Sweet! Gators, Duke top Thursday schedule as the real Madness starts (with poll); plus UM women and men, Chad Henne's Bahamian adventure & more
[Note: Live chat returns next Wednesday. Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Results of our March Madness Haiku Challenge may be found in post directly below this in blog. And R.I.P., Elizabeth Taylor, true Hollywood legend].
PRETENDERS GONE. NOW LET THE REAL NCAA TOURNAMENT BEGIN!: I wait for the wheat to separate from the chaff -- not exactly sure what chaff is, but it's bad -- before fully tuning into the men's NCAA Tournament. That would be now, at the Sweet 16, with the bloated original field of 68 down to four regional quarterfinalists.
TONIGHT: 3-UConn vs. 2-San Diego State; 2-Florida vs. 3-Brigham Young; 1-Duke vs. 5-Arizona; and 4-Wisconsin vs. 8-Butler.
My bracket has 10 teams still alive. I'm not bragging. I am in second place of 28 in my pool with 55 points, and with Ohio State oiver Kansas in my final. OK I guess I am bragging.
Three No. 1 seeds (Ohio State, Duke, Kansas) survive, while one No. 1 (Pitt) already is out. Survivors also include BYU, which pleases me because I was looking for an excuse to use the T-shirt photo pictured. Of statewide interest, second-seeded Florida and 10th-seeded Florida State are among Sweet 16'ers. Joining the Seminoles as surviving double-digit seeds are Marquette (11), Virginia Commonwealth (11) and Richmond (12). VCU, the only surviving play-in winner, feels like the Cinderella.
Which brings us to upsets. Rule 1: "Almost" doesn't count. "Ooh Michigan almost beat Duke Sunday!" Well, they didn't. OK? They didn't. Rule 2: Upsets by direct-neighbor seeds (like a 9 beating an 8 or a 5 beating a 4, et cetera) are such negligible upsets they barely count.
On the men's side, with the Sweet 16 now set, 12 of the 48 games played so far -- not counting the four play-in games between even-seeded teams -- have been upsets, based on seedings. That's 25 percent. But that includes two neglibles, a 9 beating 8 and a 5 over 4. Biggest legit-stunners so far, based on seeding differential: 13-Morehead State beating 4-Louisville, 11-VCU beating 3-Purdue, 11-Marquette beating 3-Syracuse, 10-FSU eliminating 2-Notre Dame, 12-Richmond ousting 5-Vanderbilt and 8-Butler shocking 1-Pitt.
In the women's tournament, with the Sweet 16 now set, 13 of 48 games played so far have been upsets based on seedings. That's 27 percent. But that includes three neglible 9-over-8 results and three 5-over-4s. Biggest upsets so far based on seed differential: 11-Gonzaga over 3-UCLA, 11-Gonzaga over 6-Iowa, and 7-Louisville over 2-Xavier.
I'd give you the NIT upset stats, but I really don't care about the NIT. It's March Mildness. It's where wallflowers not invited to the BIg Dance pretend to be having a good time drinking fruit punch. And I'm screaming the next time I hear a coach in the NIT speak about having a chance to play for a championship. (I'm talkin' to you, Frank Haith). UM had a decent run, winning twice to reach the quarterfinals before losing last night to Alabama).
Poll time! You must place your life savings, right now, on one and only one regional to produce the national champion. Where's your money going and why?
HURRICANES WOMEN FALL SHORT TO END GREAT SEASON: I was up in Charlottesville, Va., with the UM women, who on Sunday won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1993, but Tuesday night fell to Oklahoma to fall short of the Sweet 16. Pictured is ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson, who had a terrific two games. Click on Magic Team for my column off Sunday's win, on Feeling the Joy for the column in advance of game 2, and on Dream Deferred for the column off last night's loss.
CHAD HENNE: PARTYING BOOB: TMZ Sports reveals that Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, apparently unbothered by either the NFL lockout or his shaky job status, spent some recent time drinking and partying in Nassau. Nothing wrong with that. He's grown. But he's also showing some pretty shaky judgement, in this age of everything-you-do-gets-known-and-shown, by putting two blown-up balloons under his shirt, as pictured. What a boob, indeed! I would say this: The beleaguered Dolphins franchise gets nationally embarrassed enough on its own, by its own management, without added help from the starting QB.
DANCING WITH THE HEAT: Click here for a YouTube video from the Heat's annual weekend Family Festival. The highlight, for me: Starting late in the video, club president Pat Riley is shown dancing on stage in the background, looking every bit as white as me at a wedding reception. I think there might even be a little Rat Pack-esque finger-snapping in there! And click here for LeBron James' on The Ellen Show, including a little aerobicize. Wooooo!
LAWRENCE TAYLOR GOLFING!: The notorious L.T., newly sentenced to six years' probation in the mater of his having sex with an underage girl, was an honored invitee at a recent Dolphins golf tournament benefitting Nat Moore's foundation. Hmm. Dear golf tournaments: I know Taylor is a "name." And the guy does love him some golf. But if Tatylor hasn't become persona non grata at your event, your event maybe needs to rethink the term.
MARLINS MISS ON CASTILLO: I see the Phillies signed the released Met Luis Castillo. I think he would have provided solid utility insurance for the Marlins at the right price. Would have been nice for him to end his career back in Florida, too. If you combine tenure and accomplishment, Castillo -- not Jeff Conine, not Mike Lowell -- is probably this franchise's Mr. Marlin.
DOG FOOD NEWS: Kibble & Bits has come out with a new line of canine chow called "Bistro Meals." Seriously. Yeah because when it comes to food, dogs are such a selective, discerning breed!
Click back. Will be adding more stuff, of a non-college basketball variety, to this new blogpost later...
THE LIST: UM WOMEN IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This marks Miami's seventh appearance in the women's NCAAs. The history:
1989 Lost-Oklahoma State
1992 Won-North Carolina, Lost-Vanderbilt
1993 Won-St. Peter's, Lost-Western Kentucky
2003 Lost-New Mexico
2011 Won-Gardner Webb, vs. Oklahoma Tuesday
Note: UM women also have made five NIT appearances, in 1990, 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2010.