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How's your NCAA pool?

Friday, March 19, 2010

ANOTHER 'KODAD' MOMENT Steve Kodad Gazette Sports Editor
Ya-hoo! Is everybody in the pool?

How's your NCAA men's basketball pool going? C'mon, be honest. How many of you had Murray State a 13th seed upsetting No. 4 seed Vandy? Or even better, how many of you March Madness prognosticators correctly tabbed Ohio, a 14th seed, upsetting No. 3 Georgetown? That's Ohio U., the guys in green -- not The Ohio State U. Buckeyes.

There were several other near-disasters for highly-seeded teams in Thursday's opening dance card. Top-seed Kansas got a little early scare from Lehigh before winning by double digits, and Villanova, seeded second in the South Region, went overtime with Robert Morris (who?) before claiming a three-point win.

Yours truly decided not to attempt another feeble attempt at predicting the winners in the annual college basketball post-season tournament championship. It just always gets too painful pulling my hair out as I watch my picks fall by the wayside through the opening rounds. Although I would boast just a bit while saying that in past years I had been very successful in predicting a ton of those early-round upsets.

I remember a few years past out in Wyoming. I had filled out a couple brackets, and if my graying memory serves me correctly, I think I missed just one game out of the 32 first-round contests on one of my brackets. But of course, after the following weekend's games pared the teams down to the Final Four, I had just one team remaining.

So I opted to save wear and tear on my hair follicles this spring. But I will risk losing (and growing) a few gray hairs on several first-round games Friday, and I'm seeing those usual early tournament upsets continuing.

I think Utah State and head coach Stew Morrill are vastly underrated. I had a chance to follow the Aggies from Logan, Utah, a few years back when a talented young man from Evanston, Wyo., Jaycee Carroll, starred for USU. A quick sidebar: Carroll, a 6-3 sharp-shooting guard currently playing profession basketball in Spain, once hit 14 of 16 shots from 3-point range and scored 56 points for the Red Devils in a high school game against Green River, Wyo., with his uncle coaching the opposition.

Back to Utah State. The 12th seed in the NCAA South region will knock off No. 5 Texas A&M today. I also think Purdue is seeded way too high, and the fourth-seed Boilermakers will rupture against No. 13 Siena.

I like Kansas and Kansas State in their respective regions, and how excited would the fans south of the border be (and those local KU/KSU fans) if both Kansas squad could meet in a Final Four showdown in Indianapolis April 3?

Hope your bracket doesn't cause too much hair loss (I've heard Duct Tape will stop the hair pulling, until you have to try and pull the sticky stuff off your head).

Spring sports ... It's the spring season, although that may be hard to believe this weekend if the forecasted snowstorm gets us. We're busy collecting information and traveling around the area taking photos of the area high school teams for our annual Spring Sports Edition, which, if all goes according to plan, will be in your hands March 29.

We get to put in a few miles, and I'll probably spend a few late nights in the next week writing stories, but that's a good labor of love to get some added publicity for the area high school athletes who put in extra time out of the classroom competing in their respective favorite sports.

Track and field is one of my favorite sports to cover. There's a variety of tests -- running, jumping, throwing -- for the prep athletes to try and excel in. If the weather cooperates, it's always fun to get out in the sun and get rid of that winter rust. As we all know too well, Mother Nature never seems to fully cooperate in that venture.

A handful of Bison track and field athletes were scheduled to compete indoors Friday at the University of Lincoln-Kearney, with the first outdoor meet set next Friday at North Platte. The McCook girls tennis and boys golf teams are also scheduled to open the season next week.

Divot fever ... I took a short spin around the Heritage Hills golf course last week, and a few days later, I had a chance to see the course in Cambridge while taking photos of the Trojans prep golf squad. Now, I happily confess, I've got the golf itch.

Don't get me wrong, I'll never be confused with a golfer of any considerable skill level, unless the word crappy can be used. Someone asked me recently if I was a golfer. My reply was, "Well, I own a set of golf clubs," but I don't know if golfer would be the term used to describe my activities on the course. Hacker, whacker, slice -- those might be more appropriate monograms. It there's one tree on the course, I will hit it.

So if you see me on the course with a weapon (i.e., club) in my hands, my advice, duck!

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Steve Kodad
Another Kodad Moment