Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for March 28, 2011 from Len Berman at ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* The Final Four match-ups in the NCAA basketball tournament are Butler vs. Virgina Commonwealth, and U-Conn vs Kentucky.
* Everyone loves a winner. 5,000 fans greeted VCU when they arrived home in Richmond. That's more people than they averaged at games this season.
* President Obama has no teams left in his NCAA bracket. Of the 5.9 million who entered the ESPN contest, only two people guessed all four Final Four teams correctly. I'm surprised it was that many.
* The baseball season begins this week. Thursday, March 31st, is opening day.
* According to London's Daily Express, Cameron Diaz has an idea for a romantic comedy involving baseball starring her boyfriend Alex Rodriguez. Don't forget to bring your popcorn.
2. Bracket Busting
With 24 hours of sports, zillions of games, lockouts, drugs and other sordid controversies, the sports world is one big haze. And then every so often, something comes along that clears the fog and reminds me of why I loved sports in the first place. Such a moment was VCU's win yesterday over Kansas. My memory bank took me back to 1985 for the last major upset that resonated with me. Villanova beating Georgetown in the championship game. You say VCU was a bigger underdog? Just barely. 10.5 points to 9.5. And Villanova had something VCU didn't. No shot clock. That was the last game played without one. So thank you VCU Rams. We had no idea you even existed in February, yet you'll still be standing in April. Now that's sports!
3. Consolation Prize
So how have your brackets gone so far? I thought you might like an update on my Top 5 NCAA contest. All you had to do was pick the winning team in the tournament. Of the hundreds and hundreds of entries, 6 picked Kentucky. 5 of you predicted U-Conn, and not a single entry had Butler or VCU. So, to give you a rooting interest, here's a Top 5 mini contest for the Final Four. Predict the winner of the championship game, and the school they will beat. And for the tiebreaker, the final score. (Yes, the 2011 men's tournament and Division I for all you nitpickers, and you know who you are.) Enter here.
4. Tiger Free Zone
In case you missed it, Martin Laird from Scotland won the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday. Tiger Woods finished 7 back tied for 24th place. I think we've seen the future. There is now a cosmic shift in the golf world. We'll actually get to watch and know some of the other pros on the tour. Perhaps the Boston Herald summed it up best after Saturday's round, even if it was a a bit ruthless. Under the headline, "Tiger Woods sinks deeper into irrelevance at Bay Hill," the article began, "Great news from Bay Hill: Tiger Woods is no longer holding the Arnold Palmer Invitational hostage. We are all free to see other people."
Whether or not we actually watch the others has golf tournaments and TV networks holding their breath.
Thanks to subscriber John Lee for alerting me to this. Nike put together a wonderful ad to salute England's Grand Slam triumph in rugby.
Very slick. One slight problem. After the commercial was made, England got trounced by Ireland, so their Grand Slam dreams went up in smoke. But unlike those "winning" Super Bowl shirts and hats that they produce for the losing team that wind up in third world countries, Nike's ad made it straight to the Internet. It spawned a whole series of send-ups like this one.
The Irish are taking great joy in tweaking the English and Nike who "just blew it." Ah the joys of social media.
Happy Birthday: The NBA logo himself, former Lakers star Jerry West. 73.
Bonus Birthday: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga to you. 25.
Today in Sports: Since T-I-T-A-N-S never caught on, Sonny Werblin changes the name of his AFL team to J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! 1963.
Bonus Event: Somebody had to be the first. Nathaniel Briggs from New Hampshire is granted a patent for the first washing machine. 1797.
Here's a great idea to get you in the mood for baseball season, my kids (of all ages) book The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.
Let the debates begin!
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