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The madness of making NJBIZ Brackets


Know anyone who went to school at Akron or Iowa State? How about Southern Miss or Mississippi State? If you know a grad from Long Beach, Montana, UT Arlington or Western Kentucky that would also be helpful.

I ask because we have started our research for the 2012 NJBIZ Brackets, which features a New Jersey business executive representing each university. You may remember the feature from last year, when we first launched it.

The real brackets for the NCAA men's basketball tournament won't be announced until 6 p.m. March 11, but we have Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm, Shelby Mast and others to help us with the science and art of bracketology. Plus, certain schools have already qualified for an automatic bid and others are definites to be included. Some schools, including some named above, are on the bubble but we don't want to wait too long to start our research because we're always ahead of the curve in the NJBIZ newsroom.

OK, OK, I'll just be honest: We start early because I get obsessed with researching this. In fact, I think I spotted some somewhat worried looks on the faces of newsroom staffers late yesterday as they came into my office, but it was hard to tell because I barely looked up as my face was buried in my computer monitor for an hour (OK, OK, three hours) looking for NJBIZ Brackets candidates. Last night, I said more than once, "Yeah, I'm leaving, I'm leaving…just after I find someone for Gonzaga." (And UNLV and Creighton…well, you get the idea).

The goal is to find the most well-known people or companies to represent each school, all while trying not to repeat a company. We also strive for geographic and industry representation. And we prefer to have people who went to the school as an undergrad because alumni usually aren't as loyal to the sports scene of their grad schools. We aim to do all that, while also trying to find New Jersey business people who went to South Dakota State and Wichita State.

Another goal is not to repeat anyone from last year's NJBIZ Brackets, except for Frederick Alworth, an attorney with Gibbons PC. Alworth, a UConn grad, was the overall winner last year. But at this writing is it unclear if (ahem) UConn will even make the tournament this year. If they do, Alworth will be on the NJBIZ Brackets, trying to defend his crown.

While we complete our research, our web wizard John Shirley is busy working on the back end of NJBIZ Brackets. We couldn't do it without John's help and expertise.

Here are the schools we are still trying to match with New Jersey business people: Akron, Cincinnati, Davidson, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Long Beach, LIU Brooklyn, Memphis, Mississippi State, Saint Louis, Southern Miss, UT Arlington, VCU, Washington, Western Kentucky.

If you can suggest a business leader from one of those schools, please email me at or leave a comment on this post. Look for NJBIZ Brackets to be unveiled the morning of March 15.

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