total to edge Adam for the top spot as the round came to a close.

As the action moved to the round of 32, two entries rose to the top - Jace Wolford and George Hartz, who both correctly picked 13 of the 16 games for 260 points. George vaulted to the top of the contest leaderboard with 500 total points, while Jace made up for a sluggish first round (190 points) to jump into fourth place with 450 total points. I selected Jace as the Bloomin' Onion card winner based on the fact that he bounced back so well from his slow start. As a runner, he knows well that it's not how fast you start but how strong you finish.

The Sweet Sixteen saw 11 of the 69 contest entrants correctly pick six of the eight teams to advance as they each scored 240 points in the round. George stayed atop the leaderboard with 610 points followed closely by Chris Bean as they were two of the 11 people to correctly pick six of the eight winners. I selected Chris as the Bloomin' Onion card winner in exchange for the fact that he was the only one out of the 11 who has already lost his pick to win the entire tournament - Duke. Hopefully, the solace of a Bloomin' Onion will mask the pain of losing your champion, Chris. :)

That sets the stage for the Elite Eight which got under way on Saturday with Louisville and Ohio State both advancing. 15 of the entrants have now lost their predicted champion, and Kentucky reigns as the team picked the most to win it all - 30 times or by nearly half of the entrants. We'll see how the rest of this plays out and whether or not George can hang on to win the coveted Outback Steakhouse grand prize - a free dinner and bragging rights! (George's bracket is below.)

On a side's now official. After a rare victory over my wife in last year's contest, she has already locked up the title in our house in this year's contest as we both have all the same picks remaining and she's got a huge lead on me. That mean's that she has prevailed in 11 of the last 20 years since we started competing against each other. Congratulations, Carla!

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness is Back!!!

It's that time of year once again for the annual Six Degrees of MVNUSID men's college basketball March Madness bracket contest. Two years ago, my wife, Carla Parsons, won the inaugural event, and last year Steve Wilging beat out 67 other entrants to claim his championship.

March Madness is a great time of year for college hoops junkies and even the casual fan. One of the best ways to follow the action is to fill out a bracket and then root for your picks to advance. Go the safe route and pick all the higher seeds or be the one person to take an underdog Cinderella team to the big dance. Either way, it's lots of fun to participate and bragging rights as well as some good food in this case are up for grabs.

That's where my contest comes in. For the third straight year, my contest is free to enter so there is no excuse not to get on board. The overall winner will receive a $25 gift certificate courtesy of my friends at Outback Steakhouse. And, they have been gracious enough to throw in free Bloomin' Onion cards for the winner of each round, too. So, the steaks (er...stakes) are high and you need to sign up today!!!

To enter, just follow this link to the private group that I have set up for my friends on ESPN's site. The group name is 6 Degrees of MVNUSID if you need to search for it and the password is Bonzer - well, 'cause that's what Outback is. (If you need the back story on my history with Outback, you can read it here. I would also encourage you to follow them on Twitter at @Outback.)

I'll look forward to having you join in on the fun. Your entry (only one per person) must be submitted before the first game tips off on Thursday around noon ET. The First Four games (played in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday) are not picked in this contest.