As we all knew it would, our bracket of celebrity and pundit bracket predictions has come down to two people: Mike Lopresti and Norah O'Donnell. This is, of course, why our bracket of brackets has taken America by storm — strong Lopresti and O'Donnell partisans have been virulently supporting their favored choice in the streets and on the web. Hardly a minute has passed during which someone, somewhere has not asked, "So: Lopresti or O'Donnell?" It is rumored that our bracket of brackets has resulted in at least three divorces.
Oh, in case you were wondering, Mike Lopresti writes for USA Today. Oh, and somehow, ESPN's Dick Vitale may be the underdog who would win this thing if it were an office pool instead of a really meta contest. (Unless President Obama did.)
For those just joining us/tuning into the NCAA tournament, we created a bracket of picks from celebrities and pundits which we've been tracking with decreasing enthusiasm over the past few weeks. In early rounds, we watched favorites stumble and fall, while hated/anonymous choices continued forward.
Last time we checked in on the brackets bracket, we were heading into Round 3, the Exotic Eight of our 32 contestants. (We do not use the word "Elite" because 1) it is a trademark of the NCAA and 2) let's be honest here.) Since, we've seen two rounds come and go, leaving us with our two final competitors. Again, that's USA Today's Mike Lopresti, and CBS' Norah O'Donnell.
The final few rounds went (and are going) like this.
We'll just note a few interesting match-ups here. First of all, Joe Mantegna really stumbled. We held out hope for the long-time character actor, mostly because he's interesting and maybe people care about how he does in a made up bracket of brackets. But he only got a few games right, in part because he picked favorites in a year with a lot of upsets. He squeaked out of Round Three, and then was demolished.
The name Jeff Goodman, however, will live on through the ages. He will be celebrated in song; he will become a key element of thousands of tapestries. For Jeff Goodman toppled the mighty Dick Vitale. Vitale almost lost in Round One, but didn't, and everyone was sad. Now, everyone can be happy, at least until you read a little further down the page.
Norah O'Donnell of CBS News, meanwhile, built up such a big lead over the first two rounds that she was essentially uncatchable. Remember: our bracket of brackets is cumulative. Meaning that in the NCAA's Final Four, everyone gets five points added for a correct pick, and in the Final, six.
Which brings us to a bit of bad news: We can pretty much predict who will win. If Louisville wins its first game, Lopresti is our ultimate victor. If they don't, O'Donnell — who has no more viable teams in her bracket — wins. That's that. By the time the final game is played, we'll know who won the brackets bracket. Meaning that it's possible no one will care about an exciting Wichita State/Syracuse final, if you can believe it. (The NCAA knows very well how we feel. A Wichita State/Syracuse final? Who cares about that? Hint: The same people that care about a Mike Lopresti/Norah O'Donnell competition of any sort whatsoever.) (Which is to say: no one.)
As with the NCAA bracket, there's a bit of an oddity to how we set this whole thing up. We began by seeding everyone based on how their picks aligned with imaginary selection committee chair Nate Silver. And it was always possible that the predictor with the highest total score among our 32 pundits/celebs wouldn't be the one to emerge victorious, if he or she were to, for example, stumble in an early round. And sure enough, they didn't. Here are the 32 initial competitors, in order.
- 1. Barack Obama (President): 61 points
- 2. Dick Vitale (ESPN): 61 points
- 3. Norah O'Donnell (CBS This Morning): 60 points
- 4. Joe Lunardi (ESPN): 59 points
- 5. Jeff Goodman (College Basketball Insider ): 58 points
- 6. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics): 58 points
- 7. Gregg Doyel (CBS Sports): 57 points
- 8. Mike Lopresti (USA Today): 57 points
- 9. Jerry Palm (College Basketball Blogger): 56 points
- 10. Luke Winn (Sports Illustrated): 56 points
- 11. Matt Norlander (College Basketball Blogger): 55 points
- 12. Mateen Cleaves (Studio Analyst): 55 points
- 13. Pete Thamel (Sports Illustrated): 55 points
- 14. Garry Parrish (College Basketball Insider ): 54 points
- 15. Jay Bilas (ESPN): 54 points
- 16. Aisha Tyler (The Talk): 54 points
- 17. Bill Cowher (Former NFL coach): 54 points
- 18. Kroy Biermann (Atlanta Falcons): 53 points
- 19. Charlie Rose (CBS This Morning): 52 points
- 20. Chris Dobbertean (SBNation): 51 points
- 21. Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds): 51 points
- 22. Nicole Auerbach (USA Today): 50 points
- 23. Eddie Timanus (USA Today): 50 points
- 24. Kid President (YouTube star): 50 points
- 25. Jack Jones (Betfirms): 49 points
- 26. Stewart Mandel (Sports Illustrated): 48 points
- 27. Scott Gleeson (USA Today): 46 points
- 28. Wale (Musician): 46 points
- 29. Seth Davis (Sports Illustrated): 45 points
- 30. Kelli Anderson (Sports Illustrated): 44 points
- 31. Dennis Dodd (CBS Sports): 43 points
- 32. Sharon Osbourne (The Talk): 41 points
The president lost in Round One, yet he's still tied for the lead. Our two finalists are ranked eighth and third.
But that will also change. It turns out that people who do nothing but pay attention to sports are pretty good at predicting the outcome of sporting matches. Once we consider how many more possible points the competitors could win, the top six people are from ESPN, College Basketball Insider, the Celtics, USA Today (Lopresti!), and a college basketball blog.
And the person who could get the highest score of all? Our number one highest-scoring competitor?
Dick Vitale. For which we apologize in advance.