It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. As serendipity would have it, today is my 16th national appearance as sports prepares for the Sweet 16.
1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 24. Marlins announce Dolphins legend Dan Marino will throw ceremonial first pitch on Opening Night. 2) Happy 67th birthday to someone who has played so much of my life's soundtrack, Reg Dwight. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with March Madness (but not the one you're thinking of). 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NCAA Tournament: Cinderell-O-Meter, my bracket, haiku winner; plus Heat rips Heat, Dolphins and Moreno, LeBron's soda & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
Heat: Big win, bigger game ahead: Last night's 93-91 home win over Portland turned a valve and let some pressure escape from the team, but now it builds right back up fast as Miami visits rival Indiana Wednesday night. Click on Judge Later, Not Now for my column from the arena off last night's win.
HEAT ANGRY AND SEARCHING; IS THREE-PEAT SLIPPING AWAY?: Two straight NBA championships give a team a reservoir of faith. Confident Heat fans stand back and smirk at others as the outsiders panic with every Miami loss. But now it feels a bit different, doesn't it? Seven losses in the past 11 games -- before last night's 93- 91 home win over Portland -- amounts to the most extended malaise of the Big 3 era. And now we are hearing anger and bewilderment. "We suck," said Chris Bosh. "There is no passion. There's nothing." LeBron: "Too many excuses. Everything is an excuse. It's very frustrating." Coach Erik Spoelstra: "Our lockerroom is angry." The Heat always seems to use turmoil and doubt as fuel. But when will that start to happen? Why hasn't it? Indiana is growing its lead in the East. Three teams out West have better records. Miami's run for a three-peat has become far from a foregone conclusion. I'm curious what you think. Will the three-peat happen or fall short? We had this excat poll question on Oct. 29, 2013 (just before the season started), and again on Dec. 12. Now we take a late-March pulse read, and it will be interesting to compare this with previous results. Remember, not asking if you want the Heat to win it all again, but if you honestly think they will -- if you were placing a yes-or-no bet. Vote and say why.
ON BOSH'S BIRTHDAY BASH: Give the Heat stars credit. They know how to throw birthday parties for themselves. Chris Bosh turned 30 on Monday so on Sunday he rented out Marlins Park for a circus themed bash he called Cirque du Noir. It included clowns, liquored-up snowcones, dunk tanks, carnival games, capering little people, a towering cake and entertainment by Bone Thugs 'N Harmony. A representative picture, courtesy April Belle Photos, is shown.
MARLINS' SAMSON STARRING IN LOCAL THEATER PRODUCTION: Marlins president David Samson, fresh from his quick boot off the island on TV's Survivors reality show, will portray Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels in the upcoming theater production, Not Ready for Primetime. Miami's New Theatre will premiere the play with a Friday, March 29 opening night at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay. The play, running through April 19, is directed by Erik J. Rodriguez and revolves around the greatest SNL cast ever featuring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray et al. Visit the New Theatre website for more. Samson, pictured, is a movie expert, marathon runner, reality-show star and, apparently, an actor. In his free time he is a major-league baseball team president, time permitting.
MADNESS TAKES A BREATHER: 9 STILL ALIVE ON MY BRACKET: Yeah, yeah. I know. I wrote a Curmudgeonly Anti-Bracket Column last week (somewhat in jest), but I do have a bracket in an office pool. Just one. Entering the Sweet 16 round later this week I have nine teams still alive: No. 1s Florida, Arizona and Virginia; No. 2s Wisconsin and Michigan; No. 3 Iowa State; and No. 4s UCLA, Michigan State and Louisville. I think my bracket is in decent shape. I have a dog in the hunt in seven of the eight S16 pairings, and am still alive for my championship pick of Florida over Arizona. Is having 9 teams still alive good, average or poor? To put it in context, Dick Vitale and golfer Bubba Watson have 11 teams left, President Obama has 9 left like me, soccer star Hope Solo has 8 left, and TV's Jimmy Kimmel has 7 alive. In my office pool, I am tied for 16th place among 54 brackets.
Sweet 16 national-title odds: Fresh from Bovada today, Florida Gators are the readjusted NCAA Tournament championship favorites at 7-2, followed by Michigan State 9-2, Louisville 5-1, Arizona 6-1 and Virginia 10-1. Then it's Michigan/Louisville both 16-1, Iowa State/UCLA both 18-1, Kentucky/Baylor both 20-1, Tennessee 28-1, San Diego State/UConn both 33-1, Stanford 50-1 and Dayton 100-1.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...