The Sports Gal's picks

Before we get to the Sports Gal's picks, here are some relevant links and e-mails from the past week:

• Remember when I joked that ESPN should have assigned me to the Holy Cross-Bucknell game so I could have been the first announcer ever ejected from a basketball game for screaming at the refs? Well, this happened to Blazers announcer Mike Rice in 1994 and Cincy announcer Chuck Machock during a Gonzaga game in 2003. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed us about this.

• Multiple readers sent along the definitive Gus Johnson broadcast: the last 40 seconds of the UCLA-Gonzaga game from last year's tournament. It's a tour de force -- everyone remembers Morrison crying, but nobody remembers Gus turning into Rob Schneider as the Orgasm Guy. I'm still distraught that we're losing Gus after the first two rounds this year. We might need to kidnap James Brown or Verne Lundquist.

• Multiple readers sent along information on Charles Oakley's new car wash (a link that originally came from Hoops Hype). This sounds like the ideal venue for his first action movie when he becomes the next Shaft -- there's a murder at his car wash and Oak has to find the killer. I think this could work.

• In my Celtics-Rockets diary, I made a joke about Dikembe Mutombo's finger-wave getting grandfather-claused. Well, guess what? According to Kwame in Queens, "I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or not but when the taunting rule was being introduced, the NBA specifically said Mutombo could do the finger wave as long as he didn't direct the finger at a player and just did it to the crowd. How this is different from throat-slashing gesture is beyond me but that's the rule."

• FYI: Friday's blog never ran because I called an audible and turned it into a magazine column for this week's issue of ESPN The Magazine. We're not running it on the Web site until next week, so if you want to read it before then, check out the magazine when it comes out later this week. The topic? Mr. Billy Packer.

• This cracked me up: The Columbia students are protesting because Matthew Fox was named this year's commencement speaker. I made fun of my buddy Hopper (a Columbia grad) about this and he replied, "I think its awesome! I hope there's a huge student protest and they throw eggs and hardback editions of Boccaccio's 'Decameron' at him."

• I'll link to anything that ties together Kobe and the Macho Man.

• From Indy reader Tony A.: "John Gasaway of the Big Ten Wonk blog tracked the speed of games played by the power conferences. He measures speed in terms of 'possessions per 40 minutes.' It will come as no surprise to you that the Big Ten plays at a significantly slower rate than any other conference and that most of the slowest teams in any power conference come from the Big Ten.

• I'm linking to this only so people will stop sending me the link: Not only does Curt Schilling have his own blog, but he's thrown himself into it and there's some legitimately insightful/interesting stuff in there. (I loved the section about Keith Foulke in the March 11 posting. Couldn't agree more.) Between Schilling's blog and Gilbert Arenas' hilarious blog on, I like the direction we're heading here. Everyone thought this would happen in the late-'90s -- players bypassing the media to communicate with fans directly -- only we didn't have the right players to pull it off and all of the player blogs were dreadfully boring. Then Paul Shirley came out of nowhere two years ago and broke the door open. Now we have Schilling and Arenas taking it to another level because of their visibility. Excellent.

• You'll be happy to know that Time Warner sent not one but TWO technicians over Tuesday to fix our cable problem in our bedroom. Sure, it took four days, but everything's working. Would this have happened if I didn't write a column for the most-read sports Web site on the planet? I don't know.

• This gets my vote for "Best March Madness Time Waster" -- this year's Name of the Year ballot.

• After I called Nike's "Second Coming" commercial my favorite hoops commercial of the decade, Alex K. from Minneapolis made a good point: "The best b-ball commercial of the decade? No way. It might be sappy, nostalgic, and sure there's no horrid overacting by perennial all-stars, but you can't tell me this one doesn't give you chills every time you see it." Agreed.

• A couple of readers sent along this YouTube montage of buzzer beaters from the Basketball Jesus. Good times.

• To answer the two most common NBA questions from the past week -- yes, there is some serious Ewing Theory potential with the Sixers right now, and no, I can't even fathom how Isiah got an extension when his team is five games under .500 in a crappy conference with a $120 million payroll and no lottery pick in 2007.

• Finally, check out this article about the graduation rates among the teams in this year's NCAA Tournament and pay special attention to the school with the highest graduation rate.

All right, time to turn things over to the Sports Gal ...

The Sports Gal speaks ...

Bill offered me a chance to pick March Madness even though I don't know anything about college basketball. Then again, I didn't know anything about the NFL and still managed to beat his football picks. Now he's back for more humiliation. I don't care if I sound like I'm rubbing it in because Bill beats me in everything we play and even cheats sometimes. The first time we played Scrabble, he flipped one of his letters over and played it as a blank -- I didn't even realize what happened until there were suddenly three blanks on the board. I couldn't believe it. We'd only been dating for six months. He claimed it was an accident. He also talks trash, which is a problem because I'm super-competitive -- one time, he made me so mad that I flipped over the board and stormed off. He's so happy when he's winning, it's really annoying. The minute he takes the lead in any game, he makes little digs even though he knows I'll get mad -- stuff like, "How many points will you get if you spell L-O-S-E-R?"

That's why I loved beating him in NFL picks so much. Here's how I did it: After he e-mailed me the spreads each week, I chose each team based on my connection with them. Like, if my friend Teresa was going to Cincinnati for business that week, then I'd pick the Bengals. I always tried to pick the Giants (my dad is a Giants fan), the Cowboys (my friend V loves Drew Bledsoe) and the Patriots (for obvious reasons), and I always picked against Chicago because the city isn't as cute and quaint as Boston and not as glamorous as New York -- I'm not sure why anyone would live in Chicago unless they wanted to live near deep-dish pizza. If that's your reason, I accept it. Also, when I was picking the games, I never took more than two favorites in a row and tried to zig-zag between the favorites and underdogs. That was my system. Feel free to use it next season.

But wait, before we get to my NCAA picks, we have to discuss Britney. Everything unraveled for her right after I stopped writing my rants. I can't say I was surprised -- I've seen this coming since "Chaotic." Everyone keeps saying she hit rock bottom when she shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, but I think it happened the day before she went into rehab, when she tried to check into the Mondrian but they wouldn't give her a room because she didn't have any credit cards, then she ended up shaving her legs in the Mondrian pool's bathroom, then she borrowed a bathing suit from two friends she met at the pool. I am still in shock over this whole thing. She could have filmed a sex tape with the entire Clippers team, including Chris Kaman, and I wouldn't have been as disgusted. How do you shave your legs in a public bathroom? How could she borrow a bathing suit from a complete stranger? That's just gross! I warned everyone what would happen to someone who made friends with Paris Hilton and nobody believed me.

The other big thing that happened since I stopped writing was the Anna Nicole saga, but I'm abstaining from comment because I didn't care about her when she was alive. We should make a rule that nobody is allowed to lead "Entertainment Tonight" or appear on the cover of US Magazine if they haven't been responsible for a single redeeming moment in their entire life. The world would be a better place.

Here are my tournament picks:

Sweet 16: Florida over Zona ... Maryland over Butler ... ND over Oregon ... UNLV over Wisconsin ... Kansas over Nova ... V-Tech over HC ... Duke over Pitt ... UCLA over Gonzaga ... UNC over Marquette ... Texas over USC ... WSU over GW ... Georgetown over BC ... OSU over BYU ... Virginia over Long Beach ... Louisville over Penn ... Memphis over Creighton.

Final Four: Florida over UNLV ... UCLA over Kansas ... Texas over Georgetown ... Ohio State over Louisville.

Championship game: Texas over Florida.

My explanation: Bill is totally obsessed with this Kevin Durant guy and I've watched 5-6 Texas games. Well, I haven't exactly watched them -- I'm usually reading a magazine or something while Bill's watching them. But I have to admit, he's fun to watch and seems like a nice person. Even his mom seems sweet. So that's the only team I know and that's why I'm picking them.

The bigger problem is that Bill says we're moving back East if the Celtics pick Durant in the lottery. I wanted to move back East for two years and he wouldn't move back. ... Now I actually like living in California and we'd have to move back only if the Celtics get a specific basketball player? Isn't this grounds for divorce? At first, I thought Bill was joking, but he keeps saying, "I can't live 3,000 miles away if this guy is playing for the Celtics. I can't live 3,000 miles away if this guy is playing for the Celtics." Now I hope the Celtics lose the lottery. Sorry.