March Madness: Nothing’s Shocking

We get it.

Wichita State is the first No. 9 seed to advance to the Final Four. And their nickname is “Shockers”, and so it seems incumbent upon too many headline writers at too many major outlets, both print and internet (newphemism alert: “printernet“), to use “Shocker!” in their heds. As if what this team has done over the past 10 days or so is akin to Adele setting fire to the rain.

(On the other hand, using “March of the Penguins” to describe the NHL franchise’s 15-game win streak is dead solid perfect. It may be obvious, but that is only because nothing could possibly work better)

But nothing’s shocking in college basketball any longer. John Wooden and the UCLA Bruin dynasty is dead. Instagram? In college hoops we live in the age of Instateam, in which Kentucky can start four freshman and win the national title one year, then start nearly as many the following year and be bounced in the first round of the NIT. The monoliths — Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Indiana, Duke and the Bruins — are still capable of cutting down the nets, but they are just as capable, and have demonstrated it, of being bounced in the first or second round.

Is Jane really done with Sergio? He treats her like a ragdoll.

A program is only as good as either its incoming freshman class or the chemistry of its upperclassmen. Louisville was the smart pick to cut down the nets on April 8 before the tourney began (the even smarter pick was to pull a Seth Davis and pick two different schools for your two different employers, but I digress), and yet not a single one of the three All-American squads named so far has a Cardinal on its first team. The Cards, however, have a veterang group that plays well together and advanced to the Final Four a year ago.

Anyone who ever played pick-up hoops as a kid — I mean, lived to play pick-up hoops (Crestview Park, Middletown, N.J., representin’!) — understands that five guys who know each other well can defeat five more talented guys who do not. And that is why Louisville is so dangerous. Basketball, and this is only a happy coincidence but it fits, has all the letters inside of it to spell the word “ballet.” And that’s what well-played basketball is: A synchronicity of motion between five players who understand their individual roles in relation to that of the four others.

Iit’s also why, in case you were wondering, the Los Angeles Lakers are a .500 team this season even though they start three probable Hall of Famers.

Carl Hall

Yes, Perry Farrell, nothing’s shocking in college hoops these days. So why do too many people at ESPN and other outlets continue the Cinderella narrative? It’s trite and it’s inaccurate. Wichita State starts two seniors, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman. They’ve taken down two teams that have a first-team All-American this season (Creighton with Doug McDermott and Gonzaga with Kelly Olynyk). They’re 30-8. They’ve led every one of their four NCAA tournament games by at least 13 points and have held 20 points in both games this weekend.

Nothing’s shocking about Wichita State having advanced to the Final Four. What’s shocking is that anyone who covers college hoops — or pens headlines — is still pushing that pill on us.


“THE FILM ROOM” with Chris Corbellini

NFL guru and cinemaphile Chris Corbellini went to see “Spring Breakers” and filed this review. (I’m continually awed by and grateful to people who volunteer their time and talent to contribute to this site. Anyone else who wants to do so, just contact our home offices via comment.)


Conduct a nationwide poll of overprotective fathers asking for nightmare characteristics of a potential boyfriend for their teenage daughters, have a court artist sketch a composite, then mix in 20 percent more alligator and 10 percent more Jesse Pinkman and you’ve got James Franco in the new movie “Spring Breakers.” He enters the film like a reptile with bling around his fangs in Act 2 and at that point you just have to roll with it. From there, what you’ve got coming is “Cheerleader Scarface.”


Franco’s non-Italian army

A confession: For the first time in my movie-watching life I entered the theater curious about who would be sitting next to me, guessing chatty teenage girls together, and balding, paunchy men in their 40s and 50s sitting alone. That’s exactly what I got. The opening montage of female flesh and funnels on the beach – with the lens so tight on the action it feels like the cameraman is a discarded flip-flop – made both demographics erupt into hysterical laughter.  Soon enough former Disney actresses smoke enough wacky tobacky in college to make their agents tear up, a well-orchestrated (and directed) robbery happens, more hedonism followed in every crevasse imaginable and absolutely nothing was learned. This is Spring Break, you’re told, and dialogue and clothing is optional. But director Harmony Korine wasn’t finished. Franco shows up to raise the stakes, bailing this filly foursome out of jail after a bust in a local hotel.


I suppose this is the spot I should talk about the lead actresses – Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Korine’s wife, Rachel. I’ve never seen one frame of those House of the Mouse motion pictures or television programs they’ve built their reputations on, so I only have a vague sense of the image they are gleefully torpedoing here. The director divvies up the juicy lines and lines of cocaine fairly evenly during Spring Break week, and also plops the group into what must have been real-life, improvisational situations (a roof-wrecking party in a hotel room, a neighborhood pool hall) and not one of them drops the ball completely. Not knowing anything about the girls beyond still images in US Weekly, I thought Gomez has the most potential for a long acting career. Her character Faith is a student at a bible college, the angel on one shoulder, and the one Franco’s “Alien” character zeroes in on like the big, bad wolf. She also looked 11 years old to me and the sweetness has not quite left her eyes, and I was relieved to see Faith flee to safety.


Innocent or cruel, I think women make better voice-over artists than men in movies, and Korine does a fine homage to Sissy Spacek’s small-town-girl VO work in Terrence Malik’s “Badlands” by having his actresses talk about happiness and connecting with others as footage of debauchery and violence plays out. The spine of the second half of “Spring Breakers” is Alien surmising these girls are down with a life of crime to snap out of the monotony of their lives, and exploiting that. There are scowling rivals to gun down. Stacks of cash to be made. Spring Break. “Money. And big-old booty. The American Dream,” in Alien’s words. At least that’s what I noticed. The film is a crystal bowl that slipped off the table, and it’s up to you to pick up the shard you see first.


Whatever you scoop up, at the very least it’s well-made. There is luminous cinematography involved (a darkened college lecture and the tracking shot of the robbery spring to mind). The editing is edgy and non-linear without being distracting – making you feel like you’re piecing together events from a hard day’s night the morning after. The performers were willing to go all-in for the director – willing to dress up in pink ski masks armed with heavy artillery while dancing around a crooning Franco. Yeah, it’s that kind of loony tunes and I won’t recommend it very highly, but not a frame of it is boring.


There’s an old line about how most people work, others are lucky enough to have a career, and a precious few find their calling. Korine impressed me with his debut screenplay “Kids” back in the 1990s, and it’s obvious indie filmmaking is his calling. Perhaps after another not-quite-mainstream hit a whale like Marvel Studios will allow him to make, say, an Iron Man 4. He has the requisite skill to stage it, but I doubt Korine directing something of that scale will come to pass. He’d have Tony Stark smoking out of a Cabbage Patch Kid bong.


One last note for NFL fans: I thought the judge in the courtroom scene looked familiar and after an IMDB search discovered the role was played by John McClain, a longtime pro football writer for the Houston Chronicle. Seemingly random casting – a sports journalist from Texas flown in to shoot one scene in Florida – but it worked. I felt that way about long stretches of “Spring Breakers.”


1. If you find yourself on a blind date, never lead with a Holocaust joke. In fact, it’s best not to lead with a joke at all (Question: “How many Vietnam veterans does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN!”) until your date has a better appreciation of who you are and your sense of humor. And that, dear reader, is where Doug Gottlieb went wrong last night.

It wasn’t that Gottlieb’s joke was partiuclarly offensive. To refresh, it was just after 7 p.m. and CBS’ NCAA studio show, with host Greg Gumbel and analysts Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley –all of whom are black — as well as Gottlieb, who is Jewish white, appeared onscreen. Gumbel introduced Gottlieb second, after Anthony, and his very first remarks were, “I’m just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man’s perspective.”

Watch as both Gumbel and Smith look behind themselves as if to say, “Where did that come from?” Anthony stares intently at the desk and mumbles, “Okay.” Barkley chuckles.

You can’t spell “Gottlieb” without G-L-I-B. Anthony’s reacting as if Doug just swiped his credit card (oh, too soon?)

It was not THAT offensive. Not at all. It’s just that Gottlieb is not only the token white guy, he’s the token never-played-in-the-NBA guy. He’s the guy on that set with the least big network experience. It’s kind of like being the weakest member of the gang at a rumble and calling out the other gang. Know your place.

Also, Gottlieb noted just before the joke that this was a time of “the cream rising to the crop.” So, he was already distracted by the joke he was about to unleash.

A few moments later, as Kenny Smith attempted to pull a Denzel Washington and safely land this upside-down aircraft (he is “The Jet”, after all) before it completely crashed and burned, Gottlieb interrupted to ask why everyone was so uptight. Smith handled this expertly: “You jumped right in,” said Smith, then waited a beat. “I’m free, I might add.”

Finally, let’s note that the entire show began with a thinly disguised ad-parading-as-an-inspirational intro for the film “42”, which is being released by Warner Bros., a sister company of CBS. The film, of course, traces the route of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier back when baseball was America’s No. 1 sport. I don’t know if Gottlieb was attempting to leapfrog on that moment or not, but either way it just made his quip more ironic and awkward.

2. Syracuse topples No. 1 seed Indiana with its 2-3 zone. When Jim Boeheim has long, athletic defenders like these and they’re really motivated, the Orange look unbeatable. The Hoosiers commited a season-high 18 turnovers, Cody Zeller texted his agent midway through the second half to inform him that he’d be remaining in Bloomington one more year (!), and Tom Crean did an awful job of preparing his team. Next time, Hoosiers, let Norman Dale lead you to the Sweet 16.

Block-a-Zeller Center? Stay in school, Cody. Stay in school.

By the way, thanks to The Big Lead for this video of the Crean-Boeheim postgame handshake. Is this the part where the NCAA and conference commissioners remind us that coaches are molders of young men?

3. The fortnight in billionaire hedge-fund trader Steve Cohen. Last week, agrees to pay $600 million fine to SEC to make insider-trader allegations disappear (if you haven’t been paying attention lately, Lady Justice’s new slogan is “What’s in YOUR wallet?”). Tuesday: purchases a Picasso painting for $155 million. Purchases a $60 million home in East Hampton without even seeing it in person first. Mr. Cohen’s shopping spree should be all the proof you need that a reliable penis-enhancement surgical procedure remains a decade or two away.

“More is better” — It’s not complicated

As this story argues, both HSBC and now Mr. Cohen have figured out a way to avoid prosecution/incarceration. Make the US government a financial offer it can’t refuse. America: Where freedom is now for sale.

4. A Forbes survey proclaims Austin, Tex., as the second-fastest growing city in the United States. And, who knows, the Lone Star State’s capital might be No. 1 if all those Longhorn basketball players were not fleeing. Yesterday Sheldon McLellan, who led Texas in scoring most of the season, announced that he would transfer. Backup guard Jaylen Bond announced he would transfer earlier this month while sophomore poing guard Myck Kabongo, who led the ‘horns in scoring but sat out 23 games due to an NCAA suspension, likely will turn pro.

Austin powers up the rankings of fastest-growing cities

5. In this piece on the Today show travails, Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times gets it exactly right: Ann Curry should never have been promoted to No. 1 anchor in the first place, Matt Lauer is very good at his job but he won’t recover soon from how Curry was excised from the show, and Savannah Guthrie is good enough and pretty enough but she just fails to stand out.

Earlier today Lauer tried to have some fun with the controversy by tweeting, “@savannahguthrie Me storming out of the office after your middle finger salute”. Maybe he was just trying to offer the white man’s perspective to this controversy.

Meanwhile, CNN just announced a morning news team of Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan (me neither). Right now, if I had a network, Anderson Cooper would be the face of my morning show. And I’d actually ask Julia Boorstin of CNBC to be the co-host. Either her or Kate Upton.


Two friends in the business, Jerry Palm and Doug Tammaro, were responsible for the best laugh Twitter has provided me in quite some time last night. Tweeting during the second half of last night’s Indiana-Syracuse contest, Palm, a guru and Purdue alum, tweeted, “When was the last time Syracuse got a shit off?” Tammaro, a Sports Info Director at Arizona State, instantly fired back, “Damn, where is autocorrect when you need it?”

I’d show you Jerry’s tweet, but he has since deleted it. I’ve got to admit, my friends disappoint me. It was a Twitter misfire (like yours, Josh Elliott), but you NEED TO OWN IT. Your jobs are to inform people. When you erase the news you make, how do you hold others any more accountable for doing the same? It’s a little thing, but never erase the record. The record is what it is.

Richard Deitsch is correct. This is a solid read.

If you want to make money in the next two weeks, bet against the Phoenix Suns. Every night. And bet on the Sacramento Kings.



Sweet 16 Hoopage

CBS  and TBS, 7 p.m.

Watch as Doug Gottlieb opens with a Crucifixion joke! Michigan-Duke is the game I’m most looking forward to (The Fab Five vs. Hurley/Laettner contest from 1992 will be referenced) (UPDATE: My bad: As you know, Duke faces Michigan State while Kansas plays Michigan), but we’ll all be watching to see how close FGCU can make it against the Gators. Will Amanda Marcum get more screen time than Julie Boeheim did last night? And if their husbands’ teams meet later in the tourney, can someone arrange a walk-off?

Dunk City may be the fastest-growing metropolis in America





Starting Five

Steakateria double today. This will be as brief as my Calvin Klein undies (TMI!)

1. Streak Ends at 27 Miami loses at Chicago, and thus endeth the second-longest win streak in NBA history. Former Dookies Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer scored 28 and 21, respectively. Somewhere, just out of habit, Mercury Morris popped open a bottle of Dom.

2. Life keeps getting better for Oscar Pistorius, whose bail has been eased. He may now compete internationally in track meets while awaiting trial. A moment now as we update the status of Reeva Steenkamp… oh, yes, still dead. If I’m the starter at Oscar’s next race, I’m firing the pistol four times.

3. From the “Print is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet” files: The Sporting News is laying off at least a dozen writers and editors, including my old AOL Fanhouse colleagues Lisa Olson and David Whitley. The analogy of polar bears looking for an iceberg on which to rest while treading water in a steadily warming polar region applies here.

“So I won’t be covering the Final Four this year?”

4. You know, on second thought, give me a home where the buffalo don’t roam

5. Rick Reilly to Aaron Craft: “Could you see how some people might find you annoying, not just in basketball but in real life?” Craft to teammate: “I think he’s asking you, Deshaun.” Sportswriters, do the following: 1) Pull out old “Bobby Hurley” feature. Step 2: Insert “Aaron Craft” wherever you see “Bobby Hurley”. Step 3: Press “Send”.


East Regional semifinal, Syracuse vs. Indiana

CBS 9:45 p.m.

Let’s replay the 1987 national championship game! The Orange beat a No. 1 ranked team back in January, when they edged Louisville by two at the Yum Center. Tonight they’ll take on Cody Zeller and top-ranked Hoosiers in the Sweet Sixteen.





Starting Five

1. “You heard me, rabbit! I said, ‘Draw!'”

So I wanted to tell you about the 0-0 draw between USA and Mexico in the World Cup qualifier last night (this is apparently important stuff on a night when the Heat don’t play and Amanda Marcum’s husband is not coaching), and I was looking for a pop culture reference. Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”? Too violent, but you know, the USA does cross into Mexico and wreak havoc, so the analogy rang somewhat true. Then I thought I recalled Yosemite Sam (“The toughest hombre to cross the Rio Grande…and I don’t mean Mahatma Ghandi”) barking the line atop this item — but I was unable to locate it.

So, yes, the USA picked up an important draw at Azteca Stadium

However, I did unearth this 91-second clip that reminds me all over again of the genius of Mel Blanc. We were five year-old kids watching this stuff, most of the jokes flying way over our heads, but who cares? Eventually, we got them. There’s no Smurf/Care Bear/Spongebob inanity going on here. Everything from bad puns (“Sue City”) to gin rummy. If I ever have children, they will be fed a steady diet of Bugs Bunny and we’ll refer to each other as “you darn  galoot.”

2. Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna. Delaware hoops: Delle Donne.

In her final home game as a Blue Hen, Elena Delle Donne (no relation to Roseanne Rosanadana) scores 33 points to lead Delaware to an upset of North Carolina and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. The 6-6 senior eclipsed the 3,000-point mark and is now just one victory away from an Elite Eight showdown versus Geno Auriemma and the Huskies. It’ll take an upset of Kentucky to do so –and maybe some more referee support; as Tar Heel coach Sylvia Hatchell said after last night’s game in Newark, Del., “I wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court”… oooh, suh-nap!)

Other Blue Hens of note include Joe Flacco and Jeff Pearlman

ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo, erstwhile sunny-faced post player who also led a then-nowhere program to the Sweet Sixteen (and beyond) back in 1995, tweeted this after last night’s game: “Can’t remember the last time I enjoyed seeing someone play as much as Delle Donne. The best part: She acts like she’s been there before.”

In other words, she would have made a perfect Husky (by the way, B., I can remember the last time: her name is Diana Taurasi).

Kind of a shame that it’ll take a near-miracle (newphemism alert: a “nearacle“) to see Delle Donne go up against Brittney Griner (who also scored 33 points last night0. And even more of a shame that this never happened.

3. The Coach K tree is growing more branches. Former point guard –and arguably the best leader Mike Krzyzewski ever coached — Bobby Hurley accepts the head coaching job at Buffalo while another former guard, Chris Collins, has agreed to terms with Northwestern… a school that has never ONCE been to the NCAA tournament, even though the first NCAA championship game was played on its Evanston campus. Meanwhile, Jay Bilas is THE keeper of the flame of college hoops at ESPN. So where the hell is Christian Laettner these days?

Meet Teddy Greenstein’s new best friend.

Turns out that he runs the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy, which as you can see, offers discounts to players from Kentucky, Connecticut and North Carolina “for causing you all so much pain, agony and hate over his four-year career at Duke.”

4. He’s taking the black. Chase Hilgenbrinck, who played soccer at Clemson and then professionally in both Chile and then the MLS, is a 5th-year seminarian. If only he weren’t so homely looking, maybe Chase would have found a girlfriend.

Carmela Soprano has already requested he be assigned to her parish. As the girls would say, “Fr. Whatawaste.”


5. One of my very favorite people at the steakateria (and the list keeps growing) is a hyperkinetic actor named Dan who, besides looking like the lead singer of a rock band and having more manic energy than anyone I’ve ever met, is absolutely obsessed with baseball. So Dan has implored me to mention one Yasiel Puig, a 22 year-old Cuban outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers who batted .526 in the Cactus League this spring with an .842 slugging percentage. Yesterday the Dodgers sent Puig down to their double-A affiliate, with manager Don Mattingly noting that Puig “didn’t look happy” about the news. Mattingly calls Puig “an unpainted Ferrari.” In a year or so Puig will own a few of those.

When Yasiel makes the Show, the bleachers in the outfield behind him will be known as The Puig Sty



Wide receivers Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson are transferring from Notre Dame. And just when Bookstore Basketball is starting up. If you’re going to transfer from Notre Dame, fine. If you’re going to endure January, February and March in South Bend only to depart when the weather is finally improving and the coeds are only wearing one layer of sweatpants to class, I question your sanity. It has been noted that with the departures of Aaron Lynch, Gunner Kiel and now Neal, the Irish have lost the top three players from their 2012 recruiting class. Lynch and Neal left for (mostly) hometown honey-related reasons (i.e., fatherhood), why Kiel wanted to be someplace where he could start.

Neal in the national championship game.



As noted here before, the Washington Wizards are one of the best, if not the best, bad teams in NBA history. The Wizards are 26-44, but when oft-injured John Wall, who scored a career-high 47 points in Monday night’s defeat of Memphis, is in the lineup they are 21-16. From 4-28 on January 6 after losing by 28 to the Heat, they have gone 22-16.

This is a squad that has now beaten Memphis, Oklahoma City (whom it visits tonight), Miami, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, both New York teams, both Los Angeles teams, and Denver (twice).  In other words, the Wizards have beaten seven of the eight playoff-bound teams in the East and six of the eight playoff-bound teams (as of today) in the West.

They’ve also lost to Charlotte. Twice.

Still, Randy Wittman is correct: They’re no circus.

John Wall (the “ters” is silent)

Here are the standings for both conferences. Washington has beaten every team that is bold-faced.



New York








San Antonio

Oklahoma City




Golden State




Remote Patrol

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls

ESPN 8 p.m.

Wouldn’t it be just like 5-7 Nate Robinson to ruin the anticipation of the Easter Sunday showdown between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs? Miami has this bad habit of falling behind in the first half on the road recently, but against teams such as Orlando and Cleveland, it has not cost them. Tonight, versus Chicago, such a flawed first half might be more costly.

Will Nate flex versus the Heat?






Starting Five

1. The Gift of the Magi(c) The Heat’s first stop on its four-game road trip is a puddle Lake Okeechobee-jumper upstate to Orlando, who own the league’s second-worst record. Miami went on a 20-2 run late in the third and coasted to its 27th straight win, 108-94 . Of course, this was the second-most important game between two Florida-based teams this week (FGCU vs. UF in NCAAs later on). Meanwhile in New Orleans, Denver’s 15-game win streak was truncated by Brian Roberts (WHO???) and the New Orleans Not-Yet-Pelicans. Roberts, a rookie from Dayton making his second start, had 18 assists as the NONYP Gulf-coasted, 110-86.

Life of Ti

2. He’s baaaaaaaaaaack. Tiger Woods wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational (our invitation never arrived, either) and more importantly, returns to his rightful No. 1 ranking for the first time since October, 2010 (you know what happened the following month). Tiger went some 2 1/2 years without a victory. He has now won six times in his past 20 starts and three times in 2013. It’s actually going to be a surprise if he does not win at Augusta next month.

3. Hey, JW, is there any connection between Florida Gulf Coast basketball and Notre Dame? Why, as a matter of fact there is. The NCAAs may be the Big Dance, but the world’s largest annual outdoor basketball tournament, Bookstore Basketball, is just commencing in South Bend. More than 600 teams participate. Last year’s champion, Hoops We Did It Again, was led by Beau Bauer, a Notre Dame athletic department employee who also happens to be a former captain of the FGCU basketball squad. Bauer hit the game-winning/tourney-winning shot in a driving rain storm (big thanks to @SIDandtheScribe for this info).

Beau Bauer

Bookstore Basketball buckets (of rain)






4. In sportswriter transaction news, Will Leitch announces that he is leaving New York magazine to join Sports on Earth, the USA Today site. So SoE loses Joe Posnanski, picks up Leitch (and a copy editor to be named later). In related news, and I am not making this up, Will’s old pal Buzz Bissinger announces that he is a…shopaholic. Term I want to use more often: shopaholism. (I think all three of these men suffer from an advanced case of megalomania, but that’s another item for another day).

You can’t go any further from anti-establishment (Deadspin) to establishment than to join “the Nation’s newspaper.”


5. Don’t look now, but it appears as if Geno Auriemma may have gotten the message through to his Huskies after they lost the Big East Championship game to Notre Dame earlier this month. UConn, playing the first two games of the Women’s NCAA Tournament on campus, won by margins of 68 (Idaho) and 33 (Vanderbilt) points. Now Geno’s Traveling Show must trek a full 78 miles southwest to Bridgeport for rounds 3 and 4. A potential Elite Eight matchup would pit UConn against Delaware and former Husky recruit Elena Delle Donne, a six-foot-five senior who is second in the nation in scoring (25.5 points per game). For those of us who are actually interested in women’s hoops, this is the matchup we’re dying to see. Delle Donne has never played UConn.

You can be sure that Geno is Delle-aware




In music and physical science news, My Chemical Romance is breaking up dissolving. The solvent? It would seem that lead singer Gerard Way, as this letter attests, had an epiphany while performing in Asbury Park, N.J., last May. So, despite what their most popular tune promises, MCR will not in fact “carry on.”

In replay news, Costa Rica demands a do-over with USA in soccer and Italian prosecutors want to retry Amanda Knox for murder. Double jeopardy is not a principle of the Italian criminal justice system. Extraditing Knox from Seattle to Italy may prove difficult.

Remand Amanda? (You law students, feel free to overturn this caption on grounds of insufficient evidence)


That moment, later this week, when NBA fans realize that the epic Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs game can only be seen on NBA TV.

This is no way to fight for an 8th seed. The Loss Angeles Lakers (36-35) drop their third straight (although, on the bright side, at least this time it was to a playoff-bound squad) at Golden State. The Warriors (41-31) led by 23 at halftime. Warrior coach Mark Jackson was blunt: “We are the better basketball team. They are in the rear view mirror and I have not checked it and I will not.” Stephen Curry (25 points) and Klay Thompson (22) are fast becoming the most dynamic backcourt in the NBA. And Jarrett Jack (19 points) is a super third guard to have around.

East Baywatch: Curry and Thompson, both of whom are sons of former NBA players.

This seems, well, unnatural, but somehow the U.S. men’s cross-country squad finished ahead of Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships in Poland this weekend. Ethiopia took gold, the U.S. silver, Kenya bronze.

Kenya believe it? Yanks finish ahead of African juggernaut in Poland.

Chicago native Tom Zbikowski, who was released after one season with the Indianapolis Colts, signs a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears. He always belonged there. Best Chicago native/ND alum to become a Bear since Chris Zorich.

Zibby, back in his “I Could Be the Lead Singer for A-Ha” days in South Bend

Time magazine puts out its annual Twitter 140  Jim Rome made this list over Bill Simmons, Cecil Hurt and Steve Rushin, meaning that Time did not follow its own standard of finding “the very best wit and wisdom that Twitter has to offer.”

Cyprus banks remain closed until Thursday, or until George Bailey can convince the Russians not to pull all of their money out.

As Flock of Seagulls once sang, “Aurora Borealis comes in view, Aurora comes in vi-eeeeewww.” The Northern Lights, as seen from Iceland last week (doesn’t this deserve an Enya soundtrack?)

When you were 15 and alone in your bedroom, chances are that you were not using your time as productively as Nick D’Aloisio. He taught himself to write computer software and devised a free newsreading app that he sold to Yahoo! yesterday for $30 million. D’Aloisio, who is now 17, will work for Yahoo! out of its London office. No word yet on whether Marissa Mayer will allow him to work from home, even though he seems to do all of his best work there.

Remote Patrol

Walking Dead marathon

AMC 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Taking you from the Season One finale far into Season 2, as Rick and the refugees flee Atlanta. Zombies? No, Freaknic. (I kid, I kid.)


“No. He said, ‘Walking.’ If I were…dead that would not be…something…you would enjoy seeing…on televsion.”

We note that both “Splash” and “Smash” (What rhymes with “trash”?) are on TV tonight. Apparently, the latter is a decent show.


Big weekend. Big. Let’s begin, shall we?

Starting Five

1. Sweet 16: The Iranian, the Maxim Cover Model, and Some Dude Named Cleanthony

You want colorful? Oregon, a 12-seed that everyone, before the tourney began, decried was the most egregious mistake the selection committee made, advances while being led by a native of Iran, Arsalan Kazemi. A transfer from Rice, Kazemi grabbed 33 rebounds this past weekend. What does Oregon know about advancing in the NCAA tourney? Well, the Ducks won the inaugural tournament back in 1939, but other than that…

Kazemi: The Middle East’s answer to Eduardo Najera




Then there’s Florida Gulf Coast University, located in Dunk City, Fla. Not only are the Eagles the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, but they are just one of seven schools this weekend that won both games by at least 10 points. This was no accident. The particulars you need to know:

1. The school only began holding classes in 1997.

2. It first fielded a Division I hoops team in 2007.

3. Coach Andy Enfield shot 92.5% from the free throw line as a player at Johns Hopkins (he holds the NCAA record for FT accuracy), earned his MBA, made a fortune with a computer software company, and then took a Maxim cover model, Amanda Marcum, out on a first date that included an NIT game and a trip to Taco Bell. In Queens (or so I’ve read). And she married him.

Practice your free throws, kids.

Finally, there’s Wichita State, which knocked off No. 1 seed Gonzaga. They are the Shockers, but let’s not call their victory a shocker. Please. Cleanthony Early, coming off the bench in both games, scored 37 points for Wichita State (Kansas has two teams in the Sweet 16; Florida has three) over the weekend. We desperately hope that Cleanthony has an evil twin named Dirtyrone.

2. Now THAT is a white-out! (a.k.a. “Denver Pile…of Snow”)

If you channel-surfed away from the March Madness blowouts on Friday night and happened upon ESPN, you came upon the surreal scene of a World Cup qualifier (Costa Rica vs. USA from Denver) being played in an epic blizzard. While the Costa Rican soccer federation is protesting the game — Team USA won 1-0, after having lost last month in Costa Rica — this story by The Daily Mail illustrates that soccer has been played in similarly snowy conditions over the decades.

Maybe soccer belongs in the Winter Olympics


3. Minnesota Women

Minnesota has produced the likes of Jane Russell, Cheryl Tiegs, Jessicas Biel and Lange, and Loni Anderson. Add the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team to that august list, as the Golden Gophers defeated Boston University 6-3 in the NCAA championship game to consummate their sport’s first perfect season. The GGs went 41-0 to win their second consecutive NCAA championship while extending their winning streak to 49 games.

Amanda Kessel, the top player in women’s collegiate hockey (whose brother, Phil, plays for the Maple Leafs), scored 2 goals in the final.


4. This family from Overland Park, Kansas, really does not want to hear you whine about your harrowing airport experience.

5. This is Kyle Dake. On Friday evening the Cornell senior became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win four national championships in four different weight classes: 141 pounds as a freshman, 149 as a sophomore, 157 as a junior and 165 as a senior. He had to defeat defending NCAA champ David Taylor of Penn State in the final, a match so anticipated that event organizers rearranged the schedule so that it would be the final bout of the night. Dake finishes his collegiate career with a 132-4 record. Now it’s on to Brazil in 2016.



Fron the “Wooden You Know It?” Files: Saturday evening: Sources report that UCLA coach Ben Howland has been fired. Later that evening, UCLA issues a press release saying that Howland has not been fired. Sunday: the Bruins fire Howland.

Were this anyone else in the world of sport, you might be surprised. But it was Sergio Garcia, so you were not. Birdies don’t exist in these kinds of trees.

This may be why Garcia always struggles in desert stops on the PGA Tour

Anderson D. Cooper (“Danger is my middle name”) goes diving with Nile crocodiles on “60 Minutes.” Of course he does.

Cooper: “To be honest, the line outside the men’s room at Splash in Chelsea is more harrowing.”


As many of you know, I’ve been on the Nate Reuss bandwagon since seeing his former band, The Format, open for All-American Rejects back in 2006 (don’t hate me; I took my two nieces to the show).  When I first visited the steakateria to discuss working there, he happened to be sitting next to me at the bar and we struck up a conversation (just two Arizona natives hanging out in the Big Apple). Anyway, this is my favorite song from his breakthrough album with fun.. (Do I write “fun..” at the end of the sentence or is it just “fun.”? Help me, Joseph Erwin).

Jay Leno keeps poking the bear. After all that he’s done (ask Messrs. Letterman and O’Brien), the funniest part of all this is that he’s auditioning for the role of sympathetic figure.

The Heat have won 26 in a row. The Nuggets have won 15 in a row. Both play tonight, in the southeast. They don’t play one another the rest of the season.

Someone in New Jersey purchased the sole winning ticket for the $338 million Powerball lottery. And if history is any guide, their life is about to be pure misery.

Remote Patrol

After four days/nights of gorging yourself on NCAA hoops? Go to the gym tonight.



Starting Five

1. “LaSalle Shocks K-State” reads the headline. “Harvard Pulls NCAA Tournament Schocker vs. New Mexico” proclaims the USA Today. Gentlemen: There are no unbeatable teams in this tournament. There were five different No. 1-ranked (and as many No 1-rankled) schools this season: Indiana (twice), Duke (twice), Louisville, Michigan and Gonzaga. Miami is arguably better than all of them.

A Notre Dame-Kansas final would provide a “Hail Mary, full of grace/The Lord is Withey” headline

Why was the La Salle win a “shock?” Because the Explorers were a lower seed? Didn’t La Salle defeat one more top ten opponent (Butler) this winter than the Wildcats did? And while I’ll grant you that Harvard over New Mexico was a mild upset, both schools had three losses since New Year’s Eve. If a No. 16 were to defeat a No. 1 — all eyes on you later tonight, Western Kentuckuy — for the first time in NCAA tournament history, I’d grant you the s-verb. Until then, let’s not overhype first-round upsets.

There are no shockers in this tourney. There are Shockers (Wichita State moved on to the Round of 32) and there’s Shaka (Smart, coach of VCU), but no shockers.

2. Print is dead. Dominus vobiscum.

Even the pope is canceling his newspaper subscription. The newly elected Pope Francis phoned a Buenos Aires kiosk earlier this week to inform them that he would no longer be needing his daily newspapers (“But what if we offered you the next ten weeks free? And added a Religion section?“)

3. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy says that winning 33 consecutive NBA games is a “bigger accomplishment” than winning the NBA Finals and apparently this is controversial? I understand –and JVG understands — that the goal is to win the Larry O’Brien trophy (now THAT is LOB City), but someone does that by default ever year. No one has won 33 consecutive NBA games in more than 40 years. There’s a reason for that: it’s very difficult to do.

Sure, we could post a Jeff Van Gundy pic here, but this is Julianna Hough. Her boyfriend –Ryan Seacrest — just dumped her.

The Miami Heat are a better squad than both the Boston Celtics and certainly the Cleveland Cadaverliers, and yet trailed the former by 14 and the latter by 27 before winning both games earlier this week. The Denver Nuggets, owners of a 13-game win streak, needed five points in the final 10 seconds to outlast a moribund Philadelphia 76er team playing on the second night of a back-to-back — at altitude — after having lost by 29 one night earlier.

My point? The Heat –and the Nuggets — are going to get their opponents’ A-plus games for as long as their streaks shall survive. That’s why it’s such a tremendous accomplishment (and that is also the hidden cost of creating a college football playoff and eradicating the current system, imperfect as it may be).

4. Yesterday we noted that hippos kill more humans in Africa than any other wild animal. However, we at MH like to consider ourselves a hippo-neutral enterprise. We recognize that while hippos may be deadly, it’s usually only to protect their turf (and since they cannot own guns, what other choice do they have, Mr. LaPierre?). Anyway, we came across this video yesterday and thought we’d present it in the interest of delivering “fair and balanced” hippo content.

To all the hippo-critics out there: shut your yaps.


5. Terrific investigative feature on UCLA prodigy Shabazz Muhammad by Ken Bensinger in the Los Angeles Times. It turns out that Shabazz is actually one year older — 20, not 19 — than listed in the UCLA media guide, but who cares? As for his overbearing dad, Ron Holmes, who are we to judge? And how is Ron Holmes all that different from Earl Woods (father of Tiger) or Richard Williams (dad of Serena and Venus). All three raised children in southern California, all three encouraged –and often pushed — them to succeed in their chosen sports, and two of the three fathers have ridiculously wealthy offspring. Soon, three of them will.

We predict Muhammad will score 19 –no, make that 20 — points versus Minnesota tonight

The stories you rarely if ever read about are of the dads who go full-metal Marinovich on their offspring, who either rebel or fall far short of any type of success. But, hey, who doesn’t have an issue with his or her parents at some point in their lives?


March Madness


Still on the docket for tonight: Notre Dame versus Iowa State, Western Kentucky attempts to become the first-ever No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed (Kansas… expect to hear the name Ali Faroukhmanesh if it does), and Minnesota takes on UCLA in a battle between schools whose campuses are located in cities that have been home to the Lakers.



Steakateria double followed by an early morning steakateria shift. Sorry to be brusque/but today’s IAH at dusk. Enjoy the tourney.

If you guys were the No. 3 seed that knocked out Harvard, you would have knocked out Harvard.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! 3/21-derful!

If you are a sports fan –and you probably are if you are reading this — then today is the equivalent of Christmas morning. TOO. MANY. PRESENTS.

Starting Five

1. Let’s Dance!

Thirty-two games, beginning with No. 14 Valparaiso vs. No. 3 Michigan State at 12:15 p.m. from Auburn Hills. The earliest local start belongs to No. 13 New Mexico State and No. 4 St. Louis, who will tip off at 11:10 a.m. local time from San Jose…. Easiest “upset” picks of today: No. 11 Bucknell and Mike Muscala over No. 6 Butler or No. 12 Oregon, led by 6-7 Iranian native and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi, over No. 5 Oklahoma State and freshman stud Marcus Smart. Or is Kazemi’s presence on the Ducks’ roster just a gigantic ruse disguising his real covert mission in the USA, a mission that will only become clear to all of us 30 years from now when Ben Affleck buys the rights to his story? Hmmmm….

You go your way, and Argo mine? No?

2. Over at Deadspin Drew Magary — who else? — has compiled the Ultimate Curse Word Bracket (don’t hit the link, mom) that is inspired in terms of its seeding. Of the four No. 1 seeds, we’d only supplant one, switching it out with the No. 5 seed in that same regional (you’re smart; you can figure it out). Left out and presumably headed for the NIT of Curse Word Brackets: Rat Bastard. A fun game, if it were possible, would be to cross off every one of these 64 terms once a coach uses one during an NCAA tournament game.

3. Heat Night! (and no matter how far and wide we searched, there was no YouTube video of this tune by The Waitressses. It’s a shame) Down 27 with just over 18 minutes to go in Cleveland — the Cavs kinda blow and were without their three leading scorers, yet somehow had managed to gain a 27-point advantage — the LeBronsters came all the way back. In fact, Miami led by nine with three minutes remaining, meaning a 36-point reversal in about 15 minutes of play. James, who played all 24 minutes of the second half and nearly accumulated a post-halftime triple-double (his overall stats were 25, 12 and 10), exerted his will.  The streak extends to 24. And Cleveland, poor Cleveland, experiences yet another excruciating kick to the (see Nos. 8 and/or 16 in the “Body Regional” bracket from the item above) as far as sports fandom.

4. Gone, Baby, Gone

Remember Gavin Smith, the handsome Fox movie executive (okay, he was a distributor) who disappeared last May 1st? Smith, a former UCLA basketball player under John Wooden (his son Evan played at USC last year), simply vanished without a trace. Now, finally, LAPD detectives appear to have some solid evidence to lead them to conclude that he was murdered.

5. This list is, well, to use the author’s own name, Gall-ing. I’m not even a Stuart Scott fan, but how do you leave him off the list of the 20 Greatest SportsCenter anchors but include Kevin Frazier? Also, Rich Eisen would be in my Top 10. Way ahead of Dave Revsine. And I agree with Neil “Howzit” Everett: “(He’s) in the top ten, Roger.”

My Top Five: Patrick & Olbermann (it’s a matched set), Kenny Mayne (back when he actually worked for a living), Chris Berman (once upon a time; he was their first huge star, you cannot deny that), Scott Van Pelt, Neil Everett. Eisen as sixth man. Then Linda Cohn.


If you’re keeping score, Kate Upton has a dinner date with Arnold Palmer, 83, (pssst, Kate, order an Arnold Palmer) and has been asked to the prom by a reach-exceeding-grasp high school student. And yet Arash Markazi has her on speed dial. We are not even going to add a photo of Kate Upton in here, which may make us the first sports blog ever to mention Kate Upton without including a photo. Instead, here’s a photo of a hippopotamus. Not that we are making a comparison, because we are not.

“Hippopotamus” means “river horse” in ancient Greek. Hippos kill more humans than any other wild creature in Africa. As Les Miles would say, “So you know…”

He was sentenced to write “I Will Not Carry A Prohibited Firearm” 100 times on a chalkboard. Or at least I hope that was the punishment.

Tina Fey checks the “Meet and Be Interviewed by James Lipton” box off her career to-do list. And revives Sarah Palin while doing so.

Speaking of Alaska, it looks as if the Iditarod is setting up for an historic finish! Mush Madness, y’all! And, yes, there are Musher Babes: twin sisters Anna and Kristy Berington.

The Berington twins: To Nome is to love ’em.


NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament


12 p.m. to pass out

What are the odds that CBS invites Ed O’Bannon on to discuss his views of the tournament and the NCAA at large? I could tell you about the day’s most intriguing matchups and players, but CBS “senior blogger” Matt Norlander has done a better job than I could do right here.