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Article:March Madness Running Blog - Day one

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'For each day of March Madness, I'll be posting a running blog at North of the 400. I'll also post abridged versions here, once a day.'

March Madness, for me, is one of the best times of the year. It’s a time when I can watch basketball for something like 11 straight hours for four days.

Which is what I tried to do yesterday, even if things didn’t work our for me all the way.

Walking around downtown Toronto, you’d never know the tourney was going on. Nobody wears jerseys, the bars have their TVs turned to TSN or Rogers Sportsnet so people can watch Leafs Lunch or whatever.

It wasn’t until I popped into a sports appeal store downtown that I heard anything about it. The man behind the counter had the game going over the PA system and seemed to be absorbed in listening. I asked him who was winning and we ended up talking about the madness.

“I have a thousand dollars on the games today,” he told me before pulling out a list about two feet long. Incomprehensible words and numbers all along it, he had to explain how he was betting on the spread.

“See Pitt here, they only JUST win,” he explained, “so I’ve got Oral Roberts beating the sprad.”

“Good luck,” I laughed as I left the store. The poor guy would need it.

My plan for the weekend was to watch as many games as I could and comment on them. As it would turn out, I only would see a few games on Thursday, so I’m just combining them into Friday’s blog.

USC vs Kansas State

Not quite the game I was hoping it would be, but the game I expected it to be. USC’s OJ Mayo is a good player, but I find he tries to do too much on a team that’s a year or two away from being great. He’s the next Starbury, I fear, if he jumps to the NBA too soon.

But Beasley was great. He was dominating the boards, making solid shots and helped lead Kansas State to a solid first-round win.

Duke vs Belmont

A classic. Duke was having a hard time late in the game, not hitting their shots while Belmont was. It took Gerald Henderson’s late-game heroics – and a good steal on an inbounds pass – for Duke to squeak by the Bruins.

It was a sloppy game for the Blue Devils, who looked more then rattled when the pressure arrived. This is twice now that Duke has fallen apart in crunch time of a close game. The first was against North Carolina when Duke missed their last 10 shots.

Of the late games, nothing too big happened. UCLA crushed Mississippi Valley State in a game that I only saw bits and pieces of. Wisconsin survived a scare by Cal State, a school best known for it’s baseball team, and pulled away only midway into the second half.

Notre Dame looked good against George Mason and Brigham Young surprised m dad, who didn’t even know they had a good basketball team, since it’s primarily a school known for it’s football.

All in all, it was an okay evening of the madness, with one great game and a couple pretty good ones. Despite that, though, blowouts by UCLA, Washington State and Pittsburgh dampened the drama a little.

I’ll have comments on the first games of the afternoon up in a bit.

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