It's Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament! It is, arguably (or, actually, no argument) the greatest day of the sports year.
Starting at around noon ET, you can find me over at Deadspin, where I'll be all afternoon, live-blogging all of the day's games. Should be a ton of fun, so be sure to drop by and check it out.
(For a taste from the way-back machine, check out my ESPN.com live-blog of Tourney Day 1 from 2003.)
Quick relevant reminiscence: 10 years ago this week (cripes: 10 years?), I was the college basketball editor at ESPN.com. And today was IT: Probably my finest moment on the job.
I knew that ESPN.com would be the key source for millions of fans across the country stuck at work during the first round's afternoon games. (Remember obsessively hitting "refresh" on the ESPN.com scoreboard pages to track games?)
I decided that the key to my coverage strategy would be to update the front-page lead "top story" blurb as often as humanly possible. (Consider this was more than a half-decade before the word "live-blog" was even conceived.)
My recollection is that I averaged a fresh top-story blurb every 8-10 minutes, reflecting the latest momentum moves and storyline shifts. (Somewhere buried in my file cabinet, I have every single one of those blurbs printed out.)
An hyper-enthusiastic 24-year-old, I thought that my efforts appropriately matched the spirit and intensity of the day for fans. (That day, as I believe it has every year since on the first day of the NCAA Tournament, the site set its new one-day traffic record.)
You would have never known it was me behind the scenes, managing the coverage and obsessively flipping those top stories over (and over... and over...), but I was there, having the time of my life.
Including the greatest ESPN.com front page headline never to see the light of day: When 15-seed Coppin State beat 2-seed South Carolina, the concept on the table was:
Coppin a Feel:
Cocks Go Limp
Greatest. Headline. Ever.
Shout-outs to current ESPN.com college basketball editor Andy Glockner, who will be running the show today, and to friends like Executive Editor Kevin Jackson and Page 2 editor David Schoenfield, both my beat-editing colleagues at the time, who were in on the all-hands-on-deck coverage team then -- as they probably are now. Fans remain in phenomenal hands.
Meanwhile, 10 years later, I am reviving that new-comment-every-few-minutes role – not on ESPN.com, but on the leading sports blog.
That 24-year-old Dan -- a limitless ESPN.com career ahead of him -- could never have possibly imagined how things would work out over the following 10 years. (Indeed: I'm sure he would have yelped, "34? What could THAT fogey know?" Ahh, arrogance of youth...)
But I think that Dan would have been excited to know that the first afternoon of the NCAA Tournament remains his most thrilling moment of the sports year. (Sorry for the 3rd-person reference.)
So I have no other editorial message today besides this: Enjoy it.
LAST CHANCE! Sign up NOW for the "Daily Quickie Readers" group of ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge. Come on: You KNOW you have an entry or two left!
By the way, I don't know if this stat is accurate, but DS.com commenter GuyInTheCorner claims that there are only three ESPN.com Tournament Challenge groups that have more than 1,000 entrants: Mike and Mike's, Deadspin's and "Daily Quickie Readers." For that, I heartily and sincerely thank you.
(As impressive as last year's largest-in-the-country 10,000-person pool group was, this year's total 1,300 – and counting! – is arguably more impressive, because I don't have my ESPN.com platform to drive entries, just this blog. So THANK YOU!)
Meanwhile, just in time for today's Tournament tip-off, Deadspin wrapped up its team-by-team coverage with my preview of
Previewing Today's Afternoon Games:
Inconsistent Terps should worry you.
7 BC over 10
I can't buy BK in the Tourney.
6 L'ville over 11 Stanford
Like Clerks, Cardinal shouldn't even be here today.
Remember when I picked 16 ORU over 1
2 G'town over 15
How strong will trendy Hoyas look?
A nation of bandwagoneers holds it breath.
6 Vandy over 11 G.
The annual 5 p.m. ET game no one ever sees!
More Sports News:
NBA: Mavs-Suns. I had a very hard time getting too fired up for Mavs-Suns last night. Not just because the NCAA Tournament starts today, but because in the grand scheme of things, a regular-season NBA game – no matter who is playing in it – is meaningless. It's even MORE meaningless between top contenders. Does last night's result provide any indication of what will happen in the postseason if/when they meet again? No. Oh, and the Spurs are winning the West. So, really, when does Maryland-Davidson start? Give me one-game, win-or-bust playoff formats any day.
However, all that said: The Suns winning in
NBA Whining: Phil Jackson says Kobe Bryant is the subject of a "witch hunt" by the NBA? Oh for crying out loud... literally.
NFL: No. 21 in this newly redesigned jersey will be a Top 3 seller among NFL fans.
MLB: Gary Matthews denies taking HGH. Well, of COURSE he does. And short of anyone with proof he took it, it's all speculation, at best.
Meanwhile, the Albany DA will provide the names of all athletes involved in the recent PED bust to MLB. Intriguing! How fast before THOSE are leaked? Meanwhile, the NFL says they don't want to know. (Kidding: But, really, you know I'm not...)
Reptiles at spring training: I have heard that the movie sequel will be called "Snakes in a Press Box." The YouTube parody video writes itself.
But, seriously, are you paying attention to anything else in sports besides the Tournament? No. So here we go!