march madness

Updated Sept. 8, 2016

2015 WBC Report

2016 Status: pending 2016 GM commitment

Scott Nerney, RI

2015 Champion

Event History

1992 Bruce Reiff 14
1993 Terry Coleman 18
1994 Terry Coleman 37
1995 Ken Gutermuth 46
1996 Jon Diminnie 41
1997 Bruce Reiff 47
1998 Bruce Reiff 44
1999 Bruce Reiff 49
2000 Bruce Monnin 44
2001 Dennis Nicholson 46
2002 Debbie Gutermuth 39
2003 Ken Gutermuth 45
2004 John Coussis 42
2005 Marvin Birnbaum 45
2006 Jeremy Billones 34
2007 Derek Landel 39
2008 Terry Coleman 41
2009 Terry Coleman 43
2010 Bruce Reiff 49
2011 Marvin Birnbaum 54
2012 Tom Browne 46
2013 Marvin Birnbaum 51
2014 Andy Lewis 44
2015 Scott Nerney 54

PBeM Event History
2004 Peter Staab 30
2005 Jim Gutt 30
2006 Bruce Monnin 32
2007 Jeffrey Martin 40
2008 Bruce Monnin 38
2009 Aran Warszawski 38
2010 Dennis Nicholson 42
2011 Bob Menzel 44
2012 Bruce Monnin 46
2013 Derek Landel 49
2014 Robert Kircher 44
2015 Debbie Gutermuth 48
2016 Marvin Birnbaum 49


 Rank Name                From Last  Sum
  1. Bruce Monnin          OH   15  166
  2. Marvin Birnbaum       NY   16  148
  3. Terry Coleman         CA   15  117
  4. Ken Gutermuth         TX   13  104
  5. Derek Landel          NY   14   96
  6. Dennis Nicholson      NY   13   93
  7. Harry Flawd           PA   15   81
  8. John Coussis          IL   08   79
  9. Debbie Gutermuth      TX   15   69
 10. Peter Staab           PA   09   66
 11. Bruce Reiff           OH   10   64
 12. Sean McCulloch        OH   14   58
 13. Jeremy Billones       VA   14   54
 14. Jeff Martin           CT   16   42
 15. Aran Warszawski       il   14   42
 16. Tom Browne            PA   15   40
 17. Bob Menzel            VT   11   38
 18. Jim Gutt              TX   08   36
 19. Roger Taylor          VA   13   33
 20. Scott Nerney          RI   15   30
 21. Jim Bell              MD   06   30
 22. Bruno Passacantando   CT   09   27
 23. Chris Bauch           LA   16   35
 24. Peter Stein           OH   13   25
 25. Andy Lewis            MD   14   24
 26. Jeff Finkeldey        OH   12   21
 27. Robert Kircher        RI   14   20
 28. Bryan Collars         SC   16   18
 29. Steve Caler           PA   13   18
 30. Bill Edwards          VA   12   18
 31. Marshall Collins      CT   09   18
 32. Gene Gibson           MD   06   18
 33. Paul Risner           TN   05   18
 34. Michael Destro        NJ   01   18
 35. Bob Hamel             CT   16   15
 36. Mark Yoshikawa        CA   10   15
 37. Carrie Lewis          DE   07   15
 38. John Ellmann          MD   05   15
 39. Debbie Bell           MD   11   14
 40. Daniel Leader         MA   11   14
 41. David Anderson        PA   07   13
 42. Nicole Reiff          OH   16   12
 43. Wes Lewis             DE   15   12
 44. Oliver Searles        WA   15   12
 45. Samantha Berk         PA   14   12
 46. Dave Denton           NY   10   12
 47. Alan Heath            MD   08   12
 48. Gordon Elgart         CA   03   12
 49. Keith Hunsinger       OH   08   10
 50. Johnny Wilson         IL   15    9
 51. Robert Rund           MA   12    9
 52. Kaarin Engelmann      it   11    9
 53. Chris Palermo         NY   14    8
 54. Max Jamelli           PA   14    8
 55. Stuart Tucker         MD   99    8
 56. Sarah Bauch           TX   13    6
 57. Paul Gaberson         PA   12    6
 58. Ananda Gupta          MD   03    6
 59. Mike Pacheco          CA   11    4
 60. Joe Yaure             PA   15    3
 61. Bob Jamelli           PA   08    3
 62. Ric Manns             IN   05    3
 63. Owen Kyrollos         NC   14    2
 64. Don Greenwood         MD   10    2
2015 Laurelists Returning Laurelists: 2

Bruce Monnin, OH

Wes Lewis, DE

Johnny Wilson, IL

Terry Coleman, CA

Harry Flawd, PA

Past Winners

Bruce Reiff, OH
'92, '97-'99, '10

Terry Coleman, BC

Ken Gutermuth, TX
1995, 2003

Jon Diminnie, IN

Bruce Monnin, OH

Dennis Nicholson, NY

Debbie Gutermuth, TX

John Coussis, IL

Marvin Birnbaum, NY
2005, 2011, 2013

Jerome Billones, VA

Derek Landel, NY

Thomas Browne, PA

Andy Lewis, DE

Scott Nerney, RI

John Coussis vs the Plaque King

Jeremy Billones vs Roger Taylor

Carrie Lewis vs Samantha Berk
in the ladies version of the final four

Peter Staab vs Danny Lewis

Upsets Abound as Overtime
Comes to the Final Four ...

They say you can’t go home again. While that might be true for certain things, I tend to be an optimist, especially where March Madness at WBC is concerned. Like an aging shooting guard who feels he can still hit that 3-pointer at the buzzer, we always seem to flirt with the magic number of 50 players.

Most years, we just miss that milestone. And dropping the poorly attended Thursday heat for an additional heat on Friday was seen by a few as confirmation that maybe, just maybe, the best days of MMS were behind it. My feeling has always been that if you do things for the right reasons, good things will happen. I’m not always right, but in this case the optimists seem to be vindicated. Not only did we have more than 50 players for the third time, we also matched our all-time attendance of 54—pretty good for a game that’s been out of print for nearly two decades.

Similarly, not all of the new Final Four teams in the real world met the GM’s high standards for the March Madness tourney—like all Cinderella teams, their ranking has to be neither too high nor too low. Rather than panic, I simply added some more classic teams that were just the perfect fit, to add some freshness for this year’s field. Now, the teams available for the MMS event total more than 130—some going all the way back to the days of short shorts, crew cuts, and set shots.

The variety wasn’t limited to the teams, either. Among the assembled coaches were the usual collection of sports games junkies, but there was a definite uptick in both Eurogamers and wargamers this year. Both of the latter seem to pick up the game mechanics pretty quickly, but they also find MMS a bit more challenging than they might have expected.

For example, Bryan Collars had a good team, but his Cincinatti ’62 Bearcats were no match for Sam Berk, who led her San Francisco 1956 squad to two wins, demonstrating that her Final Four appearance last year was no fluke. Likewise, Mark Mitchell and the highly ranked UCLA fast break of 1975 was no match for the defense of Danny Lewis and the aptly-named Wichita State 2013 Shockers. Danny would go on to beat 4-time champ Terry Coleman, and Roger Taylor, before running into the Johnny Wilson juggernaut in the regional semifinals.

It was hardly a surprise that Johnny would take a Louisville team, given the number of years he lived there. And given that Dr. Wilson had the number 2 seed, it was reasonable that he outlasted his fellow Reverend, Keith Hunsinger. What had all of us reaching for our heart medicine though was when Johnny also beat Sam, Danny, and then three-time champ Marvin Birnbaum, on his way to the Final Four. We’re not sure who bought the first tasty adult beverage for Johnny that night, but there were a lot of folks who were happy to offer…

In the second heat on Wednesday, we had 27 players, an excellent turnout for a 9 AM start. Scott Nerney fell prey to the Curse of the Top Seed, losing in the first round, but he also knocked off a lot of rust (which would really help him later). Doug Porterfield took time off from Ace of Aces to eliminate Johnny (who admittedly was still flying high after winning Heat 1). This left an opening for Sean McCulloch, who responded by winning his first two games.

Sean then played Bruce Monnin in a game that had one of the most bizarre coaching decisions I’ve ever seen. Late in the game, Bruce was nursing a lead, and inexplicably played a Zone to void one of Sean’s cards. The only problem was that Sean had a three-pointer, which was doubled in effectiveness, due to Bruce’s Zone! Bruce survived the scoring rolls, but probably had to field a few anxious calls from alumni after that game.

Meanwhile, Terry Coleman had been quietly moving through the upper half of the bracket, with wins over Jeff Mullet, Max Jamelli, and Roger Taylor. He seemed eager to face Bruce’s multiple coaching personalities, but Monnin didn’t try anything esoteric—his superior defense put an end to Terry’s triple digit scores, and placed Bruce in the Final Four.

Heat 3 was more of the same, with Monnin beating all comers to make another regional Final. In the ‘Battle of the Bruces’ he even beat Reiff, to deny him a chance to extend his record of MMS titles. But then Monnin ran into something even more intimidating -another one of the Lewis family, who in recent years have come close to making March Madness their family event. Following on his dad’s title last year, Wes decided to make his own Final Four. After all, if you can beat your mom and dad playing at home, why not win at WBC? In a wild game, Wes outscored Bruce, and set up a showdown in the Final Four with…

Scott Nerney, he of the ignominious first-round defeat in Heat 2. Scott learned his lessons well, and coached an offensive-heavy team to win after win. Constantly pushing the tempo, Scott took out the top seed, John Shaheen, and perennial Final Four contestant Harry Flawd to win the heat and make his first Final Four.

As one would expect from two offensive powerhouses, defense went out the door when Wes met Scott, and the fans certainly got their money’s worth. The game fittingly went into overtime. Wes played well and scored 99 points. However, his reliance on a tight man-to-man defense finally caught up to him, with two fouls in the extra period. Once the smoke had cleared from the dice, Scott had scored a total of 105, putting him in the title game.

The other national semifinal was exuberance vs. experience. Amazingly, prior to this year, Johnny had not won a game in March Madness since Hunt Valley. But he had all of the momentum on his side during his current streak, coaching a team whose strengths he understood very well indeed. Bruce seemed sober after his loss to Wes in Heat 3, and quietly determined. In the end, Bruce’s focus and veteran savvy in the clutch won out. But I doubt it will be another ten years before Johnny wins another MMS game.
All of the teams in the MMS tourney are pretty well matched, but the Final was particularly close. Both teams had a big ‘A’ scorer along with a very good number 2 threat, and B defenses. Each team scored more than 50 points by halftime, and it looked like another photo finish might be in order. Bruce tried to employ the Run & Gun in the second half, but it didn’t work as well for him as it had throughout the tourney for Scott. In the end, Bruce’s Michigan squad couldn’t keep up with the Providence bucket-filling machine, and Scott pulled away, 114-98.

Congratulations to Scott for his first title. Good luck next year (it’s tough to repeat, trust me). And kudos to Bruce as well—even though he fell just short of his first over the board MMS title in 15 years, he still has those three PBeM titles to console him.

Also, thanks to everyone who attended the demo, and to all of you, veterans and newcomers alike, who continue to support one of the most fun-to-run events at WBC. We hope to see you all back here (with a few friends) to join in our summertime version of March Madness next year. Until then, I’ll be researching to see what new teams we can add for our new Final Four venue in Seven Springs.

Play By Email 2016

A record field of 49 players entered the 13th running of the BPA March Madness PBeM tournament, 97 games later we had our 11th different champion, as Marvin Birnbaum became the fifth player to achieve the WBC/PBeM championship double. Also scoring laurels were Bob Hamel, Chris Bauch, Nicole Reiff and Jeff Martin who finished third through sixth respectively. 

Marvin survived six rounds with his 1956 San Francisco team to earn the championship plaque, after finishing in the runner-up position last year. His average winning score was 80-68, a 12 point margin of victory.

Marvin’s closest wins were by five points, a 72-67 victory over Ken Gutermuth’s Louisville 1983 squad in the Sweet 16 and a 70-65 win over Nicole Reiff’s Indiana 2013 in the Elite Eight. He then defeated Bob Hamel’s Indiana State 1979 99-77 in the Final Four to reach the championship game.

Runner-up Bryan Collars’ 1st seeded Louisville 2014 had an even easier run through the tournament. His closest game was an eight-point win over Robert Kircher’s Arizona 2015 in the Sweet 16, followed by a ten-point 76-66 victory in the Elite Eight over Jeff Martin’s Louisville 1975. Bryan then defeated Chris Bauch’s Kansas 1971 83-70 in the Final Four to win his half of the bracket.

In any March Madness game, there is the possibility of eight sets of scoring rolls per half (six positions and two timeout rerolls). In the first half of the Final, six of the eight scoring rolls had a differential of at least four between the two dice. In other words, six sets of die rolls were either 6-1, 6-2 or 5-1. Thanks to four of the six going in favor of Marvin, he was able to jump out to a 42-34 halftime lead. However, Marvin had led by six points at the half in last year’s Final, so he certainly was not feeling overly confident at this point.

Bryan wasted no time starting the second half comeback.  The Left Guard was resolved first, and Bryan outscored Marvin 11-2 to take a one point lead. However, he had to use his Timeout, in a wise move as it gained him eight points. The Center was resolved next, this time with Marvin effectively using his Timeout to gain eight points and retake the lead, before Bryan played a Technical Foul to tie the game at 55-55.

Byran survived the next two resolutions at the Right Guard and the Bench with only losing two points to Marvin, partly due to his play of Boxing Out negating Marvin’s Second Shots.  However, the Left Forward came up next, and Marvin was on the beneficial end of another 5-1 set of die rolls to vault him ahead 70-63.   The game was pretty much decided, and Marvin’s Right Forward outscored the opposition by five points for the final 76-64 victory.

The key player in the game may have been Marvin’s San Francisco Left Forward Mike Farmer. A “D” rated performer, Farmer scored 11 points while holding Bryan’s “D” rated Luke Hancock to just a single point.

The tournament will be restarted this coming autumn.  Come join us in determining next year’s PBeM champion of the BPA March Madness world.

GM Terry Coleman [12th year] NA NA

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