Without a doubt, the most wonderful week of the year
Round of Applause
Pitchers and catchers week for high school baseball started Monday, and it’s great to be back in baseball mode. Baseball certainly has the longest offseason of all sports, made worse by the long winter we had this year. Nothing wakes up the senses like hearing the pop of the glove. Next week, we’ll get to hear the ting of the bat and we’ll be in all-out baseball mode. I still have never heard a convincing argument that baseball isn’t the best sport going, and I don’t think I’m ever going to hear one.
Brackets are probably the greatest invention of all time, so whoever came up with the idea was a genius. No piece of paper has ever been put to better use than one which has an NCAA Tournament bracket printed on it. Brackets undoubtedly take away from students trying—or not trying at all—to do their homework. They take away from employees trying—or not trying at all—to get work done. They take away from me trying—yeah, actually trying—to write this week’s stories and Overtime. But winning a bracket pool would be worth every minute of effort wasted—wait, not wasted—on filling out a team, then scratching that out, then crumpling up the bracket and printing a new one, then filling out a different team, then scratching that out to go with the original team you picked, then doing that 62 more times. Call me crazy, but you know you do it, too.
Televisions are littering my room this week. This is the first year ever that multiple TV networks are carrying NCAA Tournament games, so I’ve got three televisions hooked up in my room to follow the action on CBS, TBS, and TNT, and my laptop is tuned into March Madness On Demand to watch the other games on truTV. The problem that I’ve yet to figure out as of print time Wednesday morning is how I’m going to control each of the TV sets. I have two remotes, so maybe I’ll head to a brother’s room to commandeer a third clicker for a few days. My friends and I call my room the Bracket Lab for the last three weeks of March because it’s the headquarters of all things related to brackets. I’ve got my 25 or so personal brackets that I enter in various competitions, plus the 100 or so brackets that are entered in the pool that I manage, plus a whiteboard I can keep track of the actual bracket on. I know, who’s cooler than me? Nobody. Nobody.
Chorus of Boos
NCAA Tournament scheduling is not so good. I love the expansion to 68 teams—although I don’t think I want to see any more teams in the tournament—and I like the idea of the First Four with two matchups of automatically qualifying 16-seeds and two matchups of the four lowest-ranked at-large teams. However, the scheduling involved in the First Four is not good (at least this year) and needs to be changed. Clemson beat UAB in a game that started at about 10 p.m. Tuesday night. That means after the game ended, the press conference was conducted, and players got back to the hotel, it probably was between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. OK, it could be worse. But not really. Clemson was scheduled to play West Virginia Thursday at 12:15 p.m. The Tigers were set for a flight at about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning and had to sit through a press conference and practice Wednesday afternoon. Basically, Clemson had to play two games in 38 hours. That shouldn’t be what’s happening in the NCAA Tournament. Let the First Four winners play night games in their Second Round games. What’s so hard about that?
10. teams that might win the NCAA Tournament
1. Kansas: Hottest team in the country with veteran leadership
2. Duke: Been there, done that; the defending champs have it all
3. Ohio State: Freshman Jared Sullinger with a bunch of seniors
4. Pittsburgh: Year in and year out, the toughest team in the land
5. UConn: Kemba and Co. off a historic Big East Tourney run
6. Notre Dame: Sharpshooting bunch very capable of scoring a ton
7. Syracuse: Zone D always tough in tourney, plus go-to scorers
8. Louisville: Pesky defense and perimeter shooting keep them around
9. North Carolina: Great player in Barnes, but not playing great
10. Texas: Not so hot now, but can turn on the switch and make a run
Lips to CN’s Ear
“Everyone was really sad after the game was over. But we made history. It sucked when it was over, but it was great that we made history. Everyone was proud of us afterwards. … I think it was how close we are and how much we wanted it. We have four seniors who have been in the program for four years and Piccolo really stepped it up. We had girls who really wanted to play. Heart goes far in the NVL.”
Woodland girls basketball star senior forward after the No. 10 Hawks fell to No. 2 Windham, 75-44, in the Class M quarterfinal last Thursday. Framski scored a team-high 18 points in that game to give her 1,257 points for her career—a full 100 points more than any player in school history. The Hawks set school records for wins (18), regular-season wins (15), and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Framski, Lindsay Feducia, Kate Tuckey, and Kelsey Deegan will leave Woodland as the winningest class of seniors in program history.