Bruce Reiff, OH
Terry Coleman, BC
Ken Gutermuth, TX
Jon Diminnie, IN
Bruce Monnin, OH
Dennis Nicholson, NY
Debbie Gutermuth, TX
John Coussis, IL
Marvin Birnbaum, NY
Jerome Billones, VA
Landel Finally Lands Title
2005 champ Marvin Birnbaum had cold
dice as he opposes Dave Denton.
Carrie Lewis triumphed over Sean McCulloch
for her second trip to the Final Four.
A fixture in the Century for more than a decade, March
Madness was granted Legacy status in recognition of its past
success and continued popularity. At a time when many sports
games are feeling the squeeze from both Eurogames and resurgent
wargames, it continues to draw well -- in fact, attendance was
up about 15% from 2006. There are a number of reasons for this.
From the early days of the old Avaloncon, the event has been
blessed with dedicated GMs -- beginning with legendary GM John
Ellman -- and one of the most eclectic, competitive and quite
simply fun groups I've ever had the pleasure of gaming with,
year in and year out. The format doesn't hurt, either. It is
the quintessential WBC experience: Keep winning, and make the
Final Four; lose, and you're out at least until the next regional.
This year, we stayed with the successful formula of moving away
from pre-generated brackets for each of the four heats, as has
been the case for the past few years.
Where possible, basketball powers were placed in their traditional
regional, but all heats were organized with variety and balance
very much in mind. Anyone who pulled an upset was still rewarded
by their section of the draw opening up. This system has proved
popular, mainly because it gets everyone playing immediately,
with very few byes needed. The heats this year played briskly,
with two finishing in record time.
The first sign that participation might be up this year was
that 14 showed up for the first heat, generally one of the lightest
in attendance (and perhaps indicative of how many more gamers
show up on Tuesday than in prior years). Many of these would-be
John Woodens were taken out early, however, including the top-seeded
UCLA 73 squad led by Sean McCulloch. The winner of that game,
Dave Anderson, took the lowest-seeded team in the regional to
the regional finals, besting former champs Terry Coleman and
Ken Gutermuth along the way, until falling to defending champ
Jeremy Billones' red-hot New Mexico State 1970 team.
The Midwest Regional on Wednesday is generally the highest-attended
heat, and did not disappoint with a whopping 24 players, including
a half-dozen former champions. 2004 winner John Coussis looked
early on as if he might repeat former glories, after a 30-point
win in the first round. But then he ran into Steve Caler's inspired
play with Georgetown 85. Defying the old adage that John Thompson
teams couldn't score, Steve played aggressively, and fought his
way through one opponent after another, until falling just short
against Terry Coleman's Providence 73 team in the regional final.
Bruce Reiff opened play in Heat 3 with the top seed, Arkansas
78, a team with a powerful bench -- exactly the type of team
Bruce plays better than anyone. But in one of the biggest upsets
of the tournament, the event's four-time champ was taken down
by Jim Bell. Jim's 1965 UCLA team kept rolling until Carrie Lewis
stopped them in the semi-finals in a barnburner, 105-101. In
the other bracket, Chris Bauch lost a close game to Marvin Birnbaum
in a game where the refs played a huge role: all in all, seven
technical fouls were played, with Chris' Louisville team having
one in hand when the game ended.
Meanwhile, Don Greenwood made a welcome return appearance
for the first time in years. Despite a little rust, Don managed
to beat both Terry Coleman and former Consul Devin Flawd before
falling to a resurgent Sean McCulloch. In the regional finals,
however, Sean's defensive Georgetown squad couldn't slow down
Carrie Lewis, who returned to the Final Four for the first time
in years with a hard-earned 75-69 victory.
The final heat brought 16 coaches and a mix of new players
(some of whom had just learned the game at the demo earlier in
the week) to go with the usual veterans. Two Hall-of-Famers faced
off in the second round, and Bruce Reiff's outside shooting was
just enough for his NC State 83 team to overcome Ken Gutermuth's
Cincy 61 squad. Harry Flawd's reward for beating 2001 champ Dennis
Nicholson was that he had to play Terry Coleman's high-flying
Loyola-Chicago 63 team in the semis. Although Terry managed to
hold off Harry, his team couldn't stop Derek Landel in the regional
In the Final Four, Derek's North Carolina 97 team looked like
an even match with Carrie Lewis' Texas Western 66 squad. Carrie's
balance was evident, as she kept getting scoring from unexpected
places and had a nine-point lead at halftime. But foul trouble
for Carrie and a 52-point explosion in the second half proved
just enough for Derek to triumph 89-85, in probably the best
game of the tournament.
The other Final Four showdown was an exact rematch of last
year, with Terry taking on the defending champ, Jeremy -- Terry
even gping so far as yo have the same team again. Unfortunately
for Terry, the result was the same, as the reigning champ played
a box-and-one on Terry's ace scorer in both halves, and Terry's
backups never took advantage of the gimmick defense. Jeremy now
appeared poised to repeat.
However, Derek was not to be denied in the Final. Earlier
in the tournament, he had overcome a 20-point deficit to defeat
Reiff, and it seemed his team could overcome any obstacle. In
a turnabout from the previous game, this time it was Jeremy's
top scorer who was slowed down just enough in each half, as Derek
won by 11 points.
During the first eight years of March Madness events,
there were only four different winners. Now, there have been
eight different winners in a row, and seven of them have won
the title for the first time. This shows both how difficult this
title is to win, as well as how much the level of competition
has improved overall in the last few years. I offer my congratulations
to not only the winner, Derek, and to the other Final Four participants,
but to all of the players, who make this my favorite event to
run every year. See you next year.
By Email 2007-08
GM Bruce Monnin won his second championship in this event,
surviving a 38 player field in the fifth annual BPA March
Madness PBeM Championship. Monnin's 1983 NC State squad
defeated Pete Staab's 1985 St. Johns team 89-84 in the final
game, the third five point spread for the Wolfpack in the tournament.
Both teams in the Final were the #17 seeds in their respective
brackets, proving you do not need to grab one of the top teams
in the draft to do well in the tournament.
Bruce's 1983 NC State team reached the Final by winning every
game by at least five points, and comfortably defeated Harry
Flawd's 1981 Indiana squad by 13 in the semi-finals. In
the other bracket, Bob Menzel consistently won close games, triumphing
by five points in the Sweet Sixteen, three in the Elite Eight
and six in the semi-final game over John Coussis' 1966 Kentucky
The Final, saw a wild high scoring first half, as both teams
posted 49 points. Bruce's Wolfpack had a slight advantage
as Pete's Redmen (they did not become the Red Storm until years
later) suffered a first half foul on its bench. The second half
had many positions resolved quickly. The key resolution
was the left forward, as NC State's Thurl Bailey outscored St.
Johns Walter Berry. A St. Johns timeout led to a reroll
which was also won by Bailey, this time leading to a foul on
Berry. The resulting six point advantage held through the
Final Four MVP is given to champion NC State 1983's left guard
Dereck Wittenberg. He averaged 20.7 points a game in the
tournament and posted 24 points in the championship game.
Here is the rest of the All Tournament Team:
All Tournament First Team:
Center Cedric Maxwell (NC Charlotte 1977) B Rating
Left Forward Mark Aguirre (DePaul 1979) A Rating
Right Forward David Thompson (NC State 1974) A Rating
Left Guard Jimmy Collins (New Mexico State 1970)
A Rating 30.5 ppg
Right Guard Louie Dampier (Kentucky 1966) B Rating
Bench Michigan State 2001 A Rating 30.0 ppg
Definitely an old school all tournament team, with all five
player from 1979 teams or earlier. No members of last year's
All Tournament Team repeated this year.