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Free Form Friday: Basketball, Bruce Pearl, Big Boi And The Brothers.

 It's college football's offseason. And the Georgia Bulldogs are out of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. That's not my problem. It's not your problem. It's our problem. And collective problems call for bargaining which doesn't involve the NFLPA or the owners because, let's face it, if it were up to them the Texas Longhorns would have to give Baylor first crack at 1/4 of the top prospects in the state every year.

Thus we present Free Form Friday, an open comment thread of sorts which we ask to you fill with your thoughts on college sports, pop culture and whatever else pops into your pretty little heads.

It's spring here in Macon, which means three things. One, my vehicle stays parked in a garage except when I'm driving to and from work yet still is covered in roughly a quarter-inch of pollen. Two, it's time for the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which entails me taking pictures of non-English speaking tourists in front of the trees in my yard and a street party this weekend headlined by Outkast's Big Boi and country singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson (who I hope take part in a duet which will subsequently tear the internet asunder in an explosion of hyperawesomeness once uploaded to YouTube). The third? It's time to drag an old ratty couch out into the yard and listen to the Allman Brothers on full blast with the speakers hanging out of open windows.*

 If you have an hour to kill on a beautiful spring day, you might want to take a look at the piece Daniel Libit has over at Deadspin regarding Bruce Pearl's involvement in the Deon Thomas scandal at Illinois. It's an interesting slice of investigative journalism, if for no other reason, because it reminds us that the recent events at Tennessee were not the first time that Pearl has been near the epicenter of a recruiting scandal. There's even a reminder that before Mike Slive was SEC Commish he was an NCAA compliance lawyer of some repute. And that however corrupt any human enterprise is, it becomes 75% more skeevy within the boundaries of Cook County, Illinois.

Twenty years on I have no idea who to believe about what really went on in that case. I suspect that none of the major players in the recruitment of the celebrated Chicago prep star had completely clean hands. That's not unusual in major college basketball recruiting. It's not exactly a clinically sterile environment, what with the AAU dons, the handlers, and street agents. It reminds me of an old joke. What's the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist? The Methodist knows you went to a bar last night, but the Baptist knows which beer you were drinking, though he can't tell you how he knows.

Yesterday we took a quick look at each of the four scheduled Sweet Sixteen matchups, and even an uneducated guess at who would win those matchups. Having earned a gentleman's split by going 2-2 in those picks, I'm ready to take a peek at tonight's remaining games on the way to the Elite Eight. As always your predictions are welcome in the comments.

Marquette vs. North Carolina, 7:15 p.m.  As much as people love to focus on guardplay as essential in March, they often overlook the fact that teams don't shoot as well in strange arenas as they do at home, or even in familiar road environs. North Carolina may rebound the ball better than any team in the country, and the Marquette Golden Eagles are coming off a hard-fought 66-62 victory over Syracuse. To me that's a recipe for a brute force Tar Heel victory, in which the representatives of the nation's second oldest state-chartered university come out on top. 

Richmond vs. Kansas, 7:27 p.m. Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Except Bill Self, who would like nothing more than to take that glass slipper and bludgeon the itsy bitsy spider to death with it. He'll get his chance, I'm taking the Jayhawks. On the bright side for Richmond fans, this will allow Dan Radocovich to interview their coach Chris Mooney for the open Paul Hewitt Memorial Chair of Roundball Futility that much sooner.

Kentucky vs. Ohio State 9:45 p.m. Calipari's team is just about due to do something dumb late in a game to lose it. Ohio State is not the team to do dumb stuff against. Not to be too simplistic, but I'm taking Ohio State based on the two preceeding sentences and believe that any further analysis is just overkill.

Virginia Commonwealth vs. Florida State 9:57 p.m. I have no idea how we got here. Seriously. I do however know that Virginia Commonwealth is about to have to replace another head coach, and that I would not be surprised to see VCU boss Shaka Smart patroling the sidelines at Georgia Tech next season. 

Finally, my heartfelt thanks to hailtogeorgia, who last weekend resupplied me with a jumbo bottle of Mr. Moats BBQ sauce from the IGA in Sylvania. I tried a couple of times to reverse engineer the recipe, but finally gave up because even my best efforts were a pale imitation of the original.  I'll likely be using it on some pulled pork sandwiches this weekend while doing yardwork and greeting Korean tourists who would rather have their pictures taken with my azaleas than with Doutzen Kroes in a bikini. I don't judge, I just snap the photos. Let us know your plans for the weekend, culinary or otherwise in the comments. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!

*Seriously, it's a little known fact that all Macon/Bibb County noise ordinances are suspended so long as the music rattling your neighbor's teeth involves either Gregg Allman or Dickey Betts. It's the law.