Thursday, March 28, 2013

Heading to the Sweet Sixteen

Well, the Sweet Sixteen will start this evening with four games on tap as we start the second week of March Madness.  How is your bracket faring these days?  I'm in the middle of the pack tied for 48th place out of 75 people in the Six Degrees of MVNUSID contest sponsored by Outback Steakhouse.

The two days of the round of 32 last Saturday and Sunday saw lots more excitement with more upsets and now three teams who had been picked as eventual champions sent home in Georgetown, Memphis, and Gonzaga.  On Saturday, nine people correctly picked six of the eight winners and to choose the Bloomin' Onion winner I went with the person who got the most correct in a row and that is my twitter pal, Ali Schwanke, who went 6-for-6 on the day before finally stumbling.  It helped her jump way up in the standings.  Then, on Sunday, one person, the always entertaining Patrick Neville, correctly picked seven of the eight results to jump from 18th place all the way up to fourth.

Ali Schwanke and Patrick Neville were the round of 32 winners
Nate Okuley, who at one point got as high in the ESPN national bracket contest as 125th, continues to lead in the overall race with 490 points although he will be taking a few hits in the next couple of rounds as he already lost some of predictions.  Ryan Workman, one of my sports information friends, is right on his heels with 480 points just waiting for him to stumble.  The two of them have different champions picked, so it will get interesting to see what happens as the games continue.

Here's hoping that the excitement of the tournament continues with more great games and buzzer beaters.  Good luck!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

And Then There Were 32....

Matt Schreiber
With only four upsets on Thursday in the first big day of March Madness, we should have all known that the upsets would be more plentiful on the second day and that's what happened as Freaky Friday ensued to shake up the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest.  Six upsets took place in all with five of them being by double digit seeds including No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast shocking No. 2 Georgetown, No. 13 LaSalle knocking off No. 4 Kansas State, No. 12 Ole Miss sending No. 5 Wisconsin packing, No. 11 Minnesota bouncing the Bruins of No. 6 UCLA, No. 10 Iowa State ending the luck of the Irish by downing No. 7 Notre Dame, and No. 9 Temple getting past No. 8 North Carolina State.

First day winner Nate Okuley continued to do well as he followed up Thursday's 14-for-16 performance by going 13-for-16 on Friday to maintain a 20-point lead on the nearest competitor, Ryan Halley, who has been in second place both days.  However, Nate's bracket took a hit with the losses by Georgetown and Wisconsin as he had them in the Final Four and Elite Eight respectively.

Five other people joined Nate in correctly picking 13 of the 16 games on Friday.  Of the six people, Matt Schreiber, one of my running friends, has the most possible points remaining as he jumped from 27th to third place in the standings.  So, Matt is the Day 2 winner of the free Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion.

Matt Schreiber's Bracket
I managed to hold steady in the standings despite just going 11-for-16 on Friday.  It was good enough to move me from 12th place to seventh place as the standings shifted a bunch.  And interestingly enough, I actually have the most possible points remaining of anyone in the contest with 1,560.  That won't happen, but it's fun to speculate while I can.

The round of 32 action is tipping off and things should continue to get interesting as more upsets are bound to happen.  We already had one person lose their predicted eventual champion yesterday when Georgetown went down, and I'm guessing some others will follow the way this crazy season has gone.  Enjoy the ride!  And enjoy some Outback Steakhouse!  :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

First Day of March Madness is in the Books!

Nate Okuley
Well, the first day of March Madness is in the books!  There were a couple of upsets and some close games, but all in all things went pretty much as planned with only two games that wrecked much havoc on the brackets as No. 14 seed Harvard upset No. 3 seed New Mexico and No. 12 seed Cal knocked off #5 seed UNLV.  No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 9 Wichita State beating No. 8 Pitt were the other two upsets although most people didn't have Oklahoma State or Pitt going much farther.

Greg Rhoads, Justin Ross, Bruce Petersen, and Hannah Gibbs went the longest out of the 75 people in the Six Degrees of MVNUSID contest with a perfect bracket as they each survived the first 11 games before the UNLV loss knocked them all out of the ranks of the unbeaten.  My only loss through the first 12 games was when No. 14 seed Davidson blew a nine-point lead in the final 5:23 to lose 59-58 to No. 3 Marquette as I stood at 11-1 as well.

The final four games of the night proved to separate the field a little as when all the dust settled one person stood alone at the top after day one - Nate Okuley.  Nate is one of my former student workers and a great guy and he went 14-2 on day one with his only blemishes being the losses by Pitt and New Mexico.  He correctly picked the other two upsets and then went with the higher seeds the rest of the way.  He has a 10-point lead on 10 other people who each went 13-3.  I'm in the next group tied for 12th after going 12-4.

Nate's Bracket

No one lost their eventual champion on the first day although one person did have New Mexico playing in the final game.  Of the 75 people, 23 picked overall top seed Louisville to claim the title, 21 went with Indiana, and 16 chose Ohio State.  I'm one of only two people to have picked Duke.

My guess is that things will get a little more interesting as the action tips off today on the second day of action with 16 more games on tap.  It will be interesting to see how things stand at the end of the day.  Enjoy!

A big thanks to Outback Steakhouse for sponsoring the bracket.  Nate will be enjoying a free Bloomin' Onion to celebrate his successful day one.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's March Madness Time, Baby!

It's that time of year once again for the annual Six Degrees of MVNUSID men's college basketball March Madness bracket contest!  You can check out the results from the inaugural event, the second year, and then last year when Jim Clark beat out 68 other people to grab the coveted Outback Steakhouse gift certificate and bragging rights for the year.

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 fourth straight year, my contest is free to enter so there is no excuse not to get on board. The overall winner will receive a $20 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 MVNUSID. (If you need the back story on my history with Outback, you can read it here.  They've also helped me celebrate my last two birthdays in style - 40 and 41 - if you want to click on those links.  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 are not picked in this contest.