Blogging the tournament, Day 1
By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
March 15, 2007
Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel spent the first day of the NCAA tournament as everyone should: Camped in front of a wall of televisions with a cold beer in front of him. Here's the report he filed:
12:10 p.m. ET: Every so often a reader asks why I don't write for a newspaper. I like to think they mean it in a positive way. Of course, I also like to believe the readers who encourage me to go take a nap in the middle lane of Cross Bronx Expressway are concerned about my sleep cycles.
Some would say that both pieces of advice would result in similar conclusions but that doesn't even take into account little benefits of working online.
Let alone someone doing it while putting the entire tab on an expense account.
Surprisingly, through the years we have found that many of you do want this stuff – the ones who have real jobs, real responsibilities, a life, a wife (or a husband), class, meetings, appointments and can't embrace this rite of spring, dropping everything to watch four college basketball games at once while double fisting alcohol and brackets.
So, welcome to the third annual "man in a bar" column, which means I've hoodwinked my fine bosses in California one more time.
I'll sit here surrounded by televisions – 20 of them at 24 Seconds in downtown Berkley, Mich. – and write running commentary on all the day games while sprinkling in any other important happenings around the premises. That's about it.
Last year some of the highlights included making fun of Mike Krzyzewski's commercials, making fun of Dick Vitale's commercials and contemplating how Northwestern State was the most arrogant school in America.
Just consider this Northwestern State place. It feels it is so important it doesn't even need to tell what state's northwestern part it represents. I initially surmised that it could be home to any state, since every place must have a northwest part. Later, my freeloading father and the readers pointed out that New York and Kentucky do not have northwestern parts.
I then added that Idaho also didn't have a northwestern part since its "north" is just that skinny little part. My father pointed out that it has both a northwestern and northeastern – its just they are only a mile apart.
As you can tell, it was a very productive two days.
We also drank some beer, watched a lot of hoops and provided an outlet for everyone who wishes they could be here. I consider this a public service. What can I say, this is a job but it isn't work.
I strongly encourage reader email and feedback, some of which we'll even print. If you happen to be in Metro Detroit right now, come on down and meet up with us. We might even put you in the column, unless you don't want your boss finding out.
24 Seconds is the quintessential American sports bar geared up for perhaps the greatest day on the American Sports calendar. It's located at 3071, 12 Mile Road in Berkley. As for 8 Mile, if things go well, maybe I'll battle Rabbit later tonight.
The games begin shortly, so don't go anywhere. I'm surely not.
12:20 p.m. ET: The CBS pregame show featured a fashionably daring Clark Kellogg wearing a gray suit, which I thought wasn't allowed at CBS, where everyone wears pinstripe suits only. Way to step out there, Clark.
Valued Reader Ken Fehrenbach writes in with this salient point:
Has anyone tallied up how many sick days are take for this event? There is nothing that feels as empty as when the last commercial is run after the final game of the choosing of the Sweet 16.
Then there is not-Valued Reader Susan Shepard, who wrote this:
What makes you think everyone cares about a basketball tournament? I for one don't, nor does anyone else I know care.
Now, I don't care if you don't like college hoops. But what possesses someone who doesn't to read an entire article on college hoops to write the author to say they don't care? If on a gardening web site someone writes that the garden show is the best weekend of the year, do you see me reading and critiquing?
Sadly, Susan Shepard is probably someone's boss.
Early games set to tip – (13) Davidson-(4) Maryland, (10) Texas Tech-(7) Boston College, (6) Louisville-(11) Stanford.
Already a solid crowd here at 24 Seconds – which should be renamed 35 Seconds this week – with guys scattered around the bar while having important "lunch meetings" with "clients."
A party of three – two guys and a woman – just sat down at the table next to me and scanned the drink specials menu.
"Three dollar Long Islands," said the woman.
"This is a conspiracy to keep us from the office," said one guy.
March Madness, baby. March Madness.
12:30 p.m. ET: The start of the Davidson-Maryland game was dreadful. 24 Seconds has a row of hi-def plasmas above the bar, and since this was the only game going, it was on all of them. Unfortunately the feeds were coming with different delays, so the action was helter-skelter. On TV a guy was lining up a shot. The next it was going in. The third someone was inbounding the ball.
It was like watching after eating a Gonzaga mushroom pizza.
Davidson 5, Maryland 4 at the first TV timeout. Absolutely no question this is going to be a game as long as Davidson can control the tempo.
Texas Tech-BC just tipped off. These early games are going to test my derided-but-daring theory that the ACC was not a great conference this year (other than North Carolina). I am much higher on the quality of play in the Big 12 – particularly at the top.
Writer and radio host Neal McCreday just checked in from Mobile, Ala. I'm going on his radio show at 4:30 Alabama time today. After a full afternoon at the bar. Should be something.
12:50 p.m. ET: The $3 drink special appears quite popular. If this was any more Long Island I'd think I was in Hempstead. Where Tommy Pecora?
It looks like Bud Light is reusing all of its best Super Bowl commercials for March Madness. That's cool. Bud Light had a very good Super Bowl. I'll even drink Bud Light all day to salute the effort.
Alcohol-wise, my main goal is to avoid any and all shots until I'm off duty.
Obviously we have high standards here at Yahoo! Sports.
I didn't notice anyone at Rupp Arena throwing eggs or anything at current Louisville coach (and ex-Kentucky coach) Rick Pitino. I guess they are getting soft down there in Lexington.
Of course, the crowd is mostly Cardinal fans and UL is already up 17-6. A lot of people like Stanford, but I can't see Louisville losing. Pitino has done a tremendous job turning that team around this year.
Boston College is trying to run its flex offense and Texas Tech is switching off of every single screen. That is probably the best way to contain Jared Dudley, who will be the key to the game. BC 19-16 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
The BC-Texas Tech game has Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas calling the action. Strong duo. I'm glad that is the broadcast being piped over the bar's sound system.
Davidson is up 22-21 on Maryland with 11 minutes left in the first half. Davidson is both patient offensively but scoring in some early offense. They look prepared. No way this doesn't go deep into the second half.
1:08 p.m. ET: Bob Knight does not have his O'Reilly Auto Parts logos on his black sweater today. He does have a couple of Adidas logos. Something tells me the NCAA prevents one and allows the other. It makes perfect sense. Ban the one that buys and sells carburetors and allow the one that buys and sells high school recruits.
This isn't Knight's best team, by any means, but there are times they execute the motion offense about as well as can be imagined. Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno are perfect players for that offense. The Red Raiders got hot to close the BC lead to 34-31 with 3 minutes remaining in the half.
I grew up in Boston, and in high school and during college summers we used to go over to the fine Boston College bar Mary Ann's. We'd try to find BC girls from Westchester County who could buy us rounds on their father's "emergency" credit cards. It was, indeed, an emergency.
I assume this longstanding practice is going on as we speak, and for that I applaud the local scammers. BC never runs out of gullible girls with rich fathers.
Speaking of BC, it's a real quandary today for my best friend Murph, who went to BC but is also a big proponent of Texas Tech assistant Pat Knight. I'm thinking alma mater wins out, but he won't tell Pat about it.
Louisville is up 15 on Stanford and you only need to watch about one minute of the game to see that this isn't going to end well for Stanford. UL has too much size and speed. About the only interesting thing here is it is a game between the Cardinals and the Cardinal.
Davidson is up 35-30 on Maryland, and whether it wins or not, it is certainly not at all afraid of the Terrapins. That more than anything is the biggest change in college hoops over that last five or so years. The smaller conference schools believe they are just as good as the big ones.
Valued Reader Chris Mitchell wrote in to wonder if "Susan Shepard is an Akron fan." If so, after being snubbed by even the NIT, I don't blame her for hating the game.
Dick Vitale may be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame early next month, and if he is it will be in spite of his most recent commercials. I hope they paid well because the latest Hooters one is even more unbecoming than that DeGorno's Pizza spot.
In the DeGorno's commercial, he "dunks" the basketball and then has a bet that the pizza is frozen, not delivery. Besides looking silly dunking in street clothes I really have to wonder where in the empty arena he cooked that pizza? Was Vinnie Johnson around? No way I am eating a frozen pizza that was cooked in a stadium fry-o-later. I'm calling Domino's.
Then there is the Hooters commercial, which I presume was meant to be outrageously campy. It certainly succeeded.
The best part of the commercial is the only line given to the blonde Hooters waitress who in exasperated fashion says to Vitale, "Oh, Dick."
Yeah, that's the line. The whole line. Nope, not awkward at all. No double entendre there.
Can you imagine this young woman, pursuing her Hollywood dreams of being a movie star, excitedly calling home to her parents in Cedar Rapids?
"Mom, Dad, I finally got a speaking role!"
Wow, that's great darling, what's your character's name?
"Buxom Blonde No. 1"
What? Uh, what's your line?
That's it! You're coming home before you take part in a project like that.
1:20 p.m. ET: Good story on Louisville freshman Derrick Caracter. Back in the early season, when U of L stunk, Caracter's attitude was even worse. The papers were calling him "Bad Caracter" and such. Not good for a top 20 recruit.
So at Christmas, Pitino sent Caracter back home to New Jersey and told him to think about whether he wanted to return. Caracter's mother wasn't pleased. She told her son he could either return to U of L or get a job at Dunkin' Donuts. He promptly returned to school. Then, as a motivator, she mailed him a Dunkin' Donuts application to his dorm room.
He hasn't been much trouble since. Good old mom.
Louisville is laying waste to Stanford, 41-16, which means things have to be rather glum at Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. Except, of course, for the Cal grads.
BC scored at the buzzer to take a 41-39 lead into the half. This is a very good game.
As is the Davidson-Maryland game. I didn't think Davidson could win a game in the 90s but at the half its 44-43. Of course, Stephen Curry (who by law must be referred to as "Dell's son") is the best freshman scorer not named Kevin Durant. He has 18 already.
John from Pennsylvania said I have no business busting on Clark Kellogg's fashion. Which is true. Except, I was praising him for not wearing a pin-striped suit. He looks better than I ever could. Clark is smooth like that.
1:35 p.m. ET: The fine folks at the Blum, Konheim, Elkin & Ceglarek law firm came in. They're loyal readers and listeners to XYT 1270 radio, where I also do some work. They are also big Mike Valenti fans, which proves I can write something nice about Valenti. There are four of them, including the boss. And the boss ordered beer. It's all about billable hours, you know.
It's halftime for all three games, which means things slowed down considerably here. Everyone had time to concentrate on drinking.
I might as well take this time to discuss my biggest regret of this blog – no Texas game during the day. CBS smartly got Kevin Durant in prime time, where he will soon become a star outside of even the college hoops fan base.
Durant is the best college basketball player I have seen since I began covering it seriously in the mid-1990s. There is nothing comparable. He is so much better than all the other players. I have Texas to the Final Four because guys like this always make the Final Four. Dwyane Wade did. Carmelo Anthony did. And Durant is a better college player than either of those guys.
As much has been said about him I'm still not sure people quite get it. I had a radio host this week mention that Durant could draw Arkansas and North Carolina which means the Hogs' Stephen Hill and the Heels' Tyler Hansbrough might guard him, so it won't be an easy road. Ah, actually, Durant would score 50 on either of those guys. It's not even close. Those two will be rotation players in the NBA, Durant is a 12-time all star.
College fans – conditioned by endless TV blather – tend to confuse guys slapping the floor with defensive prowess. One has nothing to do with the other, although Duke Steve Wojcieowski was somehow once named national defensive player of the year.
You can slap the floor all you want on Durant, he is going to kill you. The Big 12 has a ton of great athletes and defensive-oriented coaches who saw Durant two and three times this season and no one could stop him. So what's he going to do now?
I don't think he is going to be like Carmelo as much as he will be like Danny Manning, who carried Kansas to the title in 1988. Danny and The Miracles they called it. Texas may not win this thing, but I think this will be the year everyone remembers Durant.
1:50 p.m. ET: Valued Reader Jason showed up and appears to be here for the long haul – at least through tonight's Marquette-Michigan State game. He usually spends this weekend in Vegas with his wife, who once landed a four-team parlay to turn $10 into $2,000. "I talked her out of betting $50," he admitted.
Both Tech and BC are shooting 52 percent from the field, with the Eagles leading 61-60. A sign of how well played the game is, it was the second one to tip off this afternoon but is on schedule to be the first one done by a good 20 minutes. It's almost six minutes of game time ahead of Davidson-Maryland.
A lot of buzz at the bar about Wednesday's Phoenix-Dallas double overtime game (the Suns won). That's how much fun Western Conference NBA basketball is, its got even a college hoops crowd excited.
There is a guy across the bar who seems to be rooting for Davidson not because he is a fan, but because his mortgage may depend on it. All I know is he is pacing, even though Davidson has stretched out its lead to 52-47 with 15 minutes left. Ah, amateur athletics.
Should it hold on to beat Stanford, Louisville's next game should be a fun one. If Texas A&M advances, then the game will feature Kentucky's old coach (Pitino) against the guy rumored to be a top choice as its next coach (A&M's Billy Gillespie). And it takes place at Rupp Arena, Kentucky's home court.
Sometimes Tubby Smith can't catch a break.
I'm pleased with the addition of the Blum, Konheim, Elkin & Ceglarek crew, and not just because they are good company. I find it reassuring to have legal advice readily available on days like these.
2:05 p.m. ET: The bloodletting of Stanford continues – Louisville is up 58-27 and may wind up winning by 40. Everyone in Sunnyvale please adhere to Maria Sansone's advice and "now, get back to work." There is nothing to see here.
Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe threw down the dunk of the day when he got loose on Davidson. The Terps are playing a good game. The reason this is a back-and-forth contest is because Davidson is legit.
One of the worst things about the tourney is that big-name schools get ripped when they lose to lesser-named schools. But this is no fluke. It's an evenly matched game that will be decided by whomever makes plays down the stretch.
Of course, Gary Williams looks ready to kill someone. He's the only man who could find a way to sweat in Buffalo this time of year.
Valued Reader Dave wants to know where my freeloading father, often a staple of these events is. He'll be here tomorrow, I know that. As for right now, he is probably back in Boston at Mary Ann's trying to pull that buy-me-a-drink-on-your-dad's-credit-card trick on rich BC kids. He perfected that move long before me.
I don't have the official stats, but BC has to be killing Tech on the boards. It's now 76-70 on the scoreboard, but if Tech could rebound better they'd stand a chance. If the Red Raiders manage to win, Georgetown is going to roll them due to second chance points.
The phone of one of the lawyers just rang. "Oh, hi mom. No, I'm at a bar." And to think, she was probably just bragging about her attorney son last night to her friends.
2:10 p.m. ET: When BC needs a hoop, Jared Dudley keeps providing it. When it needs a rebound, he's there. I think he is going to decide this thing at the end. He's the best player in the game. BC 78-74 with 1:35 remaining.
Maryland has 19 turnovers, which is hurting them, but they are still up 71-66 with 5 minutes remaining. The Terps look like they have too many scoring options in this one.
2:25 p.m. ET: The Boston College-Texas Tech game ended quietly, with the Eagles hitting their free throws to pull away down the stretch. There wasn't much Tech could do. It ends 84-75 for Bob Knight.
There is nothing like losing the first game in the tourney. Sixty-three teams remain. It was almost like Tech wasn't in it, they can charter back to Lubbock and still catch the late games.
Valued Reader Jake Shaw of Dallas wrote in to say:
"I think "Susan Shepard" is a fake screen name for one of two people: 1) Jim Boeheim 2) Sean Sutton. Just a guess.
Did you notice my Yahoo! synergy in mentioning "The 9"? I have to try something to get my bosses to pay the tab here at 24 Seconds. Lord knows what will happen when my man Gator shows up soon.
Davidson is in trouble, down 77-70 with 1:09 left. The bar is disappointed, they wanted an upset here and they aren't getting it. My Davidson gambler hasn't moved in two minutes. He is ashen.
By the way, I picked Texas Tech to beat BC. So I am already 0-1 on the day. Great start.
2:30 p.m. ET: Early games were rather disappointing. Louisville-Stanford was a massacre. Tech-BC was anticlimactic. And nothing really happened down the stretch in Davidson-Maryland. All the higher seeded teams advanced and everyone hit their free throws (the Achilles' heel of this tournament).
So for everyone stuck at work, don't feel bad. Of course, the beer was still good.
ACC is 2-0 on the day, which doesn't bode well for my theory that the ACC isn't very good this year and only UNC will advance to the second weekend. I know ACC fans won't spare me the emails until we have a larger body of work to run my hypothesis through, but don't get too excited yet.
All I can say about the Stanford basketball team is I'm glad they have an education to fall back on. Who let these guys in the tournament? After watching this I apologize to Arkansas for ripping their credentials.
2:40 p.m. ET: Valued Reader Jamil from Colorado Springs wrote in to complain, sort of:
I am so jealous of you. I am stuck at work, living the dream vicariously through you. Why don't you report that Jessica Alba stopped by to make sure you have something to look at in case all of the games are on a commercial break? Love your work, and drink a Bud Light for me.
If I mention Jessica was here then it would get too crowded and the waitress service would get slow.
Then there is Bill, who sounds like Jamil's long lost brother:
I am watching the games on the internet from Pattaya, Thailand. Find out about the place and babes. Nothing better than the triple Bs: Beer, Basketball and Babes. I have three with me now, want one?
No, I'm all set. And why do I think that just by printing that Chris Hansen may jump out of a closet any second now?
The legal dream team left between games. It really ought to be a great afternoon for the law.
No good games and a delay in the action – only Louisville-Stanford still playing. The crowd is concentrating on drinking. This might get dicey.
Oral Bob is underway with Washington State, 4-4 in early action. I love Oral Roberts, the man once spoke to a 900-foot Jesus. How many guys do you know who can claim that? You bump into him at a cocktail party and you don't move, you just listen.
2:50 p.m. ET: There are plenty of reasons to believe that Oral Roberts' 13-10 lead over Washington State might stand for a serious upset. And not just because coach Sean Sutton has guys like Caleb Green and Ken "King" Tutt going for him and they won at Kansas earlier this season.
Oral Roberts the man is an 89-year-old Christian minister/televangelist. He founded the Tulsa, Okla., school in 1963 when God commanded him to "Build me a university. Build it on my authority, and on the Holy Spirit."
While there was no dogmatic mention of a championship basketball team, Roberts has long valued the publicity it could bring. In the school's early days he even made recruiting trips himself, proselytizing not to potential followers but potential forwards.
It created some interesting recruiting battles, such as the time he went toe-to-toe with UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian for a Houston kid named Eddie Owens. Tark didn't like his odds.
"Here I am trying to sell Las Vegas while Oral Roberts is selling God," Tarkanian said. "You can't beat a preacher like that."
Of course, Tarkanian did beat a preacher like that and signed the recruit, who went on to be UNLV's all-time leading scorer. But that's Tark. When it comes to recruiting, God's will or not, you didn't stand a sinner's prayer's chance against Jerry Tarkanian.
Generally though, Roberts makes things happen. He is a high school drop-out who has written 120 books. One time he claimed God was going to "call him home" if he didn't raise $8 million quick. He got the money.
Another time he said he had a vision of a 900-foot tall Jesus, so he promptly built a massive hospital that included a 60-story building.
This guy can get things done.
Then there is the fact that Roberts claims to have healing powers, and some followers even say God has used Roberts' hands to raise the dead.
So you'd think a man capable of being part of a resurrection ought to be able to get a well-timed charging call.
"It is written on our court, 'Expect a miracle,' " Sutton told me last year when as a No. 16 seed ORU tried to beat No. 1 Memphis. "I don't know if it would be a miracle or not, but we'll try."
If, by chance, benediction does factor in, then ORU is in good shape. You know any other campus that boasts not only a statue of two 60-foot hands clasped in prayer, but a 200-foot tall Prayer Tower, home to a phone bank that takes prayer requests 24-hours a day from around the world?
I bet you want to reconsider your brackets now.
3 p.m. ET: Belmont jumped out to an early 9-4 lead on Georgetown going into the first TV timeout. Not that I am not rooting for some excitement ,but I would be stunned if the Hoyas didn't win this easily. Only severe fatigue from the Big East tournament could cost them.
Temporary chaos at 24 Seconds as the Oral Roberts game got switched off some how and all TVs are showing Georgetown-Belmont. This happened just after I filed my last update on Oral Roberts. Creepy.
I would just like to point out to God that I was just having fun with this column and I was in no way saying anything disparaging about Oral, you or 900-foot Jesuses. It's just, Oral should have signed him up to play center.
3:15 p.m. ET: Valued Reader emails:
Do you think Gary Williams will be next with the advertising space of Tip Top Dry Cleaners on the lapel of his sweaty suit jacket?
John, Raleigh, N.C.
Gary Williams sweat jokes? This could start a trend.
Was I the only geek making a Dick Van Dyke joke while laughing at the "O ROB" abbreviation of Oral Roberts on the game scoreboard? Probably showing my age. Darn clients keeping me from getting over to 24 Seconds, too.
John, Royal Oak, Mich.
My favorites last year were No Iowa and So Ill and, of course, when Bradley an Pittsburgh played and the scoreboard read: Brad Pitt.
I'm sure you receive a ton of emails like this, but really how did you land the greatest job ever?
Dan Fremling, Minnesota
I slept my way to the top.
We've got some Butler fans in the house for the game against Old Dominion – it's tied at 7 with 12 minutes left. I know the trendy pick was to give up on Butler, but I have them going to the Sweet 16.
Two things about them:
First, the Horizon has a bizarre scheduling deal where sometimes teams play Thursday-Saturday-Monday. Fatigue, I think, played a part in Butler finishing the year 4-4.
Second, two of those losses were to Wright State, which became a terrific team this year once they grew comfortable under coach Brad Brownell. WSU is about the best 14 seed I've ever seen and I think they can make the Sweet Sixteen also.
So I haven't given up on Butler. I'd like to see A.J. Graves shoot a little better though.
Maybe it's because Butler is from Indiana and their home gym, Hinkle Fieldhouse, is where the inspiration for Hoosiers won the state title (they also filmed the title game there), but on the Yahoo! scoreboard, Butler had only four guys playing.
"My team is on the floor."
The Oral Roberts-Washington State game has not returned to a TV screen here yet. I am honestly fearful of lighting bolts right about now.
Georgetown is up 13-11 on Belmont and I expect that to increase. If the Hoyas ever did lose, it would destroy more brackets than listening to Seth Davis. Or as John Calipari said, "Seth predicted Germany to win World War II."
3:30 p.m. ET: Oral Roberts-WSU game is back on. I said three Hail Marys, two Our Fathers and sent a check for $200. I think I'm safe. Of course, the game is at halftime. ORU leads, 28-26.
Texas A&M is up 10-3 on Penn, First Stanford, then Penn. Not a good day in Lexington for the smart guys. Menawhile, UK fans in attendance notice that Billy Clyde Gillespie looks awfully good on that Rupp Arena home bench.
Georgetown is up 9 on for whom the Belmont tolls. My cousin and Hoya paranoia fan Bill Knox, who once doubted my recommendation of John Thompson III, has yet to be heard from. Perhaps he is somewhere passed out with glee at the potential this month holds.
The "Oh, Dick" commercial just ran. Never fails to elicit a laugh.
Butler is 1 for 6 from three-point range and is trailing 14-12. At least Graves just hit a runner. Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth are determined to wave the banner of the Colonial this year.
I know George Mason didn't deserve an at large spot, but they almost won the CAA tournament – VCU and Eric Maynor literally stole it in the final minute – and I miss the Patriots. Yes, it got a bit syrupy at the end, but that's a great program with great people, great kids and a great coaching staff.
My man Gator just got here. Expect beer intake to increase and post quality to decrease.
3:45 p.m. ET: Gator just got off the radio, where he made his March Madness picks while doing each region in a celebrity impersonation. There was Jim Leyland, Christopher Walken, Mrs. Garrett from Facts of Life and Dominik Hasek.
Leyland, a Perrysburg, Ohio, native took Ohio State. Mrs. Garrett took Wisconsin because she loves whiskey. Walken selected Michigan State because he was inspired by the movie 300. And Hasek had Duke because there used to be a Red Wing nicknamed Duke.
Also, Edna Garrett selected Jackson State over Florida because she loves Willis and Arnold Jackson.
Now that's good radio.
Georgetown's Jeff Green is unreal. He somehow played a little below the radar this season, but coming off the Big East tourney, he's poised to become a huge star this month. Needless to say, the poor guys at for whom the Belmont tolls do not have anyone quite capable of guarding him.
Washington State started the second half on a 9-0 run to jump up 35-30 on Oral Bob. Maybe Cougar fans were calling the prayer center themselves.
Butler-ODU is going to be close all the way (we hope). It's 20-19 for the Old Dirties. Two really good defensive efforts considering how well both teams can shoot the ball.
4 p.m. ET: OK, the Oral Roberts coach is Scott Sutton, not Sean Sutton, who coaches Oklahoma State. I know both of these guys. So I don't know how I got it wrong or why I keep testing the wrath of Oral Roberts.
Valued Reader Emails
Dude, go challenge the Davidson betting guy to a couple rounds of dollar poker and deliberately lose. Yahoo! can write off the loss to charity. The guy needs to win at something about now.
Joseph Knapp, Irving, Texas
He left. Without saying a word. Not good.
I just wanted to thank you for this blog. I read it with more frequency than I should have last year while I was trying to finish up my degree at UCLA. And this year I'm studying medicine at Michigan and couldn't stop myself from getting hooked again. You should be proud that you may single-handedly cause me to fail out of med school. Thanks for living our dreams. This blog really is a public service.
Drew, Ann Arbor, Mich.
It's the least I can do.
(Re: Oral Roberts playing the 900-foot Jesus at center)
Can you imagine how difficult it would be to put a tiny ball into a tiny hoop at 900-ft. tall? Tark wouldn't fall for that one. Oral Bob would be on that recruiting trail alone. I bet the perfect-sized massive recruit would only be 8 feet tall and built like Shaq. Let's wax philosophical on this … what do you think would be the ideal size for the most physically dominating force in basketball (granted all sizes in consideration would have elite big-man game)?
Adam, Dallas, Texas
Listen, I already might be in trouble with the big man upstairs, you want me to claim that there could be a better basketball player than his son Jesus standing 900-feet tall? I'm dumb, but I'm not stupid. You're the one who got thrown out of that garden, Adam.
Are you saying Jesus Christ can't hit a curve ball?
Texas A&M-Penn might be the dullest NCAA tournament game ever. Unless you like watching defense and missed shots. A&M 31-16 and it isn't even that close.
Back to Stanford for a moment. When the Cardinal lost it was about 11:30 a.m. on their campus on the first day of the tourney. They didn't even make it to lunch. Considering they were out of it within the first five minutes of the game, they barely made it until breakfast.
Shouldn't they be allowed to join the NIT in progress?
4:15 p.m. ET: Washington State is pulling away from Oral Roberts, 65-51. I'm not questioning the wisdom of Oral not signing that 900-foot Jesus, I'm just saying that they could have used the size against a Pac-10 school. Do you know how hard it is to get height at the mid-major level?
In a nod to impartiality, Westwoood One has John Thompson Jr. calling the Georgetown game. He not only coached the Hoyas, he fathered their current coach.
"Next year they are going to hire Rick Neuheisel to break down the brackets," said Gator.
Not that it matters, Georgetown is up 16 and if you were one of the many who picked them for the Final Four, you have to feel good.
The two Butler fans in the house are getting heckled by every Old Dirty basket. Not that there is an ODU fan anywhere near here. The crowd is doing it just for the fun of antagonizing someone. It's been a long afternoon already.
A programming note, after these three games end, I'm off duty until noon tomorrow – same web site, same bar, maybe even the same jokes. I know some of you want me to continue blogging as the beer count rises, but I'd prefer to remain employed.
Go find you're own bar.
For those that wrote in wondering if I'd be here after 5, I'll be offline, but of course I'll be here. Did you really need to ask? I thought we knew each other by now.
4:21 p.m. ET: Butler hit a three on Old Dirty and the Bulldogs fans cheered wildly. "All right, 13 minutes left," one anti-Butler guy heckled.
Has a bar room brawl ever erupted over a game between Butler and Old Dominion? Could there be anything sadder, discounting the guy who lost a lot of money taking Davidson?
This might surprise you, but Belmont doesn't have anyone capable of guarding 7-2 Roy Hibbert. The poor kid who has to try is earning his scholarship right now.
Gator is single and a young lady across the way has caught his eye as particularly fetching. She was even reading through some paperwork at the bar. “She's literate,” he said. “That's a plus.”
Washington State finished off Oral Roberts, 70-54. Another anticlimactic finish. Georgetown and Texas A&M are rolling. All we have is Butler-ODU. Tomorrow better produce some better action or I am going to end up blogging the women's NIT next year.
4:30 p.m. ET: Penn is making a game of this with Texas A&M. The Fightin' Quakers have cut the lead to 35-28 and I swear I saw David Katz score a basket. Thank goodness, we could use another good game.
Some poor Belmont kid just got his forehead busted open. Bad enough to lose by 25 or more, but now he's got a bruise for his efforts.
Butler jumped up on ODU, 38-32. A Michigan State fan here wants to know why the entire Butler team looks like Drew Nietzel.
Gator got a little worried about the girl across the bar because for a minute there we thought she may have been drinking a straight Coke. If he stands the slightest of chances he needs her to be imbibing. Luckily it's a short glass.
"Gotta be a rum and Coke," he said.
I'm thinking any woman sitting in a sports bar in the middle of the afternoon is available. But he's got to work up the effort here.
4:34 p.m. ET: Butler hit four threes in a row, running the picket fence each the time for Jimmy Chitwood. The Bulldogs are in good shape unless assistant coach Shooter runs on the court drunk and gets a technical foul.
Meanwhile, Gator is all but admitting he has no game and he isn't going over there to talk to any women. And I thought Stanford gave a worst effort of the day.
Penn just went up two on Texas A&M at 39-37. A Kentucky message board just crashed from people calling for the firing of Billy Gillespie before he even gets hired.
4:50 p.m. ET: Valued Reader Emails:
I just explained to my office what you have been doing all day, and as we follow the games on our computers with Diet Coke being the closest thing to an alcoholic beverage, we decided that we are all leaving early and heading to a bar regardless of what our boss says! If we get fired, I am blaming you.
Doug Cordova, New York, N.Y.
You gotta play hurt.
I heard Mayor Kilpatrick is on his way over to 24 Seconds to meet up with you. Can you order him up a shot of Hennessey for his arrival?
A. Gabe Sybesma, Detroit, Michigan
After hours at the Manoogian. Let's just hope everyone makes it out alive.
My favorite scoreboard of all time was from a Dodgers/Brewers baseball game where the starting pitchers were Kevin Brown and Ben Sheets. The pitching match-up was displayed as "Brown-Sheets".
John Quinn, Columbus, Ohio
Butler won't stop hitting three pointers, so that game is over. Sorry, Old Dirty. I have renewed faith in the Likliter's Bulldogs. And, by the way, Wright State is going to be a tough, tough out. The Horizon is the new CAA.
Texas A&M has pulled it back out to eight, 47-39 with a little over seven to play. There are four reasons why Penn isn't going to pull the upset off – Acie Law IV.
5:10 p.m. ET: "She's on her second rum and Coke, now,” said Gator. "That's a good sign. Maybe it's a vanilla Stoli and diet."
If so, that's high class, maybe a little out of his league.
Old Dominion tried to mount a comeback but, as you might expect, Butler shoots 102 percent from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs aren't blowing games in this tournament. And they didn't blow this one.
As for A&M-Penn, nice effort by the Fightin' Quakers, but the Aggies were too strong, too sound and too well-coached to blow it. At least Penn made it interesting.
A guy who looks just like Santa Claus, only sans the red suit, just entered the bar. I think that's a sign that either Oral Roberts has put a hit out on me or its time to end this exercise. You'll have to make through the night games on your own.
All in all, a rather uneventful early day of hoops. No upsets. No buzzer beaters. Not a single "Oh, my" out of Dick Enberg.
And yet, it was great.
Not just the beer and the games but the strange camaraderie and humor that breaks out when a group of strangers all watch the exact same thing. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon will yield a wild slate of games – we're due. But once my father gets here, I'll hardly care. An afternoon watching hoops with my dad is always a good deal.
Plus it beats working for living. See you at noon on Friday.
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Friday, Mar 16, 2007 2:00 am, EDT