Welcome back to an alumni-packed edition of BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for your offbeat NCAA tournament needs. Today, we explain why Warren Buffett is rich and you’re not, why you don’t always need a private jet to enjoy the tourney, and how a kid actor nearly stole the show. Without further ado:
THANKS FOR PLAYING. NOW DON’T FORGET YOUR PARTING GIFT
And because misery never lacks company, so are all the other geniuses who penciled Cincinnati, Ohio State and Oklahoma into the third round. According to one estimate, at least 95 percent of the 100 million or so brackets filled out all across America were busted by the time the NCAA tournament was barely 12 hours old. So just about the only guy still smiling when his head hit the pillow last night was Warren Buffett, and that’s because he won’t have to worry much longer about handing the $1 billion he stuffed under his mattress to anyone who finished the tourney with a perfect score.
Lord knows the lengths people went to hoping to get their hands on that cash. BracketRacket’s favorite scheme involved rats in replica jerseys racing through a maze built in the shape of a bracket. Taking “March Madness” to ever-greater heights, ESPN aired a video of the whole shebang, which you can watch (thanks to Awful Announcing) here: http://bit.ly/1l957ub
Of course, knowing how to play the odds — they were 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or, rounding off, 9.2 quintillion-to-1 against such a possibility — is one reason Buffett still has most of his money.
The good news is there’s still hope. The bad news is that what little remains likely resides in the already sparsely populated state of North Dakota.
Just like the rest of us, math students at North Dakota State came up with a formula to help them fill out their NCAA brackets, And while they might be smarter — they called theirs a “logistic conditional probability model” — they, too, picked Oklahoma to beat NDSU. They also missed the upsets by Harvard (over Cincy) and Dayton (OSU).
But humans are not always logical. And they can be loyal to a fault.
“I did actually pick NDSU to upset Oklahoma in my personal bracket,” said NDSU senior Bryan Rask, a mathematics and statistics major who worked on the project. “We’ve got a lot of senior leaders on our team, and if (Taylor) Braun and (TrayVonn) Wright play at the top of their game, I think we have a pretty good chance at the upset.”
Take that, “SportsCenter.”
Speaking of upsets, it’s too bad Oklahoma doesn’t award frequent-flyer miles. Otherwise, Toby Keith would have something to show for the trip.
The country music singer and die-hard Sooners fan was on a concert tour of Australia when he learned Oklahoma was playing North Dakota State in the NCAA tourney at Spokane, Wash., and he wasn’t about to let a small inconvenience like the Pacific Ocean get in the way of attending.
Keith described his journey to AP’s Carey Williams this way: “We left two days ago, went to Hawaii, spent the night, let the pilots get a little sleep and rested up so we could get in here and make this game.”
Unfortunately, the result wasn’t as smooth as the getting there.
On the plus side, Keith had already written his best-selling song, “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action” nearly two decades ago. Otherwise, the temptation to pen something to remember the trip by might have been impossible to resist.
CELEBRITY ALUM, HONORABLE MENTION
Don Schneider didn’t travel quite that far to watch his beloved Badgers. But at least his sacrifice paid off.
The 62-year-old steel salesman was the only patron inside Snapper’s Sports Bar & Grill in Honolulu when it opened just before 7 a.m. local time. Schneider explained that he and wife Karen have a timeshare at the nearby Hilton, which is why they’re usually in paradise for March Madness. He was already halfway through a Budweiser at the Waikiki watering hole, a popular spot for wandering Wisconsin fans that opened 90 minutes early Thursday, when he ran into AP stringer Sam Eifling.
“Last year I started watching on the app in the hotel room,” he said. “This is way more fun.”
For the first hour, Schneider was virtually the entire party. And the way Wisconsin came out early against American University, the mood wasn’t likely to improve in a hurry.
Asked whether he’d ever seen the Badgers look so flat in the tournament, Schneider laughed, “I don’t remember, I drink too much beer.”
Then he remembered this Wisconsin team, for a change, has some scorers, and began rattling them off: “(Frank) Kaminsky. (Ben) Brust. And (Sam) Dekker! Oh, man. Sheboygan boy!”
Sure enough, in the second half, it was all Badgers. And Schneider ordered another Bud.
CELEBRITY ALUM , FUTURE DIVISION
We couldn’t let Saint Joseph’s exit stage left without saying goodbye to the kid.
His name is Philip Martelli, he’s the 4-year-old grandson of longtime Hawks coach Phil Martelli, and if he had had an agent — or just a Screen Actor’s Guild card — he’d be rolling in dough. Here’s the list of free programming Philip provided TV with in the last week: the Today Show, Good Morning America, every local newscast in Philly — even an in-game interview during CBS’ broadcast of Thursday’s overtime loss to Connecticut.
Philip owes his fame to his pitch-perfect imitation of grandad. He usually wears a blazer and oversized tie to games, pumps his fist at the student section walking in, just like Phil, sits behind the bench, folds his arms and shouts “Hey!” in perfect synch, and when he does the trademark sad Phil Martelli maneuver — burying his chin in his chest as his team goes south — well, check out Philip’s work for yourself (via YouTube) here: http://bit.ly/PV4uHM
Philip’s dad, Phil Martelli Jr., is an assistant coach at Delaware, and he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he and wife Meghan (a former college basketball player) worry about raising Philip in a family of coaches and dragging him to games almost every night.
“’One night, I’m a St. Joe’s Hawk. One night, I’m a Delaware Blue Hen. One night, I’m a St. Paul Catholic (High) Falcon,’” is how Phil Martelli Jr. described Philip’s week. “He probably thinks every 4-year-old knows who Fran Dunphy and Bruiser Flint are.
“We’ve done everything,” dad added a moment later, “short of talk to child psychologists to make sure we’re not frying his brain.”
Not to worry. Philip could have worse role models. In a business that occasionally requires coaches to behave like jerks — and for plenty, that’s not a stretch — Phil Martelli is one of the genuinely good guys.
We’ll miss him, too.
STAT OF THE DAY
Stats LLC doesn’t want to jinx Creighton, but points out that having the player who led the nation in scoring — in this case Doug McDermott, who topped Division I at 26.9 points per game — is rarely a good thing. From 1998 through 2013, only four teams with the top gun even made the NCAA field and only two of those advanced as far as the Sweet 16 — Adam Morrison (2006, Gonzaga) and Jimmer Fredette (2011, BYU). The No. 3-seeded Bluejays meet Louisiana-Lafayette with that hanging over their head.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Yesssssssssss HARVARD!!!!!!! Messing up a lot of peoples chances at $1 billion lol #bracketbusters #twoyearsinarow” — tweeted Harvard alum and Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (@JLin7).