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Once again a most impressive field has converged on chippens.com to try and win unsurpassed glory and earn a spot in history. This year's field boasts another strong mix of savvy veterans and doe-eyed rookies looking to claim the top prize.
Yes, You Have To Actually Win For Real
The Chippens Tournament is not immune to the events in the "real world." It is not immune because it need not be immune. It operates on a higher plane of existence than the silly trifles of normal human affairs.
Of course, nowadays it seems to Chippens--from its privileged perch high above such things--that there is the "real" world and the "alternative" world.
A couple players this year want to exploit this new fantasy world: "If I lose, its fake news" (Chris Schiemann) and "Alternative_Bracket" (Adam Lombard).
Lombard (11 seasons) and Schiemann (9 seasons) are both longtime players. Both had good years in 2016, with Lombard placing 10th and Schiemann 7th. Neither has claimed a championship, however.
But Schiemann boldly predicted this year is the year he wins it all. "Don't listen to the media," he said when he submitted his picks. "I will win." Schiemann will be rooting hard against the Kentucky Wildcats, who he has losing to Wichita State in the second round, and hard in favor of Duke and North Carolina, who he has meeting in the finals.
Lombard pinned his hopes on UCLA, who he has beating Villanova for the championship. Lombard is one of only 11 players with the Bruins winning it all.
Like Father Like Daughter...And Granddaughter?
Every Chippens veteran knows Bill Snider, Sr., this year playing under the handle Pure Misery, is a supreme competitor and annual threat for the title.
Now entering his 13th consecutive season, he ranks 11th in All-Time Average Place, 10th in All-Time Pick Percentage, and 4th in Career Points.
Although a championship has eluded him like a 30-point buck in the mist, he has 5 top 21 finishes, including 2nd place in 2014.
The question is whether his picking prowess is a matter of nature or nurture. His daughter, Betsy Snider (Skinny Margarita) and granddaughter (Bridget Snider) are making their Chippens debuts this year, so we will soon find out.
Will Redbirds Get Revenge?
The Illinois State Redbirds did not receive a tournament berth this year despite a very good regular season. First-year player Sarah Oliver (Redbird Revenger), who has a family connection to the team, is not taking it lightly.
What do you do if you're denied a chance to compete for an NCAA title? Obviously, you go for something far better--a Chippens title.
I'm sure the sight of Sarah wearing the Grand Prize T-Shirt to Redbird practices and games will inspire the team to achieve all their goals next year. Sarah is another one of those 11 players who picked UCLA to win it all.
Up From The Long Nap
Hello again to Truc Bui and Susu Willis. Truc last competed in 2012 and Susu in 2011.
The two might not have competed in a while, but they've surely been orbiting around Planet Chippens by virtue of their respective relationships with LaIan Ball and Cadillac's Finest, two consistent competitors.
The Chippens gravitational pull has now reeled them back in. We will see if they were rejuvenated or if they built up rust during their long absence.
Good luck to all!