PORTLAND, Maine — Editor’s note: You are starting to hear the term ‘flattening the curve’ as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means.
History is taking the place of hoops in our celebration of March Madness.
This entire month is usually filled with college basketball games to decide national champions across all levels of competition. But this year, the NCAA was forced to cancel its full 2020 playoff schedule as a public safety measure in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.
The cancellation was especially disappointing for a couple of teams in Maine. The Bowdoin College women's team ended the regular season ranked fifth nationally in Division III. They advanced through the first two rounds of the championship tournament, only to have their run cut short before they could play in the Sweet 16 round against Trine University.
The University of Maine women were also hoping to make post-season waves in Division I. They were set to play Stony Brook for the America East title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But that game was another casualty of the coronavirus cancellations.
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Before the coronavirus, many basketball fans willingly confined themselves to their homes for long stretches to watch the constant stream of games on television. But now that we're all stuck at home, there are no games to watch.
The tournament is also famous for bringing co-workers together as they compete to prove their basketball IQ. Every office seems to have one person who takes it upon themselves to head up a betting pool (purely for bragging rights, of course).
The bets are placed using a spidery bracket of teams that winnows the field of 64 teams down, game by game, to a single winner. The NCAA calculates the chances of correctly predicting every winner at 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. And yet those long odds don't dissuade millions of fans from trying their luck every year.
The coronavirus has put a stop to the tournament, but we refuse to let it stop our fun. We've created our own bracket. Instead of basketball teams, we've filled each slot with a famous name from Maine history. In that way, it celebrates not only the basketball tournament but also Maine's bicentennial, the observance of which has also largely been sidelined by the pandemic.
Every tournament has a limited number of slots, so not everyone made the cut. Being left out does not diminish anyone's place in history and it should not be construed as a judgment of their accomplishments. Current political office holders were excluded from consideration to try to avoid partisan bickering. Let's keep this fun.
We invite you to fill out our bracket and debate your picks with your friends just as you would for the regular tournament. We hope it might be a way to stay connected while practicing social distancing.
Here is the full list of our 64 competitors:
- Harold Alfond: reinvested the money he made selling shoes into communities across Maine
- Percival Baxter: governor and conservationist who gave Maine Baxter State Park
- L.L. Bean: designed the rubber-soled boot that launched an empire of outdoor gear
- James Blaine: Secretary of State under three presidents
- Cindy Blodgett: UMaine basketball heroics led to WNBA career
- Mike Bordick: error-averse MLB shortstop
- George and Barbara Bush: 41st U.S. President and First Lady
- Rough Carrigan: winner of back-to-back World Series as Red Sox player-manager
- Chris Cassidy: astronaut who is always game for another trip to space
- Joshua Chamberlain: Civil War hero of the Battle of Gettysburg
- Tom and Kate Chappell: the personal care products sold under their Tom's of Maine label are made from only natural ingredients
- Bill Cohen: senator and Secretary of Defense
- Ricky Craven: NASCAR driver, winner of epic finish by .002 second
- Bob Crewe: songwriter who put the words in Frankie Valli's mouth
- Patrick Dempsey: leading man of big and small screens
- Dorothea Dix: advocate for the mentally ill
- Brian Dumoulin: NHL defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup winner
- Don Fendler: lived to tell the story "Lost on a Mountain in Maine"
- Ryan Flaherty: Major League utility specialist
- John Ford: four-time Oscar winning director who made John Wayne a Western star
- Melville Fuller: U.S. Chief Justice
- Chester Greenwood: earmuff inventor
- Hannibal Hamlin: Vice President under Abraham Lincoln
- Winslow Homer: turned Maine landscapes into high art
- Robert Indiana: spread LOVE with his works of art
- Anna Kendrick: channeled a capella talent into movie stardom
- Stephen King: bestselling novelist with a talent for terror
- William King: father of Maine statehood and first governor
- Henry Knox: Revolutionary War hero and first Secretary of War
- Elle Logan: gold medal winner for rowing in three consecutive Olympics
- Alvin Lombard: his invention of track-wheeled vehicles gave rise to snowmobiles, bulldozers and tanks
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: spun poetry from the American spirit
- Bernard Lown: defibrillator inventor keeps hearts ticking
- Lois Lowry: winner of two Newbery Medals for stories that introduce young readers to serious subjects
- Bob Ludwig: trusted by musicians from Led Zeppelin to Daft Punk to master their recordings
- Hiram Stevens Maxim: invented the first portable, fully automatic machine gun
- Jessica Meir: participated in first all-female spacewalk in her stay on the International Space Station
- Stump Merrill: New York Yankees manager and front office adviser
- Edna St. Vincent Millay: Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry of lyrical beauty
- George Mitchell: senator and negotiator of peace deal in Ireland
- Ed Muskie: Senator and Secretary of State
- Leonard Norcross: inventor of the first deep-water diving suit
- Frances Perkins: as Secretary of Labor, first woman to hold a Cabinet post
- Joanne Palombo-McCallie: from star basketball player to coaching giant
- Julie Parisien: fearless Olympic slalom skier
- Robert Peary: Arctic explorer who set out to reach the North Pole
- Chuck Peddle: pioneered advances in technology that paved the way for the personal computer
- Mark Plummer: winner of 13 Maine State Amateur golf titles
- Edwin Arlington Robinson: four Pulitzer Prize nominations for literature were exceed by three wins for poetry
- Richard Russo: set in Maine, "Empire Falls" won him Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
- Joan Benoit Samuelson: winner of the first Olympic women's marathon
- Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby: founders of Burt's Bees line of personal care products
- Margaret Chase Smith: first woman to serve in both the U.S. House and Senate
- Samantha Smith: anti-nuclear weapon peace activist
- Olympia Snowe: senator skilled at working across party lines
- Louis Sockalexis: broke barriers as one of the MLB's first Native American players
- Percy Spencer: inventor of the microwave oven
- Bob Stanley: decade-long mainstay of Red Sox pitching staff
- Bill Swift: standout Major League pitcher
- Augustin Thompson: whetted America's thirst for soft drinks with his recipe for Moxie
- Rudy Vallee: a golden voice of radio's golden age
- Seth Wescott: two-time Olympic gold medalist in snowboard cross
- E.B. White: author of bedtime classics "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little"
- Wyeth family: legacy of art across three generations from N.C. to Andrew to Jamie