[Enter our MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE in appropriate post. Only haikus submitted in that blogpost will be considered for the grand prize. Deadline fast approaching. Don't delay!]
NCAA TOURNEY: MY BRACKET AFTER SECOND ROUND: Ouch. After going 14-2 on Friday, yesterday was a crusher for me. I advanced only three teams Saturday (Kentucky, Baylor, K-State) as second-round play began, on a day that took a wrecking ball to my bracket. Northern Iowa!? Seriously!? Holy Ali Farokhmanesh! Kansas was my pick for national champion, so I'm done. Sunday was a bit better for me, with five more teams going through to the Sweet 16. My surviving eight teams are Michigan State, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas State, Kentucky, West Virginia, Duke and Baylor. (Pictured: Me as an infant, crying in anticipation of Kansas losing to Northern Iowa). The good news? I still lead The Herald's "March Mania Bracket Challenge," 40 points to 37 over second place Michelle Kaufman.
NCAA TOURNEY BY THE NUMBERS THROUGH SECOND ROUND: Three of eight Saturday second-round games were upsets (based on seedings), including the stunner of March Madness so far with 9-Northern Iowa bouncing overall 1-Kansas. on Sunday, three more of eight games were upsets, including 12-Cornell over 4-Wisconsin. That makes it 17 upsets in 48 games, or 35,4 percent, through the second round.
FLORIDA DERBY'S GAMBLE: Gulfstream might not like this column by me off yesterday's Florida Derby, a photo-finish win by 20-1 lonsghot Ice Box. It was a great finish to what was in many ways a great race. The trouble is, Gulfstream diminished its field by moving its race to one week earlier to avoid conflict with races elsewhere. It caused an increase in betting handle, one of the goals I'm sure. But it was hurtful in other ways. The later date is advantageous to many horse owners and trainers as a prep race for the Triple Crown season. It was why Eskendereya -- arguably the Kentucky Derby favorite and a Triple Crown candidate -- withdrew from the Florida Derby. The date change also caused yesterday's race to not to be on national TV. Finally, in its massive redesign to include a casino and a sprawling shops/restaurants area, Gulfstream seems to have neglected its horse-racing fans. There is not nearly enough grandstand seating, and bettors were complaining about not being able to get wagers in because of a gross lack of betting windows and automated machines. Great day for Ice Box. Not a great day for Gulfstream or the Florida Derby.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: MY BRACKET: Day 1 Thursday: Ten of my 16 teams survived, or 62.5 percent. I wasn't braggin'. Hit a pair of significant early upset picks with 11-Washington over Marquette and 11-Old Dominion over Notre Dame. Ended the day tied for first with colleague Michelle Kaufman (10 points each) in The Miami Herald's March Mania Bracket Challenge. But Georgetown and Vandy losing were bracket-killers for me because I had each winning multiple games. Day 2 Friday: Things looked up for my bracket. Big-time. Now I'm braggin'. Yes, baby, because 14 of my 16 teams won, or 87.5 percent. Included were two upset-pick bull's-eyes with 12-Cornell over Temple and 10-Missouri beating Clemson. Through first round: I have 24 of my 32 teams still alive, or 75 percent. I'm totally out of only two of 16 games this weekend. Plus I have taken over first place with a three-point lead over Michelle (24-21) in The Herald's Bracket Challenge. Feeling pretty good I must say. That's me here, toasting my own good fortune.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: BY THE NUMBERS THROUGH FIRST ROUND: On Day 1 of first-round action Thursday, half of the games -- 8 of 16 -- were upsets, based on seedings, although that includes a pair of 9-over-8's. Biggest stunners were by 14-Ohio over Georgetown and 13-Murray State over Vanderbilt. (Thought Wake Forest's tough win over Texas further validated my column about how the Miami Hurricanes got screwed not even making the NIT). Things calmed down on Day 2 Friday as the first round was completed, with only 3 upsets of 16 games. Biggest was 12-Cornell beating Temple. For the total first round it's 11 upsets in 32 games, or 34.4 percent.
WOFFORD AND ME: Last week in a column about how ludicrous a proposed 96-team NCAA Tournament was, I poked gentle fun at the Wofford Terriers as an example of how even 64 teams is bloated because so many smaller conference schools with no chance of winning it all are included. Well, Wofford coach Mike Young went on National Public Radio/Boston and called me a clown. In turn 790 The Ticket had both Young and I on the other day, hoping for fireworks, but we made up, with him lying that he'd followed and admired my writing for years and me lying that he was one of America's great coaches. Now I have officially adopted Wofford as my team, even though I had to root for Wisconsin Friday on account of my bracket. "Go Terriers! Make it close!" [Update: They did, losing 53-49 No. 4 regional seed Wisconsin].
DOLPHINS TO DRAFT PIERRE-PAUL?: A recent "intersite" mock draft involving a couple of dozen major Internet draft sites (click here) had the Dolphins at No. 12 selecting South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul. More interesting, to me, the mock had two other guys associated with possible Miami interest, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant and Tennessee DT Dan Williams, falling to 22nd and 26th, respectively. Still Bryant is the right pick, unless Dolphs go get a quality veteran receiver in the meantime. [Update: For what it's worth, latest AOL.com/FanHouse mock has Pierre-Paul going 10th to Jaguars, Bryant 11th to Broncos and Williams 12th to Miami).
TONY SPARANO NOW COACHING IN UFL: Tony Sparano has joined the Hartford Colonials of the fledgling UFL as assistant defensive line coach. Luckily for the Dolphins, it's the Miami head coach's 23-year-old son, Tony Jr. (pictured).
CHAD OCHODANCO: Chad Ochocinco and his Dancing With the Stars partner, pic courtesy of Chad's Twitter site. He so shy. Hates attention.
KORNHEISER DOES IT AGAIN: Just off ESPN suspension for criticizing colleague Hannah Storm on the air, Tony Kornheiser under fire again for urging drivers to intentionally run bicyclists off the road. Lance Armstrong on Twitter called Tony the K a "complete f-ing idiot." Korny has apologized. I do not advocate running bicyclists off the road, but do share Tony's bemused disdain for the subset of cyclists who ride in full gear as if competing in the Tour de France. C'mon, dorks. Who you trying to impress?
JOSLYN JAMES' CLAIMS: Porn star Joslyn James on her website publishes a bunch of text messages she claims are from former paramour Tiger Woods. Because that cannot be proven I won't lower myself to re-publishing the sometimes-nasty texts here. However, I will lower myself to publish a salacious photo of Joslyn James!
"NBA" IN SPANISH: The Heat's Carlos Arroyo teaches teammate Daequan Cook how to speak Spanish, sort of. Click here.