7:00 We're back! Things took a decided upswing over the break: The steroids trial followed by Soap.Net re-running the "90210" Christmas episode where Steve Sanders decides to find his biological mother (the one where Ian Ziering won the Lifetime Anti-Emmy), followed by "The Karate Kid" on Flix. I'm almost bummed out that the games are starting again -- Daniel-San was just finishing up with Miyagi's fence.
7:04 I have to say, SI's Seth Davis is one of the better print-to-media guys in recent memory -- not only does he look like he belongs on TV, his insights are superb (including the Alabama prediction of Alabama's demise this afternoon). I mention this only because he just said he thought Winthrop had a chance tonight -- sending me scurrying online to see if we should hedge my Gonzaga bets. Now that's respect.
7:10 Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas are back -- this time, they're doing the Nevada-Texas game, leading to Enberg telling us that Nevada's Kevin Pinkney is NOT related to former Villanova star Ed Pinckney. I love how announcers feel the need to clear this up now at all times, either way.
7:15 Just spent some time talking about Wake Forest's Chris Paul, a mortal lock to become a fantastic NBA player some day. But who does he remind you of? House compares him to Isiah, I say he's like Terrell Brandon with a higher upside. We'll see. All I know is this: I'll be making fun of whichever team takes Andrew Bogut in the draft over Chris Paul. Relentlessly.
7:22 Correction: Tony Hawk dies on "CSI: Miami" this Monday, not "CSI." Needed to straighten that out. We can only hope that leads to Caruso examining the body, taking a dramatic pause and saying, "From the looks of this ..." (pulling off sunglasses) ... "his skateboarding career ..." (lowering voice) "is over."
7:24 Winthop coach Gregg Marshall's suit provokes a round of laughs -- he looks like he was shopping with the boxers from "The Contender" last Monday. Plus, he has the Randy Pfund Memorial "Maybe they'll call me the next Pat Riley if I slick my hair back" look going.
7:27 Is it possible for Isiah Thomas to sign Ronny Turiaf to a $50 million contract right now? Would that violate NCAA rules?
7:30 Chattanooga 12, Wake Forest 10!
7:31 Right now we have Batista (from Gonzaga) working inside against Bradshaw (from Winthrop). Where are Triple H and Kurt Angle?
7:37 Check out these scores: Texas by 3, Utah State by 2, Chattanooga by 3, Winthrop by 3. Wow. Maybe March Madness was on a seven-hour delay this year. By the way, I refuse to type out Chattanooga anymore. Let's just call them Noogs from now on. Cut me some slack, I'm on pace for 8,500 words today.
7:41 Noogs 20, Wake 12! And their best player is named "Pugh." Very exciting.
7:43 Wow, Gonzaga's throwing up bricks, falling behind early and potentially screwing up my bets ... as Ralph Kiner would say, it's like deja vu all over again. On the bright side, we just thought that House left a six-pack beers in the freezer for the last four hours ... but it turned out they were in the fridge. Any good news counts right now.
7:50 Harlan effortlessly rattles off the name of Gonzaga sub Pierre Altidor-Cespedes. I wonder if he's ever met Guillaime Yango? We all agree that Pierre sounds like a dictator in Haiti or something.
7:56 You know you wagered on too many games when it takes you five minutes to figure out if you have any money on Utah State (beating Zona by 4 right now). Did I mention that they have a whitewash going right now?
8:00 As if three upsets-in-the-making weren't enough, here comes Kobe-Shaq 2! Any time Sir Charles is on location, that trumps three NCAA upsets in the making. At least for five minutes.
8:08 Ernie Johnson asks Shaq about his legendary "Godfather" analogy about Kobe, Wade and Penny, prompting Shaq to explain, "I'm a very quotatious person." Fantastic.
Back in an hour.
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8:20 Here comes the Kobe-Shaq greeting ... um ... what? What just happened there? Kobe walked by, said something like "Hey big man," Shaq said: "What up, man?" and then Shaq put out a fist touch that Kobe didn't see. How do we score that? I guess if we were betting on that one, it would count as "Verbal greeting with no contact" (paid 3-to-1 odds).
8:23 I just confessed to the boys that I have money on Kobe's over for points (31) in tonight's game. "That's all right," House says. "I have the over on Nate Funk's total points and assists tonight." Oh.
8:29 Four NCAA games separated by a total of five combined points right now, plus the Lakers are beating the Heat. I just seized control of the remote from House -- we need a true professional to navigate this one.
8:33 Chip's babbling about golf right now -- I may have to pull a John Chaney and order someone to clothesline him.
8:36 Well, it wasn't quite Kobe-Shaq, but we did have a fight tonight: Rufus (the young upstart) giving up a good 40 pounds but giving the Dooze everything she could handle.
8:40 Right after CBS shows the "No 14-seed has beaten a No. 3 since Weber St. in 1999," Gonzaga scores to finally take the lead with 16 minutes left.
8:42 If you wagered that Craig Sager would wear an ugly, lime-green St. Patrick's Day blazer tonight ... well, it's time to cash in.
8:47 Dan Bonner on Gonzaga's Adam Morrison: "You talk about a guy having a big second half ... "
Actually, we weren't talking about that. We were talking about the Winthrop coach's bright-blue suit -- we just decided that Michael Irvin and Shannon Sharpe are the only two people who would wear it. In other news, Wake's pulling away, so is Nevada, and my old intern just showed up.
8:52 Here's something we haven't seen enough of today: Scrubs jumping happily up and down on the bench.
8:54 As Utah State threatens to throw their second whitewash of the game -- five white guys at the same time -- Chip googles "Whitewash" to see if I was credited with coming up with the term. No dice.
8:57 Wake 59, Noogs 45. That was fun for awhile. Can you tell I'm losing steam? I'm like the rabbit in those 1600-meter races that suddenly starts to look like they're running in cement sneakers.
9:02 Texas 57, Nevada 56, 1:30 left ... totally forgot about this game. "The 8-9s do nothing for more," House explains. "The winner plays Illinois. They're done." I guess.
9:05 Lemme ask you something: My Dad is 57 years-old -- I think he goes to the bathroom every 45 minutes. If he's walking by a restroom, he just goes in out of habit, like he doesn't want to waste the opportunity. And yet Dick Enberg is like 20 years older than him, but he can announce four straight games and sit in the same place for two straight hours. How does he do this? Does he use a catheter? Did he have his bladder replaced? I need to know these things.
9:07 Texas misses two chance to tie Nevada in the past 10 seconds ... I wish I could say that was exciting, but it was more ugly than anything. They're officially in the "Let's show Nevada's coach's wife every 20 seconds" stage of this game, just to make it interesting.
9:11 Winners so far tonight: Nevada, Wake and Zona. It's pretty sad that the only buzzer-beater we've seen tonight was in the XCingular commercial.
9:16 Honestly? I got nothing. They should have staged the entire Day One in Jacksonville, that's how bad it is. Crummy basketball, players shrinking from the moment, anticlimactic endings ... you name it. It's a bloodbath. Out of all the possible Day Ones, this had to be the one where I tried the real-time running diary?
9:25 Gonzaga takes care of business. Whatever. Back in an hour.
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9:35 Just took charge of the pizza order -- I hate when someone else does it and talks to other people in the group into something like, "What about red peppers and olives on one of them?" And the other two claim they'll have a couple of slices, but then, when the pizza comes, everyone hops right on the box with the pepperoni and mushroom. When I'm ordering, it's always some combination of pepperoni, mushroom and sausage with the pizzas, and that's that. Hasn't failed yet.
9:37 Charles Barkley weighs in on St. Patrick's Day: "Just what the Irish need, another excuse to drink!" Imagine if anyone else said that?
9:38 Just saw a promo for "Amityville Horror" remake. Normally I'm vehemently against remakes, but I'm okay with this one. It was time.
9:42 This seems like a good place to mention the rules to my NCAA Player Pool, which is pretty cool. You have to pick five players from the 1-4 seeds, five from the 5-9 seeds, and three from the 10-16 seeds. Add up everyone's total points, rebounds and assists on your team throughout the tournament. Highest points wins. Basically, you want guys who will put up stats and keep playing as long as possible.
Here's my team this year: Francisco Garcia (Louisville); Larry O'Bannon (Louisville); Charlie Villaneuva (UConn); Josh Boone (UConn); Hakim Warrick (Syracuse); Curtis Stinson (Iowa State); Donnell Taylor (UAB); Omar Thomas (UTEP); Brandon Bass (LSU); Mike Wilkinson (Wisc); Danny Granger (New Mexico); Dijon Thompson (UCLA); Daniel Kickert (St. Mary's).
(You have to admit ... pretty cool idea.)
9:45 I can't say who this is about, so I'll just quote Chip's question and you'll have to guess: "Did he buy a new toupee, or did he just dye the old one?"
9:47 Nate Funk is white! Wow! Add him to the Reggie Cleveland Group. Not only did House have him on his roto team, he even wagered on his points-assists over tonight.
"I had no idea!" House yelps excitedly. "Who knew?"
9:53 Just spent the last five minutes debating whether there was a "Play that funky music white boy" joke about Nate Funk that wasn't too obvious. Probably not.
9:59 While watching "Night Calls 411" on Playboy, we all come to the conclusion that this should absolutely be the format for "SportsCenter" on ESPN 6. I won't say anymore. Mainly because I would get fired.
10:07 Since the pizza just arrived, here are two funny stories from the Clippers game last night that I forgot to mention:
1. House and I spent the whole game wondering what Johnny Davis was doing with his rotation -- he was shuttling guys in and out with no rhyme or reason, everyone looked ticked off, and they ended up losing by 15. We joked about him all game. When I woke up this morning, House was already up and made a "They fired Johnny Davis at 3 a.m. last night" comment. I thought he was kidding. He wasn't.
2. Porn star Mary Carey (the one who ran for Gov. of California) was sitting seven rows in front of us, a guest of Magic backup forward Mario Kasun, who kept winking at her during timeouts as she screamed "Let's go Mario!" These were the things that happened during the Johnny Davis Era in Orlando. Anyway, she was wearing a shirt about four sizes too small for her -- and she's amply endowed, so that was a problem -- travelling with a strung-out fellow porn star who asked a Clippers employee if he could help her out because she wanted to, um, get to know (I'm paraphrasing) someone on every team in the league.
(These are the things that take place when you have season tickets to the Los Angeles Clippers.)
10:18 The Intern (working for the Rome show now) regales us with celebrity sightings from his first month in LA: Cheech Marin, Roger Lodge, Jim Lampley ... that leads to this exchange:
--Me: That's all? That's all you've seen.
--Intern: Does Jim Rome count?
10:22 Good news: I'm losing more bets. Creighton and LSU are down by a combined 17 points. Also, Kobe hasn't scored in about an hour. Instead of gambling on March Madness every year, I should just make a $1,000 donation to charity. At least do something nice with my money over making money for some Caribbean internet gambling warlord.
10:32 Just had this sequence of events after my cellphone rang:
--Chip: What's your ring tone, it sounds familiar?
--Me: The theme from "'Good Times."
--The Intern: What was "Good Times"? Was that a "Happy Days" spinoff or something?
(Stunned silence in the room.)
10:35 Miami 90, Lakers 76, three minutes to go. We're officially in "Kobe blows up after a game and throws his teammates under a bus" range.
Back at midnight to wrap things up. Who knows, these late games might start getting good.
(Nahhhhh ... )
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10:45 Just realized that No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson was trailing No. 1 Illinois by a single point. These are the things that slip by you when you've been watching TV for 11 straight hours.
10:49 We don't have Seth Davis here to sum up today's action heading into the last hour, but we do have Joe House: "I didn't think the play was particularly poor, it just wasn't compelling. The best guys we saw today were Bogut, Morrison and maybe even Juan Mendez. And Milwaukee made a bunch of threes. That's all I can remember. Other than the Alabama coach taking a dump on national TV."
Chip's thoughts (playing the role of Clark Kellogg, right down to the fact that he won't make eye contact with me): "It seemed like we spent the whole day waiting for a game to get good, and none of them ever did. Maybe this last batch will come through."
(Don't get your hopes up.)
10:56 I'm losing feeling in my left index finger.
10:59 One thing I've noticed about college hoops this year: The tattoos have gotten better. Clearer, sharper, better colors.
11:07 Showing on ESPN right now: Brian Boitano's Skating Spectacular. We should just run the test pattern during March Madness. Or just a running loop of ESPN commercials, or Charley Steiner cracking up after Carl Lewis sings the National Anthem.
11:12 Either they just said that the leading scorer for Creighton right now was Johnny Mathis, or I think I'm having an aneuryism.
(Note: They did say it -- only he spells his name "Mathies.")
11:15 The 120th showing of the David Spade Capitol One commercial reminds me of something: Did anyone see him hosting SNL last week, when they had that "Sean Penn Celebrity Roast" sketch? First great SNL sketch in years. Seriously, you have to go back to Alec Baldwin hosting "The Tony Bennett Show" for the first time. And then NBC followed it up with an old SNL hosted by Bill Russell at 3:00 AM, the one where he played "The Black Shadow" in one of the pantheon sketches of that decade. What a night of comedy. What did we do before TiVo? All right, what did I do?
11:22 Illinois's up by 13, LSU's losing by 20, UCLA's trailing by 7 ... only the Creighton-West Virginia (they're up by 2) is saving the late-night group of games.
11:16 There's a shot of Cavs coach Paul Silas in the stands. See you next Tuesday, Paul?
11:27 I have to say, I like the concept behind that Ashton Kutcher-Bernie Mac movie -- take a white movie, flip it around and make it black. They did this with "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Vacation" as well, and those movies did okay (even though they were terrible). They just never pick the right movies. What about something like "Black Breakfast Club, or "Black Shining," or even "Black Natural"? These movies wouldn't make money? Really?
11:31 The bad news: LSU is down by 26. The good news? Um ... there is no good news. I'm getting murdered today.
11:40 By the way, we have another potential dictator name in this game: Jarmon Durissieu-Collins. He should stage a takeover of Haiti with Pierre Altidor-Cespedes.
11:42 Nate Funk with a three! Creighton leads by one, 2:21 left. This is the closest we've come to a good game all day other than Gonzaga-Winthrop, which had a worse ending than "Roxxxy Red."
11:49 Wow! Funk's three gets blocked, followed by a fast-break layup by WVU with 3 seconds left. Now THAT was exciting! Sure, I'm going to end up pushing with Creighton +2, but THAT was exciting.
11:53 Nate Funk misses a three at the buzzer. Game time. And with UCLA headed for a loss, here's my final tally for the day: 14 straight hours of TV; 1 turkey sandwich; 1 Red Bull; 3 beers; 40 Baked Lays; four slices of pepperoni and mushroom pizza; 10 forgettable games; 1 decent one; 1 good one; a ghastly 1-6 on my bets; one eye tick.
See you tomorrow morning at 10:00.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.