Sunday night saw the unveiling of yet another March Madness bracket, otherwise known as the schedule for the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. As I reviewed the match-ups, some interesting, and occasionally strange thoughts entered my mind.
Tulsa: A Presbyterian school is hosting the regional where the Methodists, Baptists and very possibly the Catholics will have teams in attendance. That's right, all eight teams are the guests of Tulsa, and among them are SMU and Baylor, with a chance for Providence if they get by USC in Dayton. I'll be at this regional and fully expect a multi-denominational church service to break out between games. Let's not forget that Oral Roberts University is also in the city, so even though they have no official role on the tournament, I'm sure they'll be there in spirit.
Orlando: The NCAA selection committee is either really lucky, or they're just looking for sold out venues. Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast will play at the home town of Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. For residents of the state that have tired of trips to Orlando, the presence of three of the five Florida teams in the tournament at a single venue should get them to make the drive up or down I-4. Compare that with Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Notre Dame having to shuffle off to Buffalo for their first round games.
Salt Lake City: In the SAT/ACT bracket, Northwestern makes its first NCAA tournament appearance against Vanderbilt. With the number of sports media members that are graduates of the Evanston, IL school, I'd expect there to be a large contingent of them in attendance. They'll either be there to cheer on their Wildcats, or if we can believe the reports of impending layoffs at ESPN, to hand out resumes.
Buffalo: Notre Dame and Villanova could be joined by a third Catholic school, Mount St. Mary's to make it an unfair fight against Princeton, founded by Presbyterians a few years before Dick Vitale began annoying college basketball fans. I'm surprised they didn't move this regional after Syracuse was shocked to be left out of the field with a stellar mark of 18 - 15, with only two of those wins coming away from their beloved Carrier Dome.
Greenville: When the NCAA decided to punish the State of North Carolina for their controversial LGBT law, they must have been left with a difficult task of finding another city that started with Green and an arena that could host basketball games. The State of Arkansas sent in a couple of candidates: Greenland and Green Forest. With a combined population of a little over 4,000, the reasoning was that there would plenty of room for the fans. But ultimately, in what I understand was a tight vote, the committee decided on the South Carolina town a couple hours from Greensboro. Unfortunately, North Carolinians attempting to make the trip will be stopped at the border and sent north. Hey, I don't make the rules. I'm just the messenger.
Indianapolis: In a rare move, all residents of the city will exchange places with those living in Lexington and Louisville for the weekend. That way all of those University of Kentucky and University of Louisville fans will have a place to stay, and the Indiana fans won't have to drive around trying to figure out where the Hoosiers aren't playing. In an unprecedented show of flexibility, the NCAA has also included Cincinnati as an alternative destination, as there will probably be some Northern Kentucky University fans making the trip, as long as they can edge their gold and black vehicles into the long line of blue and red heading to Indiana.
Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg,
where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and
philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/
listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike
Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes
and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their
glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.