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Mascots Help Predict NCAA Winners


And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is with us. What's going on today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. Well, as we promised, we're going to reveal the winner of our TMM March Madness Basketball Bracket Picking Contest and, Michel, unfortunately, it's not you or me that won.

MARTIN: It was close, though.

OMAR: It was close.

MARTIN: It was close.

OMAR: We did all right.

MARTIN: Yeah, yeah.

OMAR: We did OK.

MARTIN: I did better than you.

OMAR: You did.

MARTIN: Yeah, I know. I just had to get that on the record.

OMAR: I got you next year though.

MARTIN: OK. Well, the envelope, please.

OMAR: Here you are.


MARTIN: And the winner is Marcus Gilmer, from Chicago. Ammad, from Chicago. Isn't that your hometown?

OMAR: Yes. I did know Marcus Gilmer when I lived in Chicago. He blogs for the Chicago Sun Times. Back then, he was with The Onion AV Club, you know, a little comedy kind of guy. So I asked him how he feels now that he is the TMM champion.

MARCUS GILMER: This is one of the greater things to ever happen, I think. I'm going to print out my bracket and I'm going to post it on my wall at my house. It's exhilarating, really, to be at the top of the food chain.

OMAR: Do you have any words of wisdom out there for people who, next year, might be trying to get in here and, you know, claim the championship?

GILMER: You know, I think, if it comes right down to it and you're just completely undecided, especially in these match-ups that could go either way, a lot of times, a good way to do it is to pick which mascot would win in a fight, I think. You know, take San Diego State, Oklahoma, for example. I went with my gut and picked Oklahoma, but you know, an Aztec warrior would easily defeat a Sooner in hand-to-hand combat and San Diego State proved that by winning that game.


MARTIN: I never thought of it that way. OK. Well, congratulations, Marcus, and thank you to everybody who played and - I don't know. I did pretty well. I'm still not ashamed of my pick, which I won't remind you of - which I won't remind you of.

OMAR: Listen, you picked the same pick as ESPN's very own Pablo Torre, so you and the...

MARTIN: Thank you.

OMAR: ...sports experts are on the same page.

MARTIN: Thank you.

OMAR: Georgetown - they flamed out. That's not your fault.

MARTIN: Oh, so you had to go there. Just - that's piercing my heart, but that's OK. That's OK.

OMAR: We've all had our heart pierced, except for Marcus. Let's be honest.

MARTIN: That's true. So what else do you have for us, Ammad?

OMAR: All right. We got a letter from another one of our competitors, Barbara Heinz(ph) from Jersey City, New Jersey, and she had something to say about the non-sporting aspect of March Madness. She says, quote, "I'm a bracket-loving lady that enjoyed March Madness 2013, monitoring our three brackets all through the tournament. It's been good, clean fun for many years in this household, but how can the NCAA and the public continue to ignore the fact that student athletes are being exploited? To give student athletes who are engaged in postseason tournaments a small stipend and health benefits for life would be a mere drop in the bucket, given the revenue generated."

MARTIN: Well, that's certainly a rich topic. Well, thank you, Barbara, and thanks for playing and thanks for your comment.

OMAR: Yeah. I just wanted to say that what Barbara is talking about could be a reality soon. There are actually two things going on. There's an NCAA proposal to give players stipends. That's actually been tabled for the time being, but some former players are also suing the NCAA, saying that athletes, both present and former, should be getting a cut of the revenue that they're making. They're actually proposing 50 percent of the revenue the NCAA is bringing in and a lot of analysts say they have a good chance of getting something out of this case, so we'll keep you posted on that.

MARTIN: Ammad, thank you.

OMAR: Thank you.

MARTIN: And, of course, remember, at TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave us your name. We're on Twitter. Just look for TellMeMoreNPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.