Bracket Buster

Billionaires-only NCAA Tournament bracket pool sees a Houstonian flying high — until Kentucky's comeback

Billionaires-only NCAA Tournament bracket has a Houstonian flying high

Tilman Fertitta, September 2012, head shot
Tilman Fertitta was sitting pretty with his NCAA basketball pool until the final seconds of the Kentucky-Notre Dame game. Courtesy Photo

Billionaires — they're just like us.

Like thousands of basketball fans around the nation, Houston hospitality king Tilman Fertitta is taking part in a pool to pick the eventual winner of the NCAA Tournament. He was flying high, until the final seconds of the Kentucky-Notre Dame game, when the heavily favored Wildcats made two last-second free throws to nip the Fighting Irish and move on to the Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis.

Fertitta picked Notre Dame to win it all.

What makes Fertitta's pool unique is that 36 of the nation's richest tycoons each put up $10,000 in Bloomberg's Bracket For A Cause. The entire $360,000 pot goes to the victor's charity of choice. If Fertitta wins, which seems highly unlikely now, he has designated Houston Children's Charity as the beneficiary.

Fertitta, who led the pack before the Kentucky-Notre Dame game, fell to fifth place, trailing Goldman Sachs president and COO Gary Cohn, Quicken Loans chairman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, eBay president and CEO John Donahoe and Avenue Capital Management chairman and co-founder Marc Lasry.

Cohn will be hard to beat, since he correctly selected all four remaining teams, Wisconsin, Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky. But he picked Wisconsin to win the championship instead of Kentucky, so there's still a ray of hope for the other billionaires.