Wednesday, March 18, 2020
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Issue # 25.1 "25 Years: The Entries"
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EL SEGUNDO, CA (smt)- Could a non-power 5 school such as Dayton, Gonzaga, or San Diego St have won it all? We'll never know. Well, Sportsline ran a simulation and Dayton won (yay, Flyers). This is the start of a series of updates reflecting on the 25 years of our HWCI NCAA pool and a peak behind the curtain of how the pool is run. Kind of a nice number to do so, so thanks NCAA for cancelling this year's tournament due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns. Whereas pro athletes can wait this out and as leagues have previously self-inflicted on their seasons voluntarily (NBA lockout 8 months in 2011-12 (82->66 game season), NHL lockout 1994-95 (84->48 game season), NHL lockout 2004-05 (cancelling entire season and Stanley Cup), MLB strike in 1994 (cancelling the World Series!), NFL strike 7 weeks in 1982 (16->9 game season)), these amateur athletes have worked hard for years for an opportunity to play in March Madness and will move on to their next phase in life (attempt to go pro, graduate school, the working world).
When CBS (or that awful year it was on TBS) finally gets through announcing the bracket on Selection Sunday, where feasible, David and myself are busy reading up the homepage (http://www.hwci.com/ncaa) for people to enter their picks. Sometimes, this is very late Sunday (or very early Monday) and sometimes, like in 2006 where a hard drive crash kept the online entry disabled until 1 pm Monday or in 2014 where java security errors kept the updated form down until 2 am Tuesday, we experience anti-technology days that wreak havoc on our sanity!
Once the online form is up (BTW, the first java-problem prone online entry form was in 2002 and the much improved form was created by David in 2015), I keep track of when we receive everyone's entry. Since 1999, I've broken it down to Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning as shown in the table above. We only receive about 1/3 (32.9%) of our total entries by midnight Tuesday and receive almost half (45.1%) of our total entries on Wednesday. In 4 of the past 5 years we have received 37-38 entries in that 9 hour period Thursday morning. Last year we received a record 28 entries on Monday which led our second-highest total ever (162). Our record breaking year in 2017 (178) saw 57 entries come in on Tuesday (the next highest is just 42).
Since we went to the online entry form in 2002, we get a time-stamped (in Central Time so have to convert to Pacific) email shown on the left. From 2002-2014, we got the email as you submitted on the first page to get into the bracket; since then, we get the email after you submit your bracket (form info now on the bracket page). So I've been graphing when we get your entries from before 9 pm Sunday until technically 9:15 am Thursday. That covers 85 hours. As you can see from the graph below, it is pretty consistent when entries come in, it just depends on the magnitude each year. Thus, if you look at the average (black hollow dotted line), it pretty much tracks every year. You can see our record-breaking year of 2017 is much higher up than the rest over each time period while 2003 (our lowest since 2001) kept pace until Thursday where it flattened out more than expected (63 entries). You can also see when you all sleep as the flat time periods correspond to about 12am-6am Mon/Tue/Wed but not Thursday as we get a good number of entries past midnight.
We had a 7-year streak ('96-'02) and 9-year streak ('04-'12) where entries matched or increased every year. Our biggest dip was in 2018 (-22 from 178 to 156) and our biggest spike was in 2017 (+29 from 149 to 178). We had the most people participate in 2017 (124) while obviously, our first year was the least (12). We have had at least 100 entries 2008 and 100 unique players since 2014. And graphing the number of entries, the 4-order polynomial projection has been the best fit since 2008 as shown to the right.
We had the most new people in our pool in 2002 (28) and our least in 2011 (7). In 2014 we had a record 90.6% of our entries "return entries" who had played before and have been above 70% since 2004. We pride ourselves in having people play year after year, hopefully meaning they enjoy our pool, and had 79 entries each play in the past 5 years. 96 entries have played in at least 9 of our 25 pools. 287 times someone entered twice and 105 times someone has entered three times. Robinson C has submitted the most entries with 54 in his 19 years playing. Randy E (5 years) and Mike W (4 years) have submitted 3 entries each year.
Only David and I have played in all 25. Eric P returned after a 14-year absence ('02, '17), Yasmin J returned last year after an 11-year absence ('07), and Michael M and Steve M each returned after a 8-year absence ('08, '17). I don't know how they found us again but glad they did. Jeff L ('01, '05, '10, '14), Joseph G ('04, '06, '12, '14), Aaron S ('10, '12, '15, '17) and Joe R ('10, '12, '16, '19) have each played in 4 non-consecutive years and Juan J has curiously played every 3 years ('13, '16, '19).
There have been 9 Michaels, 7 Davids, 7 Jeffs, 7 Johns, and 7 Mikes in our pool. Though not a hard and fast rule, I lean towards not publishing any last names unless they are in the nickname. Thus, there are 11 FirstName-LastInitial pairs (e.g., Chris B and Chris2 B, Jeff H and Jeff2 H, Jeff L and Jeff2 L) that have to be differentiated. It's also why I tend to use formal names (e.g., Samuel vs Sam, Jeffrey vs Jeff, Blakeley vs Blake) and middle initials or names (e.g., Linh C T and Linh T) so I don't have as many duplicate FirstName-LastInitial pairs. There have also been at least 8 name changes (6 female, 2 male) that I have figured out. The one last name we never did get was Anna C who actually won the pool in 1998 and David forgot to ask her for her last name (fun fact: David is now married to an Anna). The shortest first name is "J" (J E).
We are now on Twitter (@HWCI_Pools). Please follow! I will post using #hwcincaa mini-updates during the day so you can follow without being on Twitter (and if you are, please use #hwcincaa). Please join our Facebook HWCI NCAA Pool Group or post comments on our blog.
Tids & Bits - we have had 493 total unique entries from 365 different people... in 25 years, we have had 2,365 entries (90.4 average) from 1,868 players (74.9 average)... we have had one entry play 24 years, one 23, two 22, two 21, and three 20... 196 of 493 entries (39.8%) have appeared in just one pool... our player # 0, the "Seedings" baseline (if you picked by best seed every game) used the AP poll for its Final Four picks from 1995 to 2003 and the Ranked Seeds listing since it was implemented in 2004... Nelson B was the only player from our first pool who never played again... there have also been 6 Seans, 5 Erics, and 5 Tims... there are at least 2 name changes (Devi M and Van P) that I know of but they have not participated in the pool under their new last name yet... in terms of last names in general (related or not), there have been 8 Johnsons, 8 Kims, 6 Dunigans, 6 Lees, and 6 Tamashiros... the other dup pairs are David W, Eric S, Jane C, John B, John W, Mark C, Mark S, and Michael M... Poor Atlanta as it looks like they will have to wait until 2027 at the earliest to host the Final Four even though it will near NCAA HQ in Indy next year and 2026 - one of those should go to Atlanta... soccer's EURO 2020 was postponed until 2021 meaning our 3rd HWCI Uefa EURO pool will also not happen this year... Stay safe!
42 entries myself in 25 years, won money in 5 but not since '03; and just 1 of 4 Scotts...