Five high-ranking Upper Arlington officials will be testing their college basketball IQs as the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament kicks into action.
Upper Arlington City Manager Ted Staton, Finance Director Cathe Armstrong, Mayor and City Council President Don Leach and Fire Chief Jeff Young all have signed up to see whose bracket can go the farthest in this year's tournament.
Upper Arlington Schools Superintendent Paul Imhoff also will compete in the contest -- strictly for bragging rights -- organized by ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.
Staton, a city administrator and Ohio State Buckeye backer who formerly was city manager in the basketball-crazed town of East Lansing, Mich., said his childhood in Dayton and his father's allegiance to that university's basketball Flyers has raised serious conflicts for him. But he apparently cast them aside, as he's picking Arizona to defeat fellow No. 1 seed Florida to win it all.
An outspoken basketball fan who decried the UA News' requirement to fill out her bracket before the tournament's play-in games, Armstrong is well-known for her love of all things Ohio State. However, she didn't trust the Buckeyes to get past Syracuse in the second round, and went with the streaking Louisville Cardinals -- the defending champs -- to take this year's title.
After gaining experience in both intramural basketball and rugby in college, Leach said he's been boning up on the tourney by "being the basketball." That preparation has included shooting baskets with his daughters and wife -- the latter of whom is said to feature a lethal backward, two-handed shot from 15 feet -- and he's picking Michigan State from the Big 10 to cut down the nets.
A self-proclaimed "dark horse" in this contest, Young is involved in playing or coaching nearly every sport except basketball. Still, he said he's up for this challenge and he's taking Arizona to beat the MSU Spartans in the final.
Last but not least is Imhoff, a relative newcomer to the school district. Throughout his tenure as an educator and administrator, he's viewed quite a bit of high school basketball. He's further sharpened his knowledge while watching the Upper Arlington boys basketball team march toward the state tournament, and he chose Syracuse, a team that was hot early but has struggled of late, to knock off the Louisville Cardinals in this year's final.
You can follow the bracket progress of each of the "March Madness at the Municipal Services Center" participants throughout this year's tourney at thisweeknews.com.