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Mar. 22—Weekend winners
Rusty Wright and the UTC football bunch. The Mocs continue to roll. Here's more from Gene of Many Hats Henley, the TFP UTC ace. A tight win over fiesta Furman keeps UTC unbeaten in spring games against everyone other than UTC in its history. The Mocs are 3-1 and 3-0 in the league and will likely improve from last week's No. 11 national ranking. And they do this with a home game on the horizon that could welcome as many as 5,000 fans. With that capacity, this could be the Mocs first sell-out in ages.
Vegas (and the house everywhere). The sports books and betting services across this country simply had to clean up this weekend in March Madness. Had to. The underdogs went 28-15 over the first three days of the dance including a torrid 6-2 mark Sunday.
LeBarn James, and everything associated with the Amish hoopster who has taken Twitter by storm. And there are a minute few nicknames better than LaBarn James friends.
Tennessee football. Hey, not a lot good has happened, so every inkling of positivity should be celebrated. But if there's even a small percentage of a chance that Henry To'oto'o returns to K-town — something that is being whispered on social media — well, that would be aces. Plus, no one got arrested this week — that we know of — so there's that.
The Letter kid that no-hit South Carolina. Man, Vandy has a baseball machine up and running in Nashville right now.
The Pac-12. Somewhere Bill Walton is smiling. (Well, there's likely a HIGH probability of Walton smiling most of the time anyway.)
CBS and the NCAA partners. Hey, I have no idea how many folks picked brackets by comparison and I think the never-ending cavalcade of first-weekend upsets may hold up in the ratings. But who has a vested interest in their brackets now after that carnage and it's hard to see any of next Saturday's match-ups as a national draw. Which of the following of Oregon State-Loyola, Villanova-Baylor, Oral Roberts-Arkansas and Syracuse-Houston has a national name or peg?
Shaka Smart. He was far from the only big-name coach in a big-name conference who got worked this weekend, but his was the most glaring. Terrible sets and execution. And there's simply no way Texas should lose to Abilene Christian. None.
JB Holmes. Dude was a great story heading into the weekend. He had been off the PGA grid for a while. He was in the final group after a strong third round and just three shots off the lead. Hey, a win would have been a long shot, but wow, you want to discuss an expensive round of golf? If Holmes shoots even par Sunday he would not have challenged eventual winner Matt Jones, who finished at 12 under. But that even-par 72 would have left him at 7 under and tied for second, which would have paid $623,000. Well, his 9-over 81 dropped Holmes to a tie for 46th and came with a check for $19,070. That's a pricey nine swings, no?
LeBron James. High ankle sprains are a tricky lot. He could easily miss multiple weeks with that kind of injury, and in a uber-loaded West, seeding matters, especially with the almost certain likelihood of the playoffs returning to home venues. And the Lakers roster sans AD and King James, well, I played on summer league teams in Atlanta with more firepower.
Kylie Jenner. The youngest of the famed Kardashian beauty clan, made what I'm sure she thought was a nice gesture. Her make-up artist had a car wreck and Kylie started a GoFundMe page and asked fans to contribute to cover his medical bills. Uh, Kylie, aren't you like the youngest female billionaire on the planet? Write a check sweetie. (OK, research alert, Kylie Jenner is not that wealthy after all. Forbes in 2020 reported she is only — ONLY — worth $900 million.) To be fair, Kylie did pony up $5K to start the fund. But perspective if important, since a) Kylie bought her toddler a $15,000 purse and b) if you had, say, $100,000 net worth, Kylie's $5K would, by comparison, be like you giving 56 cents to the cause. Not a good look.
Olympic athletes. Yes, there is so much heartbreak for so many in all directions when it comes to COVID. Add this one to the list, and it makes the score COVID 12,041, Everyday life negative-3. The Japan organizers of the upcoming Olympics have ruled that no fans from foreign countries can attend the games. Everyone can understand the decision and the rationale behind it. Still for the families of these athletes who have sacrificed so much to not be able to attend their dreams coming true of participating in the Olympics. Damn you COVID.
We certainly could have offered the NCAA seeding folks as losing the weekend. The only sure-fire way to have this many upsets is to have the seeds be this poorly done.
The committee has some real 'splainin' to do. Loyola was ranked during the season. That's an 8-seed in number only. Same with the way LSU is playing.
As always, you know the rules, here's Weeds on the Sister Jeans from Chicago and the craziness that happened in the first three days. I'm here for Weeds on college hoops. Today. Next Wednesday. The Thursday after that. Man, he's good at what he does.
That said, as fun as the upsets are in the moment, as we mentioned above, the draw for next weekend looks more like an ESPN2 schedule for a Saturday in February than it does for the second week of the Dance.
It also leads me to something I put on Twitter and a very plausible realization:
Is the office pool dead? Is it destined to go the way of the neighborhood football picks sheet or the local parlay card?
I did not fill out a bracket this year. It's the first time in more than three decades that I have not been scouring my sheet with a highlighter and bemoaning my lack of clarity on the Christians from Abilene or shouting my shortcomings about Oral Roberts. (Side note: Add in Sister Jean, and the year 2021 of our Lord certainly looks like its favoring hoops teams from schools dedicated to our Lord. What the hell, BYU?)
And you know what, I didn't miss it. Not a single bit.
No, this is not to say that gambling is going anywhere. In fact, just the opposite. (Side note: While we are here, the big gambling story from the weekend locally was the state of Tennessee suspending the license of the Action247 folks. Their allegations of money laundering, among others.)
But the office pool was not about the gambling as much as the camaraderie and the connection. We all needed to see if Susan in Lifestyle would have the first-round lead because she always backed Duke.
Now, heck, the lack of office connections in general made the pool quite shallow to begin with.
And I wonder — not unlike the growing numbers of viewers who have turned off sports — if the masses will realize how little they missed their brackets.
Again, the folks who want to gamble and who enjoy gambling sooner rather than later will be able to bet through their phone on anything from table tennis to Texas being terrible in the tournament.
This and that
— Have we reached the third step of the apocalypse when Miami declares a state of emergency for too much partying. The city that brought us Scarface and Canseco and all of those Da U teams that launched a lifetime of swag in the 1980s and made Jimmy Johnson's hair a talking point is now partying beyond its means. Wow. This is like Vegas asking for the National Guard because there's too much gambling.
— Man, confusing times no? So here's a story of an actor I don't know being in the crosshairs after a female alleged him of sexual misconduct. The locale of this alleged sexual assault was the Cloak & Dagger, which is described in the story as, "the Goth club, where a cast of experimental artists performed eerie, sexually charged ceremonies each week in the back rooms of the Pig 'N Whistle bar" and "an uninhibited, LGBTQ-friendly, members-only club where underground DJs, actors, rockers and adventurous partygoers could revel in safety and secrecy."
— Wonder if Gov. Cuomo saw the way Rep. Tom Reed of New York handled his misdeeds over the weekend?
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
Happy birthday William Shatner and JJ Watt.
Speaking of that, which NFL family ranks second behind the Mannings, because the Watts would be in the conversation?
Also, on this day in 1963, a little band called The Beatles release their first album.
Reese Witherspoon is 45 today. What's her Rushmore?