We're in a bit of an NIT lull before the Dawgs' Monday showdown with Air Force. But I did have some thoughts on the NCAA tournament.
I don't know about you, but my bracket has never been this intact after the first day of play. Strangely, I feel a bit of disappointment about that because it means that there really weren't any major upsets. Virginia Commonwealth over Duke? That's an 11 seed over a 6, even if the 6 was coached by Coach K. Hardly earth-shattering. I will say this though, Duke missed 11 free throws, while VCU hit 7-8 to end the game. That's how you pull an upset.
I am moderately embarassed that I picked George Washington to beat Vanderbilt (final score: Vandy 77, GW 44). I'm still not sure why. I think it was some sort of involuntary tick as I filled out the bracket. As for my pick of GW over Washington State in the 2nd round, that was just insanity. Much like my selection of Texas Tech to beat Boston College in the East bracket.
I was however pleased that I picked Indiana to beat Gonzaga. I'm still peaved that Gonzaga, whom we manhandled early in the year, even got in. I suppose beating Santa Clara in the WCC Championship Game has to count for something, though. Anybody besides me paying attention to this tournament? How's your bracket looking? Let me know in the comments.
Incoming Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny wins the Anti-Dean Wormer award for the year. First Oregon put 10% of their 550 tournament ticket allotment up for sale to students. Then monday night Kilkenny noticed the line of Oregon students lining up to buy tournament tickets on campus tuesday morning. He stopped by Tuesday morning with coffee and pastries and proceeded to pick up the tab for the kids' tickets out of his pocket. He also arranged for a bus to take the lucky students to Spokane, Washington for the game, bringing his total donation to around $6000. Now if he could just do something about those uniforms . . .
Also, 'tis the season for human interest peices leading up to the NFL draft. You know the drill: Some kid was born with a horrible skin condition that made him self-conscious about visiting his father in prison, which sucked because his mother left him in the car to read a comic book, which didn't work because they were too poor to buy him glasses. But now that the Saints are going to take him in the 1st round, he'll get to buy himself some contacts and his mother a Jaguar. Sound familiar?
This year's first entrant in the Backstory 500 is Tennessee receiver Robert Meachem, who grew up learning to be a cowboy on an 8 and 1/2 acre farm in Oklahoma, according to the sappy ESPN column on him. Funny, in south Georgia we call 8 acres a yard, not a farm. But I digress. Apparently, young Meachem grew up riding and roping with his dad. There's even a cute childhood picture of him dressed up as a mini-outlaw. And a story about how he dunked on LeBron James in an AAU basketball game. And my favorite, the time Trooper Taylor told him to lose some weight because he looked like a fullback, not a wideout. Good times, good times.
The word among the NFL cognizanti is that LSU lumbering battleship/quarterback JaMarcus Russell will be the top pick in the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, following a stellar on campus workout yesterday. Mel Kiper opined this morning on ESPN Radio that Russell is the 4th best player available, and that Calvin Johnson is the mythical "best available player". What do you guys think? Having seen JaMarcus cracking his ribs on a football and playing human pinata in the 2005 SEC Championship Game, would you take him first overall? Are we certain that Russell isn't just Daunte Culpepper in Mission Impossible-style makeup? Would you be troubled that as soon as Calvin accepts his signing bonus check, Paul Oliver will probably come out of nowhere and slap it out of his hands? Just some things to ponder as you head into the weekend. . .