The Pulse: NCAA Tournament continues!

Updated: March 20, 2006, 4:22 PM ET
Friday, March 17

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.

Friday's Big Questions

1. Is your NCAA Tournament bracket busted?
2. With Team USA out, has your WBC interest declined?
3. Has Roger Clemens pitched his last game?

 Charles Lee
Charles Lee led Bucknell to a victory.
Even with all the NCAA Tournament excitement on Thursday including three No. 12 seeds winning, something was missing. Where was that last-second buzzerbeater to knock out a Top 3 seed? On Friday, we got it! Northwestern State's Jermaine Wallace heaved up a 3-pointer with .05 seconds left to lift the No. 13 seed Demons over No. 3 seed Iowa. That's what March Madness is all about!

Only 7 percent of SportsNation picked Northwestern St. to advance in the Tournament Challenge National Bracket and an almost equal percentage say their bracket was busted after day one. No one said this was going to be easy.

Somewhat overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament drama was Team USA's exit from the World Baseball Classic on Thursday night. Even with Roger Clemens on the mound, the U.S. couldn't outscore Mexico, losing 2-1. That leaves Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan and Korea to fight for the inaugural WBC championship. Could it have been the last time we will see Clemens on the mound in a game that matters? Over one-third of SportsNation says yes.

  • 67% Fans whose NCAA brackets are still ''respectable''.
  • 19% Fans whose NCAA brackets are on ''life support''.
  • 8% Fans who claim to have a ''perfect'' bracket.
  • 6% Fans with busted brackets.

  • 63% Roger Clemens has pitched his last game in the majors.
  • 63% Dominican Republic the favorite of remaining four to win WBC.
  • 49% Very interested in WBC finals, even with Team USA out.
  • 40% Team USA's WBC loss is worse than Olympic basketball loss.

    If you want to really know what the Pulse of the sports world looked like on Friday afternoon, check out how SportsNation was reacting to the final seconds of the Bucknell-Arkansas and Northwestern State-Iowa games. The following is an excerpt from The Show, a live chat with fans from across the world:

    Nick (Lincoln): And Iowa's lead trimmed to 3!

    Matt (Fairfax): Let me get this straight . . . these 2 and 3 seeds can barely put away these 15s and 14s . . . yet an 8 seed is beating a 9 seed by 20?

    Buzzmaster: Iowa only up 1 with under a minute!

    Ted (London, UK): How many of you had AZ by 20 in your bracket?

    Buzzmaster: *crickets chirping*

    Weston (Columbus): Wow, did you see that free throw! Something pushed that in!

    Buzzmaster: Arkansas down 2 with 1:42 left!

    Buzzmaster: We've had some clutch free throw shooting today.

    Buzzmaster: Wow ... a collision in the Bucknell-Arkansas game ... that looked ugly ... Hill took a spill but he doesn't look too bad ... took a faceplant on the floor.

    Brian (Tampa): Am I the only one standing up and typing at the same time? I can't sit!

    Buzzmaster: Arkansas ties it up! 1:15 left!

    Buzzmaster: Bucknell beat the press for an easy hoop! Up 2 with :50 left!

     Northwestern State
    NW State is making just their second NCAA Tournament appearance.
    Gene (Cincinnati): Doen't everyone have their secretary typing???

    Buzzmaster: NW State looking to tie!

    Buzzmaster: Oooooooooooooh my! NW State with the miracle 3! Winnerrrrrrrrrrrr! Game over!

    Weston (Columbus): Wow, what a three, goodbye Iowa.

    Chris (Orlando): Iowa lost lol!!!!!!!!

    Khuong (Baltimore): OMG!!!! THAT WAS CRAZY!

    Dieter (Gig Harbor, WA): No way!!! Nooooooooo

    Russell (Clemson): they won it omg that was the shot of the first round

    Gene (Cincinnati): Unreal. What a finish.

    Christine (Fresno): I yelled out loud and people came over to my office to find out what was wrong!

    Phil (Cleveland): WOW, and I was just kidding when I picked NW St in my bracket!

    Brian (Tampa): Clifton Lee for president. Unreal what I'm seeing.

    Buzzmaster: We've got another ending coming! Bucknell missed the front end of a one-on-one but they got the rebound! And they just missed another one! Oh my! Another!

    Gene (Cincinnati): Bucknell having trouble at the line.

     Bucknell
    Arkansas left it all on the floor but it wasn't enough.
    Phil (Athens): Bucknell trying to lose this game.

    Buzzmaster: Back at the line again .. and finally a make!

    Kess (Birmingham, AL): Wow. Can anyone clear the glass?

    Jon (Chapel Hill): Talk about a scramble for a loose ball!

    Buzzmaster: Bucknell going back to the line for one more shot .. a make and it's probably over ... a miss and we're going to have a buzzerbeater 3-pointer to try for the tie!

    Phil (Spain): I love college basketball.

    Matt (Fairfax): Come on Bucknell! I can't go 1-for-4 today.

    Brandon (Idaho): And just when I thought my bracket couldn't be anymore busted in the first round.

    Buzzmaster: Game Over! ... Bucknell wins 59-55!

    Thursday's Big Questions

    1. Did you skip work to watch the NCAA Tournament?
    2. Is there anything better than a first-round upset?

     Wichita State
    Wichita State did the MVC proud.
    Thursday, or First Thursday as it is affectionatly called by hoops fans, marked the start of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. A total of 16 first-round games were on the docket which is a pretty good recipe for drama. Some unexpected drama happened in San Diego as the start of the Marquette-Alabama game was delayed after a bomb-sniffing dog found a suspicious package. It was a false alarm and the game went on with No. 10 seed Alabama pulling the upset.

    With the games tipping off at 12:20 ET, we were curious to know what percentage of SportsNation suddenly developed a mysterious cough and had to play hooky from work or school. Turns out nearly half of you did exactly that. In fact, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Vermont all called in sick today!

    We also found out that the first day of the NCAA Tournament is more exciting than the first day of your vacation, the day you get your tax refund or any day you get presents! That's saying something!

  • 47% Played hooky from work or school to watch the NCAA Tournament.
  • 33% First day of vacation is more exciting than start of Tournament.
  • 18% Getting presents is better than start of Tournament.
  • 14% Cashing in tax refund is more fulfilling than first Thursday of NCAAs.

    But to really experience what the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament is like, just take a look at an excerpt from a live chat that took place during the first-round matchup between No. 4 seed Boston College and No. 13 seed Pacific:

    Buzzmaster: But a BC dunk makes it 61-57 Eagles with 2:06 to go!

    J (Detroit): Craig Smith should get more credit for what he means to this BC team.

    Dicky V (SofaVille US.): This Is great Holy Cow! You dream about this kind of excitement.I'm gonna lose my mind. NCAA tourney time baby!

    Buzzmaster: Pacific's Maraker fouled on a 3-pointer with his team down four. Makes all three, it's a one-point game with 40 seconds to go!

    Dieter (Gig Harbor, WA): Pacific down by only one!!!!!!

    Buzzmaster: Back to a three-point bulge for BC...

     Craig Smith
    Craig Smith's free throws helped seal the deal for BC.
    Buzzmaster: Make it one after a layup...20 seconds to go and BC on the line and up one...

    Buzzmaster: Maraker with the 3!!!!! Pacific ties it up with under 10 seconds to go!!!

    Jack (Wisconsin): This is why we watch!

    A-Man (CA): MARAKER!!!

    Buzzmaster: BC with the ball and 9.1 seconds to get the game-winner . . .

    Greg (Boston): BC is my champion, I really hope they make it out of the first round.

    Todd (Birmingham, AL): All of my brackets are about to get blown to bits.

    Buzzmaster: Traveling on BC. Pacific with a chance to win it!!

    Ed (Raleigh): I'm an ACC guy, but I'm feeling Pacific now!

    Buzzmaster: Man, Pacific loses the ball and we go to overtime! Nothing like starting the day with some excitement!

    Buzzmaster: Wait, they're putting 0.2 seconds back on the clock because BC called timeout.

    Buzzmaster: And we're still headed to OT... yes, overtime!

    The game would go into double overtime before Boston College pulled away for a 88-76 win. Just one of many nailbiters on Thursday. And just think, we get to to it all over again tomorrow!

    Wednesday's Big Questions

    1. What do QB moves mean for Matt Leinart and Vince Young?
    2. Where will Terrell Owens land?
    3. Would you rather have T.O. or Keyshawn Johnson on your team?
    4. Is Larry Brown or Stephon Marbury more to blame in New York?

     Terrell Owens
    Will T.O. be serving up touchdowns in Dallas next season?
    With quarterbacks stealing the NFL free agent headlines on Tuesday thanks to Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper and Jon Kitna all finding new homes, SportsNation was left wondering what it all means for NFL draft prospects Matt Leinart and Vince Young. With most of the big-name quarterbacks in place, the 'Nation also turned its attention to the next most popular position - wide receiver. Will Terrell Owens find a home? What about recent Dallas Cowboys cut, Keyshawn Johnson?

    As offended as SportsNation has been by the antics of Owens in the past, a majority admitted they would prefer to see Owens sign with their favorite team over Johnson. As for the future of Matt Leinart and Vince Young, fans turned to Scouts, Inc. expert Gary Horton who received a record number of questions in his Wednesday morning chat, over four times as many as the NCAA Tournament chat. March Madness? What about NFL Madness!

    Another story that peaked everyone's interest on Wednesday was a report out of New York Knicks practice that coach Larry Brown and star point goard Stephon Marbury engaged in a war of words that had newspaper reporters salivating as they caught every single word. See NBA Insider Chris Sheridan's blog for all the juicy quotes. According to SportsNation, Marbury should keep his mouth shut because he's part of the reason why the Knicks are on pace to have their worst season in franchise history.

    Matt (Laguna Beach, CA): What does this all mean for Vince Young, does he have an Aaron Rodgers type drop ahead of him?

    Scouts, Inc.'s Gary Horton: I don't think he has an Aaron Rodgers type drop. But it makes him more vulnerable. We always assumed Leinart and Young would go 2-3, either or. Now I think Young is the guy that doesn't really have a home. But I think he is so talented and we are so far out from the draft, that if he does all the things necessary, teams will trade up and maneuver themselves to draft him if he starts to drop. He will NOT be in an Aaron Rodgers situation.

    I think four teams were estatic based on what happened yesterday. Minnesota got rid of Culpepper which was a huge deal for them, Miami got a QB that can compete with New England, New Orleans got a QB that can be the face of the franchise and the No. 2 spot in this draft becomes really hot now. The Titans are my fourth team because they are looking at Matt Leinart reuniting with Norm Chow who coaches him in college. Tennessee has done a nice job already this offseason improving this team. If I'm a Titans fan, what happened yesterday really excites me because it increases the chances of getting Leinart.

  • Click here for Horton's complete chat transcript

  • 54% Terrell Owens will join Bill Parcells in Dallas next season as a Cowboy.
  • 23% Terrell Owens will be wearing a Denver Broncos jersey next season.
  • 15% Nobody will sign Terrell Owens next season.
  • 8% Terrell Owens will head to the Midwest and play for the Chiefs next season.

  • 71% Would rather have Terrell Owens than Keyshawn Johnson next season.

  • 75% Stephon Marbury is more to blame for the Knicks' struggles than Larry Brown.

    Stud: Cowboys for releasing Keyshawn Johnson. Dud: Cowboys for releasing Keyshawn Johnson to make room for Terrell Owens.
    Jarred (Oklahoma)

    Jon Kitna got a $4 million signing bonus. Now, he is a great person and we loved him here in Cincy, but is this a sign of the apocolypse?
    Matt (Cincy)

    What should I be more excited about, the Saints getting Bayou Brees or the possibility of using the second pick to fill more than one need area?
    Greg (Baton Rouge)

     Vince Young
    Vince Young can cross New Orleans off his list of potential homes.
    See ya T.O.!!! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!!! Second thought, let it.
    Keith (PA)

    $60 million??? That is outrageous! It's not like that team was one piece of the puzzle away from competing.
    Reggie (Orlando)

    My take is that Brees single-handedly stopped Leinart's career from being non-existant in New Orleans. Good luck Drew, may you make the headlines.
    Jerry (Tallahassee)

    The Jets are now licking their chops because they could possibly end up with the best QB in the draft in Jay Cutler.
    Nick (St. Johns Campus (Jamaica, NY))

    I've been praying periodically in the Morning Quickie chat for T.O. not to go to my Cowboys. Now that it looks like a probability with Keyshawn getting cut, I'll begin beating my head against my desk.
    Steve (Austin)

    Wake me when the World Cup starts.
    Curtis (Indy)

    The Saints want to win now and didn't want to wait for Matt Leinart to develop into an NFL QB. They have some pieces in place already, so they're in better shape now than with Aaron Brooks or Leinart.
    Jon (Malvern)

    If your name was Leinart, Young, or Cutler, yesterday was not a good day.
    Dan (C-bus)

    Tuesday's Big Questions

    1. Does Daunte Culpepper make the Dolphins a playoff team?
    2. Will Jon Kitna win starting QB job over Joey Harrington?
    3. Was Drew Brees the best free agent QB pickup?

     Daunte Culpepper
    Daunte Culpepper can now trade in the purple helmet and head south.
    Daunte Culpepper wanted out of Minnesota and the Vikings finally obliged on Tuesday, sending their disgruntled quarterback to Miami in exchange for a second-round pick. What does that mean for the Dolphins? Apparently a lot. Nick Saban's team finished just out of the playoffs last season but 57 percent of SportsNation thinks Culpepper will guide Miami to the playoffs this year. But is just getting there enough? Don't forget that just last week 80 percent of the 'Nation said Culpepper will never lead a team to a Super Bowl.

    The other big-name quarterback on the market also found a new team when Drew Brees landed in New Orleans following the Culpepper trade. And in news sure to make Joey Harrington a little nervous, Jon Kitna bolted Cincinnati to sign with Detroit and likely challenge for the job. In fact, 60 percent of SportsNation likes Kitna to be the Lions' starting quarterback in Week 1.

    So which of the three signal-callers will be most successful with his new team? Culpepper is the favorite at 60 percent and just 28 percent think Brees will be the best signing of the three, but that likely speaks as much to the talent around those guys as their own contributions. What about the rest of the guys out there, you ask?

    Well, in a poll that included the biggest non-QBs to sign so far, Antwaan Randle El looks to be in the best shape as 49 percent of SN thinks he has the best chance to make the Super Bowl with his new team, the Redskins. Many think Washington owner Dan Snyder is overpaying for free agents, but at least he's trying to make the team better.

  • 57% Daunte Culpepper will lead the Dolphins to the playoffs next season.
  • 61% Jon Kitna will be starting over Joey Harrington for the Lions in Week 1.
  • 28% Drew Brees will have more success than Daunte Culpepper next season.
  • 49% A. Randle El best chance of non-QB free agents to make the Super Bowl.

    Looks like the Redskins aren't really looking forward to the draft. My pick for the Super Bowl already.
    Steve (DC)

    Dear Dan Snyder, overpaying players doesn't work, trust me. That kind of money for a receiver with 35 catches and one touchdown last year? Have you lost it? -- Signed, George Steinbrenner.
    Ted (Pittsburgh)

    What has warranted people getting excited about Snyder's moves? He has done this before with no results.
    Hende (OH)

    Daunte Culpepper, way to fire his agent and represent himself. He saves that commission and now has some serious cash to spend on a "dinner cruise" on Biscayne Bay in Miami. Talk about a party cruise.
    Joe (Indy, IN)

    Should I put up the 'Missing' posters now for Edgerrin James? Arizona? Talk about an NFL wasteland. NO ONE watches that team. But a great pickup for the Cardinals.
    Jonathan (Buffalo)

    Edgerrin James is a stud. The Cardinals handled the first few days of free agency well, getting one of the best backs in the game. I see Edgerrin having a great year in Arizona along with Larry Fitzgerald. And Josh McCown is an up-and-coming quarterback. The Cardinals will prevail.
    Gaylan (Kansas)

    Jamal Lewis resigns with Baltimore? Why? the Ravens already signed Mike Anderson.
    Mike (NJ)

    Matt Leinart should thank Drew Brees now that Leinart won't be going to the Saints anymore.
    Eric (San Diego)

    Any Detroit Lions fans left on this planet? Another wide receiver? And they bring in Jon Kitna? I didn't think it could get any worse for Lions fans.
    R.Keane (Old Southington,CT)

    Detroit needs a lot more than Kitna.
    Nick T. (Detroit, MI)

    The Browns have their Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli in Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage and are executing what looks like a perfect plan. Not chasing names or specific talents, but football players.
    Dan (C-bus)


    Monday's Big Question

    What do you make of the NCAA Tournament bracket?

     Rudy Gay
    Rudy Gay and UConn are SportsNation's top overall team as well.
    The NCAA Tournament bracket has been filled out and the dust has settled after the verbal lashing Jim Nantz and Billy Packer laid on the selection committee, so it's time to get SportsNation's thoughts on how things played out and which team will cut down the nets in Indianapolis.

    Starting at the top, the 'Nation says Connecticut is the best of the No. 1 seeds and Memphis the weakest, while Texas is the favorite among the No. 2 seeds. Atlanta gets SportsNation's nod as the toughest of the four regions yet 67 percent still think No. 1 seed Duke will come of of that bracket and play in the Final Four. UConn gets 77 percent of the vote as the Final Four team in the Washington, D.C. region. Remaining No. 1s Villanova and Memphis are getting little love, though, and it's clear SportsNation thinks a No. 2 seed is way too high for Tennessee.

    What about the little guys, you ask? Well, SN likes Texas A&M to pull of this year's obligatory 12-5 upset against Syracuse, Air Force is by far the team generating the most surprise with its presence in the field and 44 percent of SportsNation thinks Cincinnati got the biggest snub from the committee.

    And it seems the NCAA Tournament -- more specifically, the desire to win the office pool -- is one of the few things that overrides fan loyalty. Just over 53 percent of the 'Nation would pick against their alma mater in the first round of the tournament in an effort to have the best bracket in their pool.

  • 57% Connecticut is the No. 1 seed most likely to win it all.
  • 59% Memphis will be the first No. 1 seed eliminated.
  • 35% Atlanta is the toughest of the four regions.
  • 48% Texas is the No. 2 seed most likely to win it all.
  • 4% Tennessee is the No. 2 seed most likely to win it all.

  • 77% Connecticut will be in the Final Four.
  • 63% Duke will be in the Final Four
  • 36% Villanova will be in the Final Four.
  • 15% Memphis will be in the Final Four

  • 41% (12) Texas A&M will upset (5)Syracuse
  • 62% Air Force is the most surprising team in the field.
  • 48% Cincinnati is the non-tournament team most deserving of a spot in the bracket.
  • 53% Would pick against their alma mater in the first round
    Click here to vote on the overall tournament field and each of the four regions

    What a weekend! From Air Force making the dance to Alan Ray almost losing an eye to Edge landing in Arizona and A-Rod being a hero. The Madness has begun.
    Jon (Malvern)

    For some reason I am starting to feel a tad under the weather. I think if I don't improve by Thursday I might have to take Thursday & Friday off.
    Phil (Cleveland)

    I want to be the first (and probably only) to predict that this year's victim of the 5-12 upset will be ... SYRACUSE!
    Christian (High Point, NC)

    I'm right with you Christian. Syracuse is looking to me like this year's Florida. (As long as Florida doesn't take on the role again.)
    Troy (Gainesville, FL)

    I am saying NO 12 over 5 upsets this year!
    Jake (Va. Beach)

    Does anyone else think Pittsburgh was served an injustice with a No. 5 seed despite reaching the Big East championship game (against Syracuse)? I mean, the Big East is the best conference in college basketball, surely a team who gets to the championship deserves better than a fifth seed.
    Tim (Pittsburgh)

    Hey, Tim, how 'bout Boston College as a No. 4 in Utah. They beat UNC twice, have a better record and for their trouble they get a seed lower than UNC's and are sent 3000 miles away.
    Greg (Boston)

    The biggest gripe is George Washington. A No. 8 seed against a team that plays three hours away?
    Christian (High Point, NC)

    How is Tennessee deserving of a No. 2 seed? They were not the SEC regular season champs and they did not win the tournament. I know they got the best of Florida but they lost to LSU, the regular season champs.
    Ben (Annapolis, MD)

    I think there's too much mid-major influence in the selection committee.
    Mat (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Do gut feelings count? I really like UW-Milwaukee to not only beat Oklahoma..but to get to the Sweet 16.
    Rafael (Blacksburg)

    Winthrop over Tennessee. The Vols have to be the worst team to ever get a No. 2 seed, and I think this will be the first of many game that shows how poorly the tournament committee did its job. I would not be surprised if there were seven or eight big upsets in the first round.
    Craig (Boston)

    About UW-Milwaukee, I really believe Bruce Pearl was the secret there last year, which makes me more likely to pick them to lose and Tennessee to win.
    Troy (Gainesville, FL)


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