When Virginia hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds to play, proving to be the shot that sent the title game into overtime, Strain's hope of Virginia going from the ultimate humiliation (Virginia was the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed - UMBC - in 2018) to national champion was still alive. Virginia dominated much of overtime to give Strain the best bracket of the 101 entries and a spot on the Wall of Champs. Having an all-around solid bracket - plus the Cavaliers as the champs (only 8 brackets had Virginia as the champion) - is what put Strain over the top. He correctly picked 24 first round games correctly and nailed 14/16 Sweet 16 teams. It was a conservative-yet-effective bracket which featured just one double-digit seed in the second round (No. 10 Florida). Ryan Laiche finished 1.5 points back in second place while Chris Baharis won the tiebreaker over Aidan Harkins for third. Chris Mackinder, who would have won the pool with a Texas Tech victory in the title game, finished fifth.
Jordan Baharis was one of five entrants to correctly peg the Villanova-Michigan national title game. What separated him from the rest of the pack? Only two had the Wildcats defeating the Wolverines in the title game. Baharis also netted three of four Final Four teams ('Nova, Michigan, and Kansas) - something only six entrants did. Putting it all together and Baharis grabbed the top spot in the 118-bracket field, the largest in Deuce2Sports history. While he didn't have any "crazy bold" upset selections, four Elite Eight teams and the aforementioned three Final Four teams was enough to get the job done. Thanks to Villanova's championship, Jon Machnacki, Ken Starkey , and Angela Laiche finished second, third and fourth, respectively. Machnacki grabbed the second spot by 0.5 points thanks to one correct First Four selection. Nick Rizzi, the only other entrant to have Villanova over Michigan in the finals, took fifth.
In a year where several people correctly picked the champion (North Carolina), as well as the runner-up Gonzaga, it was going to take a consistently solid bracket to take home the title. And while Aaron Fraser was one of four different brackets to correctly pick the North Carolina over Gonzaga final, he was the only one to score in double digit points across all rounds of the tournament, giving him enough points to top the leaderboard when the dust all settled. Right behind him in second was David Hess, who narrowly missed becoming the first back-to-back March Madness Pool champion. Hess also managed to pick up 4th with his other bracket. Kevin Hardy finished 3rd, after having a solid bracket throughout but missing Gonzaga in the final. Jon Machnacki rounded out the top 5.
In a field of 108 brackets, it made sense that the winning bracket was the only one to correctly peg the Villanova-North Carolina title game matchup. It was "a hedge against my Kansas fandom," winner David Hess said, enshrining himself on the Wall of Champs. He correctly predicted 6 of 8 Elite Eight teams (only missing Notre Dame and Syracuse) and was one of three brackets with three Final Four teams. Outside of his "reach" to take Villanova to win the title, his picks were pretty vanilla; his only major first round upsets were No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 10 VCU, but staying fairly chalky in the latter rounds and the money title game secured him the victory before Monday's final result. Hess had another bracket finish third thanks to UNC's deep run. Jon Machnacki finished second, while Laura Nilan and Dawn Klemish finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Matt Ashton didn't pick Duke to win the championship, but it didn't matter. Ashton's bracket was so good from start to finish that just pegging the correct finale clinched the pool (Ashton had Wisconsin beating Duke in the finals). He did, however, have three Final Four teams and undefeated Kentucky was not one of them. Instead, he went with seventh-seeded Michigan State. What helped win him the pool: Nailing the entire Elite Eight (that meant fourth-seeded Louisville and third-seeded Notre Dame, along with MSU, straying from complete chalk. He didn't get crazy with picking first-round upsets, but he did predict No. 14 Georgia State's shocking upset of No. 3 Baylor. Avesta Loloee finished second and fourth, respectively, with a pair of brackets. 2014 winner Mike Harkins came in third thanks to his pick of Duke to win it all. Lastly, Kenneth Starkey finished fifth despite having arguably the best bracket of the pool. He also pegged the entire Elite Eight as well as the entire Final Four. He finished fifth despite not having either finalist (he had Kentucky over MSU in the title game).
In a year where there were plenty of higher-seeded teams reaching later rounds Mike Harkins put together one of the more impressive brackets in recent memory. Despite the craziness of the tournament Harkins' bracket correctly pegged 29 Round of 64 games correctly and had 13 teams in the Sweet 16, including sixth-seeded Baylor, seventh-seeded UConn, and eight-seeded Kentucky. The genius didn't stop there as Harkins correctly predicted Kentucky's magical run to the Final Four. He was one of just two people to have six Elite Eight teams. The bracket was so good that Harkins became the first entrant to clinch a pool before the Final Four since 2000. His championship pick of Florida didn't come to fruition but it didn't matter as not a single entrant had UConn in the Final Four yet alone cutting down the nets. Harkins finished an impressive 50-13 in his bracket and won by 10 points despite not having either finalist. Carson Morales finished in second while Nick Rizzi was third. Matt Roberg and Dave Szelong finished tied but were relegated to fourth and fifth, respectively, via the tiebreaker.
Of the pool's entrants, 28 correctly picked the Louisville Cardinals to win it all. Tops among those was Ryan Morris. While Morris wasn't in the minority as far as picking Louisville to win the championship, he was one of just four entrants to nail the Louisville/Michigan title game. Morris correctly pegged five Elite Eight teams as well as correctly having No. 12 seed Oregon in the Sweet 16. Dan Matt fell just a half point behind to finish in second place, while Randy Franklin, Jon Machnacki were third and fourth, respectively. Bugsy Sailor, who led most of the pool and placed despite having neither finalist, and Judie Barth tied for fifth to round out the prize winners.
In a year when Kentucky was the overwhelming favorite to win the title most people knew it would come down to correctly predicting the Wildcats' title game opponent. Tom Field went with Kansas and the Jayhawks didn't disappoint (although extremely close calls against Purdue, NC State and Ohio State gave Tom a few ulcers). Nothing else stands out about Tom's bracket except that he nailed six Elite Eight teams, only missing No. 4 Louisville and No. 7 Florida. The overall solid bracket plus a point in the "First Four" (Tom correctly picked BYU and South Florida to win their respective games) gave him a one-point victory over Kevin Hardy. Matt Field and Sarah Hilston tied for third while Aaron Fraser finished fifth.
Ricky Strain didn't believe UConn would be too tired to win the NCAA National Championship after winning five games in five days to claim the Big East Tournament title. So, Ricky penciled in the Huskies as his champ and Kemba Walker and UConn's defense did the rest. The Huskies' 53-41 win over Butler in the title game allowed Ricky to jump Theresa Spack and win the 2011 Hoops Pool championship by two points. His bracket wasn't remarkable in any way (just two Elite Eight teams), but it was just enough. His biggest gamble was taking No. 5 Arizona to the Sweet 16 and cashing in on Marquette's 11/6 upset over Xavier. Theresa Spack, thanks to having Butler in the finals, finished second. Andrew Hilston (the only other entry with UConn as the champ) finished third while Katie Flavin and Brady Palmer finished fourth and fifth, respectively. (Palmer won the tiebreaker over Kevin Hardy for the final prize spot).
Despite picking just one Final Four team, Steven Knowles' lone Final Four team, Duke, won the national championship and gave him a one-point victory in the 2010 Hoops Pool. In a year with some major surprises (ahem, Butler in the title game?!?!) Knowles did go out on a limb with Michigan State in the Elite Eight as well as injury-riddled Purdue making the Sweet 16. Those two picks might have been just enough to give him the best of 103 brackets entered into the pool. There weren't any initial head-shaking picks that make Knowles look like a genius, but a 39-24 overall record and a steady bracket throughout enshrines Knowles on the Wall of Champions. Ryan Morris and Christopher M. Mackinder finished 1 and 2 points back, respectively, in second and third place.
It was only fitting that in the biggest field in pool history, the one bracket with the correct Final Four won the championship. Wolfe's bracket was the only one out of 104 entries to correctly pick North Carolina, Michigan State, Connecticut and Villanova as the final foursome. Wolfe also was one of three people to correctly pick the championship outcome of North Carolina over Michigan State. That is what put Wolfe over the top, but the rest of his bracket wasn't too shabby either. Wolfe correctly nailed the biggest "upset" in the tournament by picking No. 12 Western Kentucky to beat No. 5 Illinois and also was in the correct minority to put Missouri in the Elite Eight. Interestingly enough, Wolfe missed every one of the 6/11 games in the first round. Wolfe didn't take a huge risk in the pool but it was his domination down the stretch that catapulted him to the top of the pool. Lisa Harkins and Jeff Przylucki finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Thanks to an all-around solid bracket, Christopher M. Mackinder claimed the 2008 Hoops Pool title. Mackinder was one of 13 entries to have Kansas win the title and the Jayhawks did just that with a thrilling OT win over Memphis. Mackinder successfully picked 48 of 63 games correctly and had one of nine brackets that shockingly predicted all four No. 1 seeds would reach the Final Four for the first time. Going into the title game, Mackinder's bracket was already guaranteed a spot in the top three. However, a Kansas win was a must to win the pool. Mackinder had 12 of the Sweet 16 teams correct but there wasn't a "big" upset which he predicted (for the record, there weren't many big upsets in this tournament). But, it didn't matter as Mackinder's bracket was No. 1 out of 86. Nick Rizzi and Ricky Strain finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
In his first year in the pool, Wayne Hilston quickly made his mark, setting an all-time pool record for most total tournament games picked correctly. With the help of his daughter Jenna, Wayne successfully picked 53 of the 63 tournament games, including 3 of the Final Four teams, and the Florida victory over Ohio State in the final. His 53 correct picks beat Tom Bradley's record from 2004. Even with that record, Wayne still needed a tiebreaker to separate a tie with Bob Heald for first place, but the high-scoring outcome in the championship game gave Wayne the edge. Jake Lloyd finished 3rd to round out the money trio.
Despite not picking the correct National Champion, Jeff Przylucki became the second person to win the Harkins-Mackinder-Spack March Madness Pool without having the correct title-game winner. In a field of 96 brackets, Przylucki's win came thanks to his bracket being one of two to have a pair of teams in the Final Four. Przylucki had second-seeded UCLA and third-seeded Florida, the eventual national runner-up and national champion, respectively, in his Final Four. He also had the Bruins in the title game, which was enough to seal his victory. Having 11 out of 16 Sweet 16 teams - including sixth-seeded West Virginia - also was a key reason Przylucki took first place. In all, Przylucki's bracket had 41 correctly picked games. Matt Field and Jeff Knight finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
It wasn't a coast-to-coast finish, but Fred Mackinder outlasted a pool-record field of 97 brackets in winning the title. Mackinder, who is also known as Papa Mack, had one of 18 brackets with at least three Final Four teams. He rolled the dice by having fourth-seeded Louisville in the Final Four to go along with North Carolina and Illinois. While it wasn't an uncommon title game pick, it was the correct one as Papa Mack had North Carolina beating Illinois. Just as important to his bracket was picking 28 of 32 first round games correctly and having 10 of 16 Sweet 16 teams, leading to a 47-16 record in his bracket and a well-deserved title. Brad Wolfe and Peter Schroeder finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Tom Bradley picked a remarkable 50 out of 63 games correctly in his bracket. Picking the second-seeded Connecticut Huskies to win the title wasn't how Bradley went coast-to-coast. It was the fact that he picked 29 of 32 first round games, had five of eight Elite Eight teams and three Final Four teams (He correctly picked top-seeded Duke and Oklahoma State to reach the Final Four) in his bracket. Bradley's biggest upset pick was taking 8th-seeded Alabama to knock of No. 1 seed Stanford in the second round. He also nabbed both 12-over-5 upsets (Pacific over Providence and Manhattan over Florida). We might never see another bracket with as many correct selections ever again. Nick Rizzi and Dave Szelong finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Jimmy Jahnke went out on a limb with his Final Four picks in 2003. He took top-seeded Texas (which, for the record, was the "weakest" No. 1 seed), No. 2 seed Kansas and No. 3 seeds Marquette and Syracuse to reach New Orleans. Well, much to Jahnke's pleasure, his picks turned out to be the perfect final foursome. While Jahnke didn't pick the correct champion - only two brackets actually had Syracuse winning it all - he did have Kansas reaching the championship game. His bracket also had 13 of 16 Sweet 16 teams and six of eight Elite Eight squads. In all, Jahnke picked 45 games correctly. Andrew Young and Brad Wolfe finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Matt Metzger outlasted an 81-bracket field to claim the 2002 title. With fifth-seeded Indiana's surprising run to the Final Four, all those brackets that had the Duke Blue Devils winning the title all of a sudden were no good. Metzger's pick of Maryland to win the title, coupled his other Final Four picks (second-seeded Oklahoma and top-seeded Kansas) gave him an unbeatable combination. It also helped that he had 12 of 16 Sweet 16 teams as well. His gutsy pick of having 12 th-seeded Missouri in the Elite Eight paid off big time. Metzger correctly picked 45 of the 63 games correctly. Chris Szelong and Andrew Levy finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Whenever Duke wins the National Championship, winning a pool doesn't come down to picking the correct champion. Winning this pool - or any pool for that matter - comes down to having an all-around solid bracket. David Storck did that, correctly picking the Final Four that included No. 1 seeds Duke and Michigan State, No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 3 seed Maryland. He also picked six of eight Elite Eight teams and had the correct championship matchup of Duke over Arizona. There wasn't any big sleeper pick that helped Storck win the pool title by one point, but picking 45 of the 63 games correctly meant he didn't need one. Bob Heald and Drew Styles finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Riding the local Michigan State Spartans path to the National Championship, Russ Clark claimed the top prize in the 39-bracket pool. If you recall the first NCAA Tournament of the new millennium, you'd remember that it was very unpredictable. Still, Clark was able to win the pool by picking 42 of 63 games correctly. While he only hit on two of his Elite Eight teams - that was a common number among all pool participants - picking 28 of 32 first round winners was the best in the pool. Jon Gagnon and Tony Antwan finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
In the first annual Harkins-Mackinder March Madness Pool, only two brackets had the correct champion in Connecticut. Not surprisingly, those two brackets finished 1-2 in the 37-bracket pool. Out of those two, Keith Schenkel's bracket easily took first by correctly picking three of the Final Four teams. Schenkel had top-seeds Duke, Michigan State and Connecticut in the Final Four and had the right title-game selection of UConn over Duke. It all added up to 41 correct picks. The gutsy pick of taking fourth-seeded Ohio State to the Elite Eight may have been the selection that handed Schenkel the first-ever title in the March Madness Pool. Joe Zullo and Dan Longpre finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.