A tale of two coaches

In the 1995 NCAA Tournament, 16th seeded Western Carolina had two shots in the final seconds to either beat or tie top-seeded Purdue. Both shots "hit the back corner of the rim," and the upset bid was thwarted. A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed to this day, and rarely do they come so close.

Following that miss, WCU's assistant coach, Thad Matta, went on to bigger and better things. He's leading top-ranked Ohio State into this year's tourney, and raking in "nearly $2 million" for his toil. WCU's head coach was fired by a trigger-happy, upstart athletic director five years later. Phil Hopkins is now a junior high school coach and teacher in Walhalla, S.C., about 16 miles from where I type this morning. Although Walahlla sits in a beautiful location in the shadow of the Blue Ridge, the career chasm between the former WCU coaches couldn't be any wider. Pete Thamel tells this fascinating story in Sunday's NY Times.

In today's Times, David Leonhardt discusses academic studies of the choices people make in NCAA Bracket Pools. Avoiding the top one or two picks and local favorites may give you a bit more wiggle room when the unpredictable upsets roll in.