Facebook March Madness pools generate much student interest

by Kristin SimpsonStaff Writer

Simpson students put their March Madness brackets to the test as they competed against one another in Facebook pools.

The Simpson CAB created a pool open for all Simpson students to join. CAB offered prizes to attract members. The top three finishers were to be rewarded with $100, $50 and $25 prizes in the form of gift cards to the store of their choice.

Junior Lucas Iburg, a seasoned veteran of Facebook pools, said the dangling of prizes worked. It provided an incentive for him to join.

“I chose the CAB pool because it is a good way to compete against other people here on campus,” Iburg said.

Iburg stole first place in the CAB pool with 160 points. Freshman Jennifer Miller came in with a total of 156 points, putting her at second. And in third, with 151 points, was freshman Katie Thielen.

The University of Florida Gators won the men’s title, and the University of Tennessee Lady Vols won the women’s title.

Miller, who was a first-timer in the Facebook pools, certainly wasn’t expecting to do as well as she did. She claims that she guessed her picks and only joined the CAB pools because it was the first one she saw.

“For the most part I chose the higher seed,” Miller said. “Then I chose whichever one sounded better. I filled the brackets out myself, maybe asking my dad which team was better on a few of them, or asking my sister and going with the opposite one she chose.”

Senior Evan Schaefer, the creator of the Simpson College CAB pool, said the pool was just another program CAB was offering to the student body. He claims that it benefits CAB by getting its name out there in other ways than just the typical band and comedian.

“With most programs it’s a matter of attendance on whether or not students will show up,” Schaefer said. “But in the case of the March Madness pool, it was pretty easy because we offered free stuff, and there was really no work involved on our end.”

A total of 190 Simpson students tried their luck in the pool sponsored by CAB. The large turnout was unexpected by Schaefer.

“I was very surprised to see that I had 60 people in the pool within the first 30 minutes of it being made, and then it just began to climb afterwards,” Schaefer said.

This is not a shock to Brian Niemuth, head women’s basketball coach who took the Storm all the way to the Sweet 16. With the help of such venues as ESPN, collegiate basketball games can be watched all the time. The increased availability has brought recognition to women’s games. Hence, he believes that women’s NCAA basketball has grown in the last couple of years.

“I think March Madness rivals the attention the Superbowl gets,” Niemuth said. “I think it’s one of the top two sports events in the nation. I think the Superbowl No. 1 and March Madness, both men’s and women’s, is the No. 2 most watched sporting event.”

In regards to the Facebook pools, Niemuth thinks it would be fair and equitable to also have tournaments for women’s brackets. However, he appreciates what the pools can do for college basketball.

“I think there’s some fun and games in (the Facebook tournament), but I think there’s interest,” Niemuth said. “I think that anything that draws interest in a positive light is a good thing.”