Thursday, March 20, 2008

2008: 64 players and 64 teams

Click HERE to view the tournament homepage for standings, results, player listing and picks, and much much more.

The field is set
for the 2008 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge, and it looks to be another stellar year. Participation numbers this year are close to an all-time high (even without the help of an entire seventh grade classroom like in 2005), and the tournament features a good mix of newcomers and grizzled veterans. Once again, the brackets came in from all over. This year, we received picks from three continents, thirteen states, and Washington D.C.

Returning to the field are past champions Angela Penney (2006), PJ Schroeder, Julie Gehrke (2001), and Jake Willis (2002). No one has ever won The Challenge twice, but these fine competitors will try to make history this year.

They join longtime veterans Bill Snider, Loren DeHaan, Ben DeHaan, Charles D. Corwin, Lisa Corwin, Jeff VanDellen, Tim Corwin, Zach Gorsage, Mike Penney, Adam Lombard, Nicholas Schultz, Wally Waltz, Garrett Davey, Ryan Horrigan, Stumper, Brandon Gamble, Van Miller and many more.

Rookies to watch:

Joining the field this year is Jeff Bergren, who is a new resident in Northern Michigan after living most of his life in Connecticut and, most recently, West Virginia. He’s still crowing about the Giants’ win in the Superbowl. He claims he “called the final score and the winning play,” and he’s pretty sure he’s going to duplicate his success in the Chippens Tournament.

I’d also look out for the man whose friends know him only as “Beast.” He may be making his debut this year in the tourney, but his reputation obviously precedes him. His Green Bay, Wisconsin home puts him only about 140 miles southwest of the Chippens Headquarters as the crow flies (or Coho swim, whatever).

Greg Gielczyk has been a sports writer for over thirty years, and the wily veteran has seen it all. He has Wisconsin running the table.

And last but not least, Brian Keilen [1, 2] joins us this year. He submitted his picks by declaring that St. Johns (yes, that dump of a place by Lansing) is better than Cadillac, so we already know that his judgment is skewed.

Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge History and Facts

2001 – “The Great Beginning”
Champion: Julie Gehrke

Notes: It all started in 2001 with 14 players and a $10 entry fee. The champion wasn’t determined until the final game, and a party was held at Chippens headquarters (parents’ basement) to celebrate the historic event. Duke beat Arizona to give the championship and an envelope full of cash to Julie Gehrke, upsetting early favorite Jake Willis, who would have to wait until 2002 to get his payday. Gehrke still claims that it is the proudest moment of her life.

2002 – “The April Fools Fiasco”
Champions: Katie Erdman (free) / Jake Willis (pay)

Notes: 2002 marks the first year that the tournament was held on the Chippens website. In order to accommodate a wider audience, organizers set up two pools, one for the gamblers and one for the novices.

Controversy broke out after the tournament ended when on April Fool’s Day the Chippens webmaster (CLC) told Mr. Willis that he had decided to give all the money to his then-girlfriend, Katie Erdman, since she had more points than Mr. Willis and had “paid her entry fee in secret” because she “didn’t want anyone to know she gambled.”

CLC completed his gag by initially sending Mr. Willis only enough money to cover the second place payout.

Mr. Willis was so enraged by this injustice that he sent out a mass email railing against Chippens and everyone associated with it. Little did he know that the rest of his money was already waiting for him in his paypal account.

A few minutes later, Mr. Willis sent out another mass email detailing how he’d been fooled, or as they say now, “punk’d.” He remains contrite to this day.

2003 and 2004 – “The Dark Ages”

Not much is known or remembered about these years. That’s probably because during the tournament the Chippens webmaster was on spring break in locales like New Orleans, Panama City, and Honolulu. Also, all official records were destroyed in the Great Chippens File Purge around this time (this was before the age of unlimited server space for mere pennies). If you have any information on these years, kindly send it to

2005 – “The Modern Era”

Champion: Jake Smith
Runner-up: Jeff VanDellen

Notes: 2005 marked a new beginning for the Chippens Tournament Challenge. The scoring was standardized, and a record 78 people participated. Jake Smith finished first and Jeff VanDellen finished second, riding on the success of his Michigan St. Spartans, who made the Final Four that year.

Both Smith and VanDellen had to fend off a furious charge by Mackinaw Trail Middle School seventh grader Frank Fuzi, who correctly picked a flurry of amazing upsets and would have won it all had Illinois beaten North Carolina in the championship game.

2006 – “The Year of Utter Futility”

Champion: Angela Penney (WHAC)
Runner-up: Nicholas A. Schultz (Blizzard T. Husky)

Notes: 2006 marks the only year in which not one person picked the champion correctly. No one had the foresight to pick Florida to go all the way (most picked either UConn or Duke), and Angela Penney was the only player to have Florida and UCLA in the Final Four. Nicholas Schultz was the only player to have UCLA making it to the championships.

Schultz also finished second in the Div. III pool that year, finishing behind Van Miller.

2007 – “Back to Form”

Champion: Tyler Neal (The Rear Admiral)
Runner-up: Leta Corwin (MOM)

Notes: 2007 was a barnburner with several lead changes throughout the tournament. It was anybody’s game right up to the very end, but Tyler Neal belied his moniker as “The Rear Admiral” to emerge victorious. In doing so, Neal became the first-ever champion that is not a native of Cadillac, Michigan. He set tournament records with 192 points and an astounding 84 percent accuracy rate.

Finishing runner-up to Neal was Hart, Michigan native Leta Corwin, who was propelled to success mostly because her son is in law school at Florida (so she of course picked them to win it all), and the Gators just happened to win last year.

Past results:


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