From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Kentucky forward Anthony Davis (23) is fouled by Iowa State guard Tyrus McGee (25) in the second half of their NCAA third-round tournament college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, March 17, 2012. Kentucky beat Iowa State 87-71. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It started as March monotony and it became true Madness some time Friday evening when two No. 15 seeds toppled mighty Missouri and Duke (we had Missouri in the Final Four; we had Duke pegged right since January).
And it did not slow down We'll breakdown the matchups and the teams in the Sweet 16 later this week, but today let's just enjoy the the highlights:
— Want to know why this tournament has a special place? OK, besides the bracket sheets, do you want to know why this tournament has a special place in our culture? Did you see the postgame interviews after St. Louis cam up four points short against Michigan State? The emotions from Rick Majerus to Brian Conklin — the visible reactions to dreams dashed and heartbreak and the realization that seniors that have meant so much will never put the uniform on again — were raw and real and true. And the shock and awe shucks celebration of Norfolk State was pure. We've said this for more than a decade, but forget Survivor and American Idol — sporting events are the first reality TV, and the NCAA tournament offers it up shotgun style, wall-to-wall with the highest stakes for one four-day weekend in March. Madness you say. We prefer Magical.
— So much for the demise of Syracuse, huh?
— Huge loss for UNC with Kendall Marshall fracturing a bone in his right wrist. Yes, Marshall is left-handed, but that's still a tough blow. Here's our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view on it http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/19/wiedmer-ncaa-tournament-word-day-scaphoid/. (By the way, Weeds has done work on the NCAA tournament over the first four days. Well-played indeed.)
— Wow, raise your hand if you overvalued SEC tournament champ Vandy or ACC tournament champ FSU. Yeah, we did too.
— Ok, another one: Raise your hand if your family submitted multiple sheets into a bracket contest. Now keep them up there if your 4-year-old is beating your brains in. Yeah, us too.
— Overrated/Underrated contest update: Here are the folks with a chance to win the contest, and with three double-digit seeds moving to the Sweet 16, there are 11 entries with both teams still alive (If UK is the first No. 1 seed bounced, Redlegs is assured of a tie).
chas9 — Syracuse/NC State
BiSpy — Michigan St/Xavier
Pridemo — Syracuse/Ohio
BigBlue — Syracuse/Ohio
Follower — Syracuse/NC State
StuckinKent — Syracuse/NCSU
McPell — Syracuse/NCSU
wcole777 — Syracuse/NCSU
Ware — Michigan State/NC State
5-at-10 — Syracuse/Xavier
ThatIDoKnow — Michigan State/NC State
Redlegs11 — Kentucky/Long Beach State.
Contest update: OK, to serve as the tie-breaker and as another contest, we present the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout contest. Rules are simple: Pick two players and the duo that combines to score the most points in the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight wins. Since both games count and it is a combined total, players from winning teams obviously have an advantage. If you have any questions let us know, and remember this contest is open to everyone, not just the 12 above (even if we use it as the tie breaker for the game above).
Fans hold signs encouraging free agent Peyton Manning to sign with the Tennessee Titans NFL football outside the Titans' training facility as Manning meets with team officials inside on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
As the quarterback turns.
Let's go to Brian Fontana, live on site with a live report from "Peyton Watch — Day 12."
Seriously, the entire NFL — and everyone from in Tennessee the state legislature to Shoney's GMs to Dolly — is waiting on four-time MVP Peyton Manning to make his decision about his future professional home.
Here's the case for each of the three finalists/and why each would be overjoyed to land Manning:
Tennessee — Everyone knows how much Manning is loved in the state where he went to college, and Titans' owner Bud Adams has pledged to give Manning a job for life with the organization. (Side note: That was the P.R. equivalent of inventing the TV remote control — which is on our top-five list of inventions, by the way. Manning already had a job for life, be it as a coach, executive or TV commentator. Do you think Manning would have any trouble finding a gig if he couldn't take another snap? Of course not, but Adams got that out there first and gets credit being the one that put the chicken liver on his catfish hook first. Second side note: This will be the next step in high-profile free agent negotiation, by the way. What was the no-trade clause of the 1990s will be the job of life for the 2010s.) The Titan would sell-out their home games in less than three hours if Manning signs and the No. 18 Titans jersey will zoom to the top of the products-sold list.
San Fran — The most ready to win a title. If it's a football decision, it's hard not seeing the 49ers as the front-runners. After signing receivers Randy Moss and Marion Manningham, if the Manning comes aboard, San Fran becomes the Super Bowl favorite. Period.
Denver — The Broncos have John Elway and he has obviously found something that has piqued Peyton's interest. Manning allows the Broncos an easy out of the Tim Tebow situation.
Plus, once Manning signs, the rest of quarterback shuffles can start — Manning will pick Tennessee, Denver or San Fran, which means at least one of Matt Hasselbeck, Tim Tebow or Alex Smith will be on the move.
(Side note: We expect something to be known today for what it's worth, but Manning has played this as deliberate as any presnap read and audible. So who knows, right?)
Drivers, from left, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnahdrt Jr, Landon Cassill and Joey Logano wait for Brad Keselowski, right, as they walk down the track toward the fire that caused a red-flag delay in the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Friel)
NASCAR no shows
Bad Brad Keselowski — NASCAR's resident social media expert — won again at Bristol, matching his August win there and becoming the current chairman of one of NASCAR's historic venues. Too bad there was hardly anyone there to see it.
Keselowski will forever be known as the man who tweeted photos from the track when the race was stopped at Daytona last month and who became a NASCAR pioneer by tweeting photos from Victory Lane Sunday at Bristol. (Somewhere Dale Earnhardt just punched an angel, had to say 10 Hail Marys and will have to drive St. Peter around for the next week as punishment.)
But Keselowski now must be taken seriously as a title contender and surely ranks among the favorites in the short-track races, especially at Bristol.
That said, when he crossed the finish line Sunday, the stands appeared barely half full, and this is Bristol, what used to be the toughest ticket in NASCAR and one of the 10 toughest tickets in sports.
NASCAR needs to be very careful on a couple of fronts moving forward. Last the year was special with the new rules and the to-the-finish drama that crowned the season champ. But that was last year. Half-full at Bristol should be a clear warning bell that NASCAR better find a way to keep the interest going.
Here's a start — NASCAR needs a heavyweight. Don't misread that as far as talent. The talent has never been better 1-through-43 than it is right now. There are 20 guys that can win on any weekend. No NASCAR needs a guy that everyone has an opinion of who is in contention almost every week. Let's call him Racer X, and whether you're pulling for Dale Jr. or Jeff Gordon or Bill Elliott, if you guy is not in the mix, then you can root for someone to crash Racer X. NASCAR needs the Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees. (And yes, those don't come around very often, but NASCAR is facing dire straits if it doesn't find him soon.)
Denver Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari reacts to making a 3-point shot in the closing seconds to give the Nuggets a lead over the Atlanta Hawks in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Denver won 118-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
This and that
— As good a pass as you'll see from Danilo Gallinari is here.
— Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche — far and away the top high school football prospect in the country for the 2013 class — announced he'll announce his decision on May 18. Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-5, 270 pound stud from Loganvill,e Ga., who is so athletic he led his team in rushing in the Class AAAAA state title game, reportedly is picking between LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Clemson and Georgia.
— Enjoyable NBA game last night as the Heat outlasted the Magic because Dwyane Wade's strong fourth quarter. Something tells us the NBA playoffs are going to be fun this spring.
— UT gets back in NIT action tonight against MTSU. Should be an interesting match-up and will certainly test Chas9's Top Tenn ranking.
— We all thought that this spring was going to be the induction process of shortstop Tyler Pastornicky into the Braves' starting lineup. Well, someone forgot to tell hot-shot youngster Andrelton Simmons. Simmons has been as good as advertised defensively — and that was some pretty high praise — and has been better at the plate than Pastornicky. Granted, this is spring training and numbers in March are like college football stats from the spring game — meaningless. But if the offense from each is unknown, and Simmons is a far superior defensive player — and it's not really that close, especially considering that soon-to-be-a-man-he's-40 Chipper Jones at third — then this appears to be more of a battle than originally believed. (Plus, it's been far too long since the Braves had a high-profile name like 'Andrelton' in the lineup. That brings back the glory days of Claudell Washington or Roland Office.)
No messing around today. No "Hoosiers" quotes or top five moments from 1980s sitcoms (and if you think we're not ready to trot that out, well, then this obviously your first time around these parts, and feel free to come back anytime).
Nope today is simple and direct — where is Peyton headed and why?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...