97th Percentile

To the surprise of nobody, I did not win the Yahoo Tournament Pick'em contest. Apparently, ignoring NCAA basketball for four months and then spending five minutes filling out a bracket is not a recipe for success. My single tournament bracket did, however, finish 56,606 out of the 1.9 million brackets that were submitted to Yahoo, thereby placing me in the 97th percentile overall.

I also finished 34th out of the 1,348 people who labeled themselves as -- excuse me while I swallow the bile that just creapt up my throat -- Fans of Holy Cross. That's right, I stuck with my Patriot League roots when picking a fanbase to join. And speaking of the Patriot League, if you're a fan of college sports in any way, you really should read "The Last Amateurs" by John Feinstein. It's a very entertaining and interesting look at a season of Division 1 NCAA Basketball in the Patriot League and, best of all, my alma mater, Lafayette College, won the League Title the year Feinstein was following them around and they almost, almost came close to knocking off Temple in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Army, Navy, Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell, Holy Cross and Colgate: these seven colleges make up the Patriot League, basketball's smallest Division I conference. In this book, NPR commentator and bestselling sportswriter Feinstein (A Season on the Brink, The Majors, etc.) gives an exhaustive account of the Patriot League's 1999-2000 season. He illustrates that exciting basketball can be played in front of crowds that can be as small as 1,000 and that rivalries such as Lafayette-Lehigh can be just as intense as those played by colleges in major conferences on national television.

But Feinstein's intent is to do more than just provide details about the year's important games; he uses the Patriot League as an example of "what college sports are supposed to be about." Feinstein maintains that the conference's members are among the few colleges that can call their players `student-athletes' with a straight face. Patriot League colleges hold athletes to rigorous entrance and academic standards and most scholarships are offered on a need-basis (although some schools are giving a limited number of basketball scholarships). Moreover, players regularly attend class since they are smart enough to know that there is little chance they will
be playing ball at the professional level after graduation. Feinstein's portraits of these players and their coaches, his exploration of why they stay in the game and their encounters playing against soon-to-be-pro athletes of other teams bring an unusual emotional depth to this account--which, like Feinstein's earlier books, should make a run toward, or on, the lists. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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