Sweet Sixteen: Nicknames Win

These ‘click to pick’ online NCAA basketball pools are, like many modern conveniences, a blessing and a curse. They make things much easier for sure, but they are cold and impersonal. I miss the crumpled up sheets in which we wrote nicknames of the teams instead of the proper school names: “Nova,” “Zags,” “Mizzou.” I also used to like making last minute changes by crossing out the words. The online system is both more complicated and less permanent. A sheet showed its history, and once it was turned in, it was done.

I was thinking of this when, just before the games tipped off last Thursday, I made the change to have Mizzou beat Marquette. Perhaps I would have chosen Mizzou from the beginning if they weren’t “Missouri.” It was a good revision. Missouri won a close one with a crazy finish, sealed when Marquette’s Lazar Hayward stepped over the line while making an inbounds pass with 5.5 seconds left. It was a terrible way to lose, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Hayward, even as I basked in the glory of my revised pick.

Meanwhile Dan O’Hara Sr. took sole control of first place in The Modern Spectator pool with an excellent 30-point second round. His son, Dan, earned 32 points (tied for best in the round with E.J. Murphy and Nathan Janda), putting Dan Jr. just three points behind his pop in the overall standings. The other family powerhouse is the Kollers. Lil Lucy is in second place, two points back, and Rory and Jim aren’t far behind.

Obama climbed up to the middle of the table. Will it save his budget?

I’ve noticed that my fondness for nicknames is also shared by a number of jersey makers, who don’t stand on ceremony. Several of the teams who are still in action have unorthodox names on the fron of their shirts. “Mizzou,” of course, takes on Memphis; “State” (aka Michigan State) takes on Kansas; and “Orange” (Syracuse) takes on Oklahoma.

Rest up, and get ready.


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