The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is over, and what havoc the upsets have wrought!  Three of the regions have at least one seed 8th or lower still alive, and the wacky Southwest region has the 10, 11, and 12 seeds still alive – ensuring that a 10 seed or worse will make it to the elite 8.

Virginia Commonwealth won three games in a span three games in a span of six days, beating USC in the play-in game (now known as a “first round” game) before beating #6 seed Georgetown and finally thrashing #3 seed Purdue 94-76 on Sunday.  The Rams face the Seminoles of Florida State (10 seed) in the next round.

Michigan made tournament history in their first round game, becoming the first team to ever win a tournament game without making a single free throw.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, though – the Wolverines only attempted one free throw.

I went out on a limb this year and picked a lot of upsets in my bracket.  Unfortunately, I picked the upsets that didn’t happen, while missing the ones that did.  While I correctly picked Butler to make it to the Sweet 16, I also predicted that Belmont and Bucknell would still be dancing.  Akron and Princeton also let me down, failing to win their games against Notre Dame and Kentucky.

Overall, my bracket is in horrible shape – but it can still be saved.  I have San Diego State cutting down the nets on April 4.  If that happens, I can stll emerge victorious.  Aztec Nation, I am one of you!

Disappointing sports weekend for the state of Iowa

While none of the men’s teams from Iowa made the NCAA tournament, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Iowa all made the field for the women’s tournament.  Unfortunately, they were all wiped out in the first round.  I forgot that the ISU women’s game was on ESPN2 until halfway through the second half.  I switched over the game, only to see Marist in full control.

At the NCAA wrestling tournament, Iowa State’s Jonathan Reader won a title in an otherwise disappointing weekend for the Cyclones.  The only bright spot was the fact that arch-rival Iowa was thwarted in their quest to win a third straight national title, as the Hawkeyes finished behind Penn State and Lehigh.  Even that silver lining had a cloud, as Penn State was lead by former Iowa State wrestler and coach Cael Sanderson.  The Nittany Lions won their first title in more than 50 years.

Get your baseball geek on

A friend of mine has developed a baseball simulation engine.  You pick a pitcher and a hitter, and he’ll spit out the results of a full season’s worth of plate appearances.  The app is now available as a web app and on Facebook, and will soon be available for Android.  More details from the mouth of the developer:

AtBatSim puts advanced simulation into the hands of baseball fans. Simulate at-bats between an MLB pitcher and hitter of your choice. While you’re watching a game, try out the simulator to get the inside track on what might happen next.

Sabermetric research has shown that pitchers have limited influence on what happens when a hitter puts a ball in play. This simulator puts an average defense on the field, and lets them react to hit balls. Fast players beat out more ground balls and stretch outfield hits into doubles and triples more often. You can simulate 700 plate appearances in seconds and get one detailed play as an example.

AtBatSim is available on the web http://www.atbatsim.com and as a Facebook app at http://apps.facebook.com/atbatsim/ . AtBatSim is targeting a release of an Android App by Opening Day 2011.

You can help by trying it out and offering feedback so the ratings and simulator improve over time…and of course by spreading the word on Facebook and telling your friends and co-workers about it.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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