Monday, March 12, 2007

A March Madness Guide, From A To Z

The field of 65 has been set, so college basketball fans are ready for some Madness! Bubble talk will give way to brackets, buzzer-beaters, and Buckeyes. But “B” isn’t the only letter in effect for the Big Dance. Here’s an NCAA tournament guide, from A to Z.

Atlanta: It’s where everyone wants to wind up for the Final Four. Braves fans will be stunned to see a packed house for postseason games.

Butler: The fifth-seeded Bulldogs hope to reach the Sweet 16, as they did in 2003 with guard Darnell Archey. This is a rare opportunity to work a guy named Archey into the blog.

Central Connecticut State: College hoops fans will be conflicted about this team. They’re a 16 seed, so everyone will want to root for them. But they’re called the Blue Devils, so everyone will want to hate them.

Diddley Squat: What you’ll accomplish at work this Thursday and Friday, if you actually go.

Eagles: The nickname for five teams in the field (two of which are the Golden variety). As is the case in the NFL, none of the Eagles will win the title.

Foresight: What the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll had, as the top 4 of Florida, North Carolina, Kansas, and Ohio State wound up as the #1 seeds. LSU barely missed out on that projected #2 seed.

Gainesville: A town that wants to hold yet another victory party. Over the past year, the word “celebration” has been heard more here than at a Kool & the Gang concert.

Hoyas: As coach of red-hot Georgetown, John Thompson III has proven that you can thrive in D.C. at the same job your dad held. Assuming that job is outside the White House.

In-State: For the second straight year, UCLA can secure a Final Four berth without exiting California. If you saw the weather out here today, you wouldn’t want to leave, either.

Jim Nantz: He’ll spend the early part of April announcing the Final Four and the Masters, two months after doing the Super Bowl. It sounds like every guy’s dream, but it comes at a heavy price: working with Billy Packer.

Kentucky and Villanova: With so many Wildcats in the field, some of them were bound to play each other.

Lone Ranger: Formerly the most famous masked man, he’s been replaced by UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough.

March Madness: If Tennessee wins its regional, that’s what Bruce Pearl will provide during Final Four week.

Niagara and Florida A&M: The winner of this play-in game has to face Kansas. But lately, a first-round date with the Jayhawks hasn’t been such a bad thing.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are #1 in the polls as they chase a national championship. If their first tournament points come from Ted Ginn, Jr., they’re screwed.

Preakness: With Kentucky and Belmont in the field, it’s the only Triple Crown race not represented.

Quakers: 14th-seeded Penn will likely be in the Pacman Jones position against Texas A&M: on the wrong side of the Law.

Ryan: As usual, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has a tough defensive team. Among Ryans, only Nolan has been harder on opposing offenses.

Stan: A name that many critics feel does not belong in the tourney, represented by coach Stan Heath of Arkansas, as well as Stanford. In response, officials at Drexel plan to expel all students named Stan.

This Year’s George Mason: Already a tiresome cliché, it’s currently the second-most overused phrase in sports, behind “Tom Brady is the father.”

Uniforms: The basis on which the winner of your pool will make their picks, while you’re pulling an all-nighter looking at scouting reports.

Vanderbilt: The Big Dance is an appropriate place for The Commodores. But if you hear the phrase “Brick House,” they’ve gone home early.

Wright State and Jackson State: I’ve been out of school for a while, but when did Wright and Jackson become states? I’d say the same about Weber State, but as a UNC alum I shouldn’t joke about them.

Xavier: Sure, it’s a predictable cop-out to go with Xavier. But they’re in the field, unlike Xanadu State or Xenophobia Tech.

Youth: Freshmen will play a huge role in this tournament. Some experts say that Kevin Durant could “pull a Carmelo,” so they must be expecting him to punch a guy from the Knicks.

Zero: The number of quality opponents faced by Memphis in Conference USA.