March 10, 2005
Montana and
Fairleigh Dickinson:

Big Sky and Northeast Conferences send their reps to the Big Dance, before the lull while the Majors battle it out in early league-tourney rounds. QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
PRURIENT.  INTEREST.

The biggest hurdle Congress faces in its showdown with MLB isn't players defying the subpoenas.

Or legal pushback from a rare tag-team of MLB and its union.

Or "taking the 5th" and granting immunity.

Or public pressure and mockery from pundits.

Or the "elephant-not-in-room" absence of Barry Bonds.

It's the NCAA Tournament.

I said it here Wednesday morning, and it was echoed by PTI's Tony K. last night on SportsCenter:

The first day of the NCAA Tournament is the worst time to get attention for any other story in sports.

Because fans' only interest is the brackets -- their bracket -- and the madness of games tipping off all over the country while they sit at work, manically refreshing ESPN.com's scoreboard page every 15 seconds.

If Congress was trying to bury this story, next Thursday would be the best time. Promoting it that day? We can't hear you.

The best thing that could happen for Congress is that the showdown with MLB's legal team pushes this thing back, even just a few days.

Because on this day, more people want to:

Watch Niagara than listen to Palmeiro talk Viagra.

Think about their Final Four in St. Louis getting hammered than listen to McGwire recount his days in St. Louis hitting homers.

Or fixate on games in Boise, not games played by noisy Congressmen.

ACC Tips Off
What promises to be the most competitive conference tournament in the country tips off today, and the top 5 teams don't even play.

Maryland tries to apply CPR to its Tourney hopes, against a Clemson team that's a big reason the Terps are on the Bubble.

N.C. St. needs to beat Florida St. to keep Bubble hopes alive, too; but also to set up a rematch with rival Wake (without Chris Paul) on Friday.

Miami brings a No. 57 RPI and 13th-ranked schedule strength, in a must-win vs. Virginia, happy to spoil the ACC newbie's fate.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
NCAA Tournament Selection Committee: Begins seeding today
Ohio St. coach Thad Matta: Illini-beater gets 8y/$11m deal
Sidney Crosby: Next NHL sensation (hunh?!) signs w/ Reebok
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Gary Barnett: New calls for his ouster from panel chair
Lance Armstrong: Publicly supports Paris 2012 (not NYC)
Wade Miller: Non-Believer Skeptics 1 (month), Sox Nation 0
 
UNC, Wake, Duke enjoy a bye, eyeing No.1 seeds; Va Tech and Ga Tech look forward to playing each other Friday, winner leaving the Bubble.

Quickie ACC pick: UNC.

Big East Quarters
What does it say when every team in the Big East quarterfinals is either an NCAA Tournament lock or strong Bubble team? (NCAA locks in bold; Bubblers in itals.)

Quarterfinal mayhem in NYC:

1 B.C./8 W. Va. (12, ESPN2)
4 Nova/5 Pitt (2, ESPN2)
2 UConn/7 G'town (7, ESPN2)
3 Cuse/11 Rutgers (9, ESPN2)
That's not a league tourney; that's the East Regional. My pick to win it: UConn.

Best of Rest
Featuring: The Bubblers!
(Bubble teams in itals.)
(Lock teams in bold.)
(Ineligible teams striked)
(My bias underlined.)

Big Ten (My Pick: Illinois)
8 N'western/9Michigan
7 Iowa/10 Purdue
6 Ohio St/11 Penn St.

Big 12 (My Pick: Kansas)
8 Mizzou/9 Nebraska
5 Iowa St/12 Baylor
7 Texas A&M/10 Kansas St.
6 Texas/11 Colorado

Pac-10 (My Pick: Arizona)
1 Arizona/8 Cal
4 UCLA/5 Oregon St.
2 Washington/7 Arizona St.
3 Stanford/6 Washington St.

SEC: (My Pick: Kentucky)
W5 Mississippi/E4 S. Carolina
E6 Georgia/W3 Mississippi St.
E5 Tennessee/W4 Arkansas
W6 Auburn/E3 Vanderbilt

C-USA: (My Pick: L'ville)
1 Louisville/8 TCU
4 UAB/5 DePaul
2 Charlotte/7 Memphis
3 Cincinnati/11 So. Fla.

Don't worry: Friday, when the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC have their quarters, there'll be even more coverage here.

Suns: Empty W
The Suns beating the Spurs (playing without Duncan and Ginobili) is as worthless a playoff indicator as any of those Suns' losses without Steve Nash.

If anything: Only winning by 6 (at home!) is more of an indicator that the Suns would get shellacked by a full-strength Spurs squad.

Yes, even if PHX uses this W to vault to home-court edge in the West playoffs. Home or not, the Suns haven't shown they can beat the full-strength Spurs.

Edge on Block
At a bargain price! It won't even take a first-rounder to get him, according to Edgerrin James' agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Left unspoken is that it will take a lot lot lot of money.

Speculation has "fins."

Notre Dame:
Choking loss to Rutgers in Big East first round should effectively end Irish hopes for an at-large NCAA bid. Enjoy that NIT.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
Jayson Stark on steroids
Vote: MLB/Congress
 
Ranking Conference Tourneys
ACC
UNC, Duke, Wake: Whew!
 
Big East
Jockeying for No. 1 seed?
 
Big Ten
How will Illinois rebound?
 
Pac-10
Ariz-Wash showdown?
 
Big 12/SEC
KU, KY playing for 1 seed?
 

Tice update: He admits to ESPN that, yes, he did scalp tickets, but only as an assistant (never as head coach). Expect much more digging.

As long as ex-Cards P Rick Ankiel is never expected to hit the cutoff man, his attempt to move to the OF should be compelling to watch.

Don't expect much to happen to UConn coach Geno Auriemma after reports he got into it with a Rutgers player after the Big East tourney title game.

Very under-the-radar, the Marcus Williams lawsuit against Bill Romanowski is one of the most compelling sports stories of the year.

Condolences to family, friends and fans of 1946 Heisman winner Glenn Davis, of the fabled Army teams (yes, junior, Army was once a national power).



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