By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
The first day of the first round of the NCAA Tournament brought great excitement into living rooms, sports bars and office cubicles everywhere.
We probably say it more than we remember, but I can't recall the opening day of America's greatest sporting event being as excellent as Thursday was. Here's what we'll take away from it:
+ WHY TOP SEEDS WILL WIN: Kentucky | Kansas | Syracuse | Duke
+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ MYTH MADNESS: 3 Tournament Trends To Ignore This Year
+ FREE ADVICE: Here's How To Win Your NCAA Office Pool
+ QUOTEBOOK: Selection Chairman Dan Guerrero Explains Himself
+ NCAA TOURNAMENT: First-Round Pairings Announced
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball
+ Georgetown, a popular No. 3 seed in the Midwest, didn't deserve the pre-tournament hype it got. I had a funny feeling about the Hoyas all year, remember? Sure they put together a nice run in New York last week, but let's remember, they took 10 losses into the tournament. A 14th-seeded Ohio University team from the Mid-American Conference hangs nearly a hundy on a rough and rowdy Big East side? Ouch. Gary Trent and Chad Estis are high-fiving somewhere.
>+ Mid-majors are back in style this spring. In addition to those OU Bobcats, Murray State (a 13 seed from the Ohio Valley Conference) beat No. 4 Vanderbilt (nice effort, SEC East) at the buzzer, and Old Dominion (11, Colonial) sent No. 6 Notre Dame packing. BYU (7, Mountain West) needed double overtime to oust Florida and Robert Morris (14, Northeast) should have beaten an abysmal Villanova team before falling in overtime.
>+ Just last week, I got some heat for offering up a not-so-fast reaction to Sean McDonough's claim during the broadcast of the Big East Tournament that the league is "clearly the best in the country." My take was that there might be some Big 12 folks who'd be happy to share a contrarian view. Thursday gave us three wins in four tries for the Big 12 and only one win in four tries for the Big East. And those three Big 12 wins were by an average of 15 points.
+ That one guy from BYU is as good as those two writers said he was back in mid-season. Good to see one of the nation's finest scorers get some national attention.
+ Good for Washington giving the PAC 10 -- pretty much a mid-major this year -- some much-needed street cred by beating a solid Marquette squad. I can't remember if it was CBS analyst Seth Davis or ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, but somebody said yesterday the winner of this game would advance to the Elite Eight. I'm a big fan of Lorenzo Romar, and I hope he and his Huskies do make a nice run.
+ One other thing we learned Thursday was that ESPN's "Sports Nation" program has heard of One Great Season. The popular show tipped its hat to OGS in its "Site We Like" segment yesterday. The darling Michelle Beadle described OGS by referencing a story I wrote this week, saying, "They give us a great rundown of the seven key ingredients every national champion needs to have." Her co-host, Colin Cowherd, followed up with nothing short of authentic sincerity by calling the site "a must read." Thanks, gang! I'm still waiting to find out of this quailfies me for drinks with Beadle. I'll keep you posted.