Friday, April 11, 2014

Oh God! Victory Pumps Out Melick's Message

Matthew Melick, he of the notorious handle, is the 2014 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. A five-year Challenge veteran in the Modern Era (I believe he also participated in 2003 as "The Watermelon"), Melick becomes only the second Champion to not pick the tournament winner, and the first Champion to win despite picking both eventual finalists, UConn and Kentucky, to lose in the first round. His winning total of 117 points is the second lowest of all-time, just four points ahead of Angela Penney's 113-point winning effort in 2006.  Penney is the other Champion to not pick the tournament winner. 

I do not cite these facts to diminish Melick's victory. No, far from it. Of course, any Challenge Champion deserves only the highest praise and reverence for such a remarkable and truly special achievement. But while most Challenge Champions soak up the glory for themselves (and who can blame them?), Melick's victory this year was truly righteous, for he was spreading the Gospel. The Gospel of Gus Johnson, that is. As Melick explained to me, "Last year we tried a White House Petition to bring back Gus Johnson (to CBS). Like all White House Petitions, that failed. So I went grassroots to spread the message. I am grateful that the message received some attention."  

Of course, The Challenge is beyond humbled to be chosen as the medium for such an important message, but I must admit that, at first, I did not truly understand the noble design of my longtime friend. Indeed, as I watched Melick contend for the title this year, and as the specter of his chosen moniker being plastered atop the standings for all times became ever more likely as each day passed, I thought of Sherman McCoy, a character in Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, who tries to ease his anxiety in the face of a looming tragedy by telling himself that surely God demands the "purity of surprise" when he inflicts a disaster, and that He would "refuse to be anticipated by a mere mortal." 

Yes, that was how I consoled myself in my state of bewilderment as I saw Melick climb in the standings the first weekend and then somehow manage to not just compete, but actually improve his odds as each stunning finish to all these close games miraculously worked in his favor, even if he did not pick the team! But little did I know that as I was selfishly thinking to myself, Surely no benevolent Creator would force me to make so many vulgar puns in one month!, Melick had The Almighty on his side the entire time. 

Yes, unbeknownst to me, just like his namesake, St. Matthew the Apostle, Melick had been chosen to spread the Good News. I can only imagine that as Melick sat down to type in his handle, a beam of pure light came through his window like in the famous painting by Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew, which depicts the moment when Jesus surprised the man by choosing him as his disciple. It was when that same divine beam of light hit Melick's face and spread a warm glow across his fingertips that he typed the now-famous phrase, "Longing For Gus Johnson's Orgasms."  

To punctuate his immaculate victory, Melick texted me Proverbs 16:3, which states, "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Fellow Competitors, when I received those prophetic words I knew that I had bore witness to something transcendent, even mystical. The feeling was rapturous, euphoric. I don't know how to describe other than to say it was almost like that scene in When Harry Met Sally. Then I became very tired. 

Yes, just as happened to Saul on the road to Damascus, the scales have fallen from my eyes. No longer a persecutor of Longing For Gus Johnson's Orgasms, I am here to tell you he should be exalted! All Hail The Champ! And bring back Gus!  

OTHER NOTABLE FINISHES:
  • Congrats to Bill Snider and Sydney Penney for finishing second and third, respectively. Snider is in his 10th year of competition and has established himself as a legend in his own time. The 81-year-old added to his long list of accomplishments this year and now ranks 8th in Average Place and 9th in Average Pick Percentage. Sydney, in just her second year of competition and some 70 years younger than Snider, knocked her mother, Penney Lane, into 4th place when Kentucky beat the Badgers. Sydney and Black n Chrome were the only players with Kentucky in the finals. Penney Lane, though, still picked up her third top 10 finish, making her one of just six players with at least three.  
  • In the Tournament Preview, I predicted that Voltaire would be the player to watch as he earned his Five Year Ring and became eligible for the All-Time Records. Voltaire had a bit of an off year, though, to put it mildly, finishing 101st. Instead, it was Hot-T who broke onto the Average Place list in her first year of eligibility. She now ranks 9th. 
  • For the third consecutive year, Julie Thompson has "made it count." She once again bested her husband and her parents in-law, even Make-it-count Thompson, who finished 73rd. Next year she gets her Five Year Ring, and in her four years of competition (she also competed in 2009), her lowest finish is 27. In fact, she's improved her place every year, finishing 14th this year. 
  • Tigger32382, a seven-year veteran, bounced to her highest finish ever last year, a very good 20th place. She seems to have spent this year "coiling the springs," finishing next-to-last in 120th. Look for her to bounce back next year. (Perhaps she was just taking it easy on her husband, CQD, who finished 42nd as a rookie this year). 
  • Last year we had Future Mouse, and this year we had Mrs. Mouse. I hear Mrs. Mouse is expecting. Does that mean that next year we'll have Mommy Mouse? 
  • Congrats to Jessica Stover for winning the Battle of Fort Bragg. She was the only player to pick UConn to the Final Four. 
  • Bucephalus and Blizzard T. Husky each picked up their 5th Top 20 finish, making them two of just five players with that many. No one has more. Both players improved their positions in the All-Time Records, with Bucephalus reclaiming a spot on the Average Place list. Bucephalus says he has a lot of momentum going into next year.  
  • Adam Lombard and Jason Jackson each quietly had yet another quality year. They both improved in the All-Time Records, and Lombard recorded his 4th Top 20 finish. 
  • Speaking of top dogs, Stumper and Cotter continue to battle for the top spots in the Record Books. Both had good years at 22nd and 23rd place, respectively, with Stump finishing ahead of Cotter based only on pick percentage. Cotter now owns the top spot in Average Place, but Stump is ahead of last year's champ in Average Points and Average Pick Percentage. I see a Jordan vs. Bird debate heating up, only in this case it's the Horticulturist vs. the Albino Gopher.
  • Finally, speaking of math, Maths, a rookie, told me he used a random number generator to make his picks. His 118th-place finish, along with the algorithm's 115th-place showing, give us hope that maybe there is some skill involved in this game after all!
Thanks to all for playing, and I hope you all participate again next year! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

121 Take The Challenge

The 2014 Challenge has started! CLICK HERE to view Player Picks, Player Listing, Current Standings, Projected Standings, and much more! 

Daily Recaps:

2014 Preview

Once again, top competitors from the world over have converged at chippens.com to take part in this greatest of traditions. We've set a new record for participation at 121 challengers as the intoxicating lure of the pageantry and prestige of the Chippens Tournament Challenge brings ever more souls into her supple bosom.


Here's a look at some of the notable competitors this year:


SHOWING THEIR DEDICATION


As in years past, competitors this year submitted picks from west coast to east, but Uncle Leo submitted his all the way from the Far East. The veteran would simply not let a YMCA trip to Vietnam stop him from entering the contest. Rookies, take note: It's that type of grit and determination that sets champions apart. Uncle Leo is getting his 5 Year Ring this year, meaning he's eligible for the All Time Records. In his previous four seasons, he has three finishes in the top 22, and his lowest finish is 49th from 2011. A happy ending to this season could put him on the all-time leader board. 


But there can be no doubt that the one player over all others to watch out for this year is Voltaire (Rodney Dawson). Dawson said he only had time to complete one bracket this year, and he made it this one. Clearly a wise man. Dawson is also in line for his 5 Year Ring, which should make current holders of all-time records very nervous. Dawson's last four seasons have been brilliant: 4th (2010), 11th (2011), 21st (2012) and 16th (2013). Can his incredible run continue? Or will the limelight of a 120 computer screens cast a shadow over his success? Only time will tell.


BRAGGING RIGHTS?


We have a number of players competing this year from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the U.S. Airborne Forces and the U.S. Special Forces. Most are rookies, including Airborne Chef, Ft. Bragg, jprose24, Monster, and Mr. Stew. There can be no doubt that their military training and background will have prepared them well for the rigors of the Chippens Tournament Challenge. They'll be in competition against each other now, however, and only one can prove to be sine pari, "without equal," which I understand is the motto at Fort Bragg. 


BEWARE BOSS HOGG

What can I say other than look out for this guy. He deserves a section all to himself. A "rookie" in name only, Boss Hogg ran the CHS tournament back in the paper and pencil days of the 1990s, before Chippens even existed. In fact, he was there for the birth of Chippens on that fateful New Year's Eve, December 31, 2000 (ask GG20 for more info on that). A creative entrepreneur and a man of wide-ranging talents, Boss Hogg has always had a gift for spotting and seizing opportunity. In this year of the wolf, it might be time to start asking which among us are the sheep.   


BACK IN ACTION      


MKizzle and hv porter are two top competitors back this year that haven't competed recently. MKizzle was runner-up in 2010 and finished 21st in 2011. She's staked her chances at a glorious return to competition on Duke -- she's the only player in the tournament to take them all the way. 


Hv porter (Liz Reinhart) did not compete last year after putting together a remarkable five-year run. The research manager is currently ranked #1 in lifetime pick percentage, #4 in average place, and #5 in average points. She's back to defend her spots in the record books with an Arizona-Kansas final. If you also have that pairing, you are in good company. 


10-YEAR MILESTONE


This year marks the 14th annual Chippens Tournament Challenge and the 10th since the dawn of the "modern era" in 2005, when we instituted our stringent records retention policy. The following players are not only back this year, they have competed every year since at least 2005. Players with an asterisk are those I believe have been with the tourney since our first year in 2001. 

Honorable Mention: Nicholas A. "Blizzard T. Husky" Schultz has only missed one year (2007) from 2001-2014. 

TODAY'S UPDATES: Standings will be updated as close to real time as possible today. The Current Standings page always reflects the time of the last update in the top right corner. 

Thanks for playing and good luck!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 2014 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge

MAKE YOUR PICKS NOW in the 2014 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge!

Once again, entry is TOTALLY FREE and we have PRIZES for the top three finishers. The spectacular Grand Prize T-Shirt is shown below. This vintage piece of Americana features a noble beast on the front that is only worthy of a Challenge Champion. The back features a true American patriot and last year's champion, Cotter, in a state of majestic repose. 

Entry deadline is Thursday, March 20 at 12:00 p.m. eastern / 11:00 a.m. central

*One bracket per person, please. If you submit a second bracket, it will replace your first bracket. If you want to just change a couple picks, contact me and I will do it for you. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.* 

Good Luck!

FRONT



BACK





Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Coronation Of Cotter

There is a scene in the 1988 action movie Die Hard where the villain, Hans Gruber, says, "When Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."

I have thought about that quote often over the past couple days, for there is no doubt that somewhere out there -- albeit under a thick cream of SPF baby's bottom to protect his albino complexion -- Cotter is at once basking in the brilliant glory of being crowned the 2013 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion and experiencing a certain feeling of loss and nostalgia, as he has now, like Alexander, accomplished more before the age of 30 than most men in history could ever dream.

Yet Cotter's was not an easy victory.

You see, Cotter -- who I'm told has been asking people to address him as "Your Lordship" -- almost didn't even get his picks in this year. With fewer than 24 hours before the deadline, Cotter decided to fly to Las Vegas.

After a layover in Cleveland, he boarded his flight to Sin City. Everything went great -- except for the fact that somewhere over the prairie states Cotter realized he'd left his laptop sitting out in the terminal at the Cleveland airport. Well, in this day and age, leaving a box-shaped electronic device unattended in an airport tends to cause some alarm.

TSA and local law enforcement responded immediately. They assumed Cotter's Facebook account and began a thorough investigation. But, after contacting a few of Cotter's friends and learning intimate details of his life, they apparently realized just who they were dealing with (i.e., they were overcome with pity) and decided to put the laptop on the next flight to Vegas.

Still, Cotter would not get his laptop back before the deadline. This meant he had to painstakingly make his picks on his iPhone. 

In this way, Cotter's triumph reminds me of the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme masterpiece "Bloodsport," in which Frank Dux, played by Van Damme, wins the Kumite, the secret fighting tournament in Hong Kong. In the final match, Van Damme's wicked opponent throws powder in his eyes. Blinded, Van Damme must rely on training and instinct to prevail.

Likewise, one can just imagine Cotter, jet-lagged and (no doubt) hungover, valiantly entering his picks on his iPhone, barely able to see the teams through the mental haze created by his own whiskey-tinged stench mixing with the dappled desert sunlight creeping through his window shades. 


It's a scenario that would have bested lesser men, men who would have cursed the Heavens for their awful plight. Men who would have rolled over and said, "Next year." 

But not Cotter. No, not Cotter. For where those lesser men would have succumbed to self-pity, Cotter instead heeded the words of Cassius, who in Julius Caesar tells Brutus, "Men at some times are masters of their fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves." Thus, like William Wallace inspiring his peasant army at the Battle of Stirling, Cotter summoned his vast reserve of cunning and pure willpower to overcome all obstacles to realize his destiny.

In so doing, Cotter often seemed more Master Splinter than albino gopher, proving Louis Pasteur's maxim (and Steven Seagal's in "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory") that "chance favors the prepared mind." Yes, with the deft skill of an ancient and wizardly master, Cotter out-classed perhaps the most competitive field in Challenge history, winning by an impressive 16 points over the next opponent.

Indeed, only one player had more teams in the Sweet 16, no one had more in the Elite 8, no one had more in the Final Four, and Cotter was the only player to have a Michigan-Louisville final. He secured the Championship when Michigan defeated Syracuse; the win by Louisville in the final only extended his lead and put him 18th All-Time for a single season score.

Ladies and gentlemen, the albino gopher -- or should I say, His Lordship The Albino Gopher -- is now a champion for the ages.

Other Notable Finishes:

  • With his fifth place finish, Brandon Gamble took over the tournament's #1 ranking. Stumper fell to #3, and Cotter took over the #2 spot. 
  • Julie Thompson (nee Kozlowski) beat her husband and her in-laws for the second year in a row.
  • Jason Jackson, Rodney Dawson, and Chris Schumacher each picked up their third top-20 finish. Dawson and Schumacher will get their Five Year Rings next year. You can bet they will make a move for spots in the All-Time Average Place list. 
  • Congrats to Eric Myszka (that means "mouse" in Polish) and Amber Karecki (Future Mouse), who will be competing as a husband and wife pair next year. 
  • Steve Wood, the tournament's runner-up, finished as the top rookie. He also had the top pick percentage at 70%.  
  • Congrats to 9-year veteran Van Miller on his 4th place showing, his first top 10 finish.   

Thanks for playing! See you next March!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

112 Take the Challenge

The Challenge has started! CLICK HERE to view current standings, player listing, player picks, projected standings, and much more!

Daily Recaps

2013 Preview

It's another banner year for the Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge, with 112 feisty competitors lined up to take the Challenge. 


Once again, we have a healthy mix of wily veterans and hungry rookies, all looking to achieve the fame and glory that can only be earned through being crowned the Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge Champion.


Earning that Championship and the enormous feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes with it is never easy, but I think this year will be the toughest ever. 


Of course, that hasn't stopped several players from engaging in their customary pre-tournament puffery and trash talk. Senor Wences, always willing to talk a few levels above his pay grade, told Lifeguard Leo yesterday to make sure he was wearing his magnifying corrective lenses at the end of the tournament so that he could see the players at the top of the standings. Spirits are definitely high as we begin play. 


Let's take a look at the field.


VETERANS


We have a lot of veterans returning, including almost everyone on the Most Lifetime Points, Best Average Place, and Best Average Points lists. 


After missing last year, Brandon Gamble (Diet Ginger) has returned to defend his spots in the record books. He currently ranks #1 in Average Points Per Tournament and #2 in Average Place Per Tournament, behind Stumper, who also returns. Stumper ranks #1 in Average Place, and is also the Challenge's Lifetime Points record holder.  


But those precious spots in the record books may be in jeopardy, for this year we have another big group of players getting their Five Year Rings, meaning after this season they will all be eligible for those records. Crawdaddy, Balldoc54, T'd up, DaLambo, Jeffrey T, Sneaky Peat, and sneppihc will all be vying for a spot among the Challenge's all-time greats. 


Jeffrey T (Jeff Marlin) is especially threatening. Although he finished 68th last year, he was leading the field after the first weekend. His previous finishes include 2nd place in 2011, 8th place in 2010, and 28th place in 2009. He was the first player to enter his picks this year. Last year's winner, DirtyErdy, was the first person to enter his picks. Will it work again?


Finally, keep an eye out for The Bryman (Bryan Timm). Bryan fell out of the Best Average Place list last year after puking up a 90th place finish. However, I'm sure that was just a statistical anomaly. He's ready to clean up the mess this year and get his name permanently enshrined in the Hall of Champions.   


ROOKIES


The rookies this year are an especially impressive group representing locations all across the country.


Look out for Slim Pickens (Billy Snider) of Ludington, Mich. Slim is the son of Grumpy Old Man, who is now in his 9th consecutive year of competition and ranks #6 in Lifetime Points. If Slim has the same picking prowess as his father, we could have a rookie take home the title this year. 


PoliticalGrrl (Stephanie Hilton) is the president of the University of Wisconsin Law School's Public Interest Law Foundation. She's also the Senior Note and Comment Editor of the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender, and Society. This means she's a real go-getter (read: huge nerd) and normally can't concern herself with plebeian diversions like sporting events. Yet, she told me she skipped doing her homework last night to make her picks. This kind of dedication is what Champions are made of.  


But the Bruce Banner of this field is no doubt Lebrons ACT Coach (Dave Froelich). Froelich, now of Houston, Texas, is a Cadillac, Mich. native and a graduate of Kalamazoo College. Always humble, soft-spoken, and gracious, when Froelich submitted his picks he personally thanked me for "supplying all the butt [he's] about to kick." 


PEE WEES  


Our numbers have grown this year thanks in part to the large number of elementary-aged competitors that have joined the competition. You'll recognize them by their tough-sounding handles, like Ashtonovich, The Big Dog, and natethegreat.


Those are the boys -- not bad in terms of striking fear in an opponent. 


But they could still take a lesson in this area from the girls, who chose extremely fierce and intimidating names like Squidly the Diddly, The Girl Pink, and -- scariest of all -- Maya Pony Fun.  


STANDINGS UPDATES -- I will be updating the scores as close to real time as possible today. Check back often. The current standings always list when they were last updated in the top right corner of the page. 


Thanks for playing and GOOD LUCK!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

MAKE YOUR PICKS!

You can now MAKE YOUR PICKS in the 2013 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge. As always, entry is totally free, and there are great prizes for the winners! First place gets a custom Chippens t-shirt (see below), second place gets a bumper sticker, and third place gets a fridge magnet. Deadline is noon eastern, 11 a.m. central this Thursday, March 21. 

Those of you who follow Chinese astrology know that 2013 is the Year of the Snake. That means this year, one lucky person will get to make hisstory! While you're waiting for the tourney to start, check out the Hall of Champions and the All-Time Records to see what you have to do to be among the best!


GRAND PRIZE

Front

Back

http://www.mysideline.com/u/2718/collegebbmens/13/tournamententry.htm

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Erdy First In And Wins

David Erdman (Erdy), the first person to submit a bracket this year, is the 2012 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge Champion. The Cadillac, Mich. native and current resident of East Lansing, Mich. won easily by 11 points. His impressive score of 169 points ranks him 11th all-time. 

Always humble, Erdman likened his victory to a "blind squirrel find[ing] a nut." But it's more like he found Scrooge McSquirel's Nut Bin in the late rounds. After placing just 8 teams in the Sweet 16, Erdman only lost one game, Michigan St./Louisville, where he had a team still alive. From the Elite 8 on, he was perfect in the West, East, and Midwest regions. He then correctly picked the final two teams and the champion. All told, he finished the tournament 12 of 13 over the final four rounds. 

Erdman will now begin his Championship Tour, where he will wear his Grant Prize T-Shirt to meet and greet adoring fans at Michigan hotspots like Johnny's Fish & Game, the candy store at Little Bay De Noc, Thirsty's, The Busy Bee, The Big Buck Brewery, The Pines, and Temple Hill Baptist Church. 

Chris Schumacher (Diagnosticator), a.k.a. The Dog Father, overcame early typing problems and a 5-year hiatus from the Challenge to finish in second place with 158 points, moving him into a tie for 19th all-time. Schumacher meant to call himself the Dognosticator, and he couldn't figure out why I kept "mispronouncing" his handle until he realized that he had spelled it wrong. Still, Schumacher was overjoyed at his second place finish. "This is pure poetry for The Dog Father," he said. "Just another day at the library."   

Katy Buoscio (KB) picked up the third-place prize with her 155-point effort, just edging The Raj by one point. Buoscio, a Challenge rookie, said that even more than finishing third, it was "the thrill of being part of such a prestigious group . . . that brought such excitement." Well, it is completely normal to be star-struck your first year in the Challenge. Kind of like competing in American Idol against the Beatles or in little league against the '27 Yankees. She said that her less able coworkers, Buzzard Beater and Nanoputian, were more than a little upset when Ohio State lost, meaning she could no longer win the Grand Prize. However, she has promised that the fridge magnet she won will be prominently displayed in the IWU admissions hall. 

Other Notable (and some sad) Finishes:
  • hv porter (Liz Reinhart), Bring Back Joakim (Adam Lombard), and Bucephalus (Tim Corwin) each had strong finishes to land themselves on the All-Time Average Place list, the Challenge's most prestigious record.
  • They replaced three typically fearsome players, Polar Bear (Loren DeHaan), brutalbrutis (Alicia Kellogg), and The Bryman (Bryan Timm), who each had by far their worst seasons ever. Timm finished 90th after back-to-back 6th place finishes the last two years. Kellogg finished 89th after winning in 2010 and finishing in 5th last year. DeHaan finished 94th after recording five top 20 finishes in the last six years, including a runner-up performance in 2008. No doubt the Hope alum was crushed by the Flying Dutchmen's loss to IWU in the men's DIII tournament. 
  • With her 97th place showing, G-Baby (Gianina Baker) has now beaten three people in the last four years.
  • One of those players was NOT This is Awful (Matthew Melick), who belied his handle with a strong 27th place finish.
  • Pin High (Tommy Mueller) hit a couple bogeys in his first two years, but he finished in 31st this year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him at the top of the leader board in the coming years.   
  • Looking ahead to next year, Obi-Wan (Mike Theune) will get his 5-Year Ring. He finished a very respectable 34th this year, and in the previous three years he's finished 27th, 22nd, and 5th. Another strong finish could place him on the All-Time Average Place list. 
  • Finally, Stumper (Mike Stump) had an off year (for him), placing 26th after five straight years of top-16 finishes, but it was good enough to retain his #1 ranking going into 2013. 
Thanks for playing! See you next March!