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Hoops madness: County employees make their picks for NCAA champion

  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Jasper County Administrator Andy Fulghum began organizing a March Madness bracket pool for the employees a few years back. Here is a picture of this year’s participants.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Dale Terry chose Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Earl Bostick Jr. of the IT department and Gloria Lucas picked Maryland to win the title.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Ronnie Malphrus, Andy Fulghum and Lisa Wagner all chose North Carolina to take home the National Championship.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Wilbur Daley, of Jasper County Fire-Rescue, picked the defending national champions, the Villanova Wildcats to repeat as national champs.

The madness is back and in full swing!

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament brings together the top 68 collegiate basketball teams in the country and lets them battle for a shot to play on Monday, April 3 for the national championship.

During the years the tournament has had its share of jaw-dropping moments: Syracuse’s 15-point, second-half comeback against Virginia in the 2016 Elite Eight; Marcus Paige’s incredible double-clutch 3-pointer in last year’s national championship game; Florida Gulf Coast’s Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2013; and Steph Curry and Davidson’s Elite Eight run in 2008.

March Madness is unpredictable and doesn’t disappoint.

And the love for creating brackets reaches everywhere, including the Jasper County Government Building.

County Administrator Andy Fulghum, a diehard Maryland Terrapins fan, runs the county’s bracket challenge.

“I’ve forced them to do it for many years now,” said Fulghum jokingly Tuesday. “I try to give an update of how everyone is doing as we go. We’ve never had a multiple year-to-year winner, and we even have trouble predicting the champion.”

The challenges started a few years ago and has grown into a friendly annual competition between employees. Employees buy in to the challenge ($5) and can create one bracket. There are 12 entries this year.

Fulghum keeps the brackets and scores them based on total number of correct wins.

The employee bracket with the most wins, gets the pot, on one condition: the winner must treat the losers to a group lunch with the pot money.

Picking brackets is a science, and most follow patterns like a No. 12 seed upsetting a No. 5 or never having all No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. But in the government building there are some unique methods to picking the perfect bracket.

“If I like the name, I just pick the name,” said Dale Terry, county Director of Engineering Services. “Sometimes I’ll pick whichever team has the most letters in their name. Sometimes I’ll pick whichever has the least letters in their name. I won last year. You can’t beat luck.”

Said Fulghum: “My wife looks at the wins and losses, and she picks solely on that. I do that on the edges, and as I get closer in, it starts to become a dream for me. I say, ‘I would like to see them win over them,’ and I predict some upsets within.”

Two years ago, the winning bracket — picked by former county attorney Marvin Jones — was based off of school mascots’ strength in head-to-head matchups.

As far as picking a national champion this year, the county employees are divided. Louisville (Dale Terry), Maryland (Earl Bostick Jr., Gloria Lucas), North Carolina (Lisa Wagner, Andy Fulghum, Ronnie Malphrus), Villanova (Wilbur Daley) and Duke (Johnny Davis) were all chosen to win the title game.

Whoever wins, one thing is for sure, the group wants to eat their March Madness lunch at the new Dye’s Gullah Fixin’s restaurant on Main Street in Ridgeland.

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