Mason Mania Ends! With the NCAA Tournament within their grasp, Championship Week sensation (and reigning Cinderella) George Mason uncharacteristically choked it away – or, more accurately, VCU stole it away.
Two backcourt picks erased a 5-point lead late and earned VCU the Colonial's auto-bid, leaving George Mason to be a headline team in the NIT. VCU's Eric Maynor was the hero, making the steals and scoring 9 points in the final 2 minutes. Absolutely clutch.
But it was a hell of a rousing way to spend the Monday night of Championship Week, that nebulous moment between the end of the big-conference regular season and the big-conference tournaments.
It is the end of the epilogue for George Mason, whose Cinderella story that began a year ago on Selection Sunday turned them into a college hoops icon – a team you can't help but tune in (and root) for.
More Madness: Gonzaga tops
Psst! Sign up for the "Daily Quickie Readers" group of ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge!
NCAA Uniforms Madness: No, seriously: Madness. What the hell is this? I'm all for radical experiments, but – really – on the eve of the NCAA Tournament? Is this a joke?
(OK, who remembers -- god, this must have been 15 years ago or more -- when NC State used similarly tight, form-fitting uniforms? It looked like they were in the Tour de France. The look lasted one game, I believe.)
Thanks to UniWatch's Paul Lukas for sending me this link to NC State's old "unitard" unis. Or is that "uni-'tard"... here's the link. Shorts went over the one-piece uniform.
Artest Arrest: He's off the Kings indefinitely, but it looks like his troubles are a lot worse than that after his arrest yesterday. This might be The Big One for Ron-Ron. (But, to look at the bright side, he's a shoo-in for a starting spot for the Cellblock D All-Stars.)
Dwyane Wade wants to come back, rather than have season-ending surgery. He obviously feels like the risk of aggravating his injury into something much worse is less than the potential reward of returning and leading the Heat to a conference title in the mediocre East. His call, but it's not what I would do. (I also just released him from my fantasy roster, where he was my anchor star, picking up Willie Green from the waiver wire. But, no, I'm not bitter or anything.)
NFL Free Agency: RB Travis Henry's fantasy stock just shot up, after he signed with the Broncos as a free agent. In their system, he should be good for consistent 100-yard games and an improvement in TDs. (It's so awesome that the biggest subplot of this signing that everyone seems to want to talk about is its fantasy implications.)
NFL Trade: Jets get RB Thomas Jones and a 2nd-rounder from the Bears for a higher 2nd-round draft pick. Jones gives the Jets an instant starter at RB, which they presumably think is better than the RB they would get in the early second-round of the draft (or via free agency). For the Bears, this means the running game is entirely in the hands of Ced Benson.
UNC-Duke Fall-Out, Cont'd. Let's rank the reputations that were tarnished, in order of how badly: (1) Billy Packer (2) Coach K (3) Gerald Henderson.
MLB: Prior sucks in return. 3 ER in less than 2 IP means that the Cubs are either glad they picked up Lilly as insurance or sad their rotation isn't what they thought it would be.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is Boston's Jon Lester, who returned to the mound after battling cancer that was caught late last season. He had chemo as recently as a few months ago. Comeback to track.
More NBA: Someday, LeBron vs. Yao might be a perennial Finals matchup (don't bet on it). Last night, it was an intriguing matchup. LeBron went over 30 for the 4th straight game and
Beckham Update: Out for only a month. MLS breathes a sigh of relief, then continues printing up Galaxy jerseys with his name on it.
Ron Borges, Suspended Two Months for Plagiarism. When the story makes the AP wire, you're done. Borges was banned from writing for two months (without pay... and without being able to go on TV); it makes you wonder how he himself would cover an athlete given a similar type of suspension for a similar type of "cheating" infraction.
(At the very least, Borges should be kicked off the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee immediately, an idea inspired by an insider's tip to ProFootballTalk. In PFHOF terms, Borges has become the Alex Karras of journalism.)
Meanwhile, kudos to the AP for citing them, but even bigger kudos to the stout-hearted geniuses at ColdHardFootballFacts.com for helping to bust this story wide open. Here's a phenomenal "24"-style recap.
I'm totally intrigued by the "notes exchange" that is apparently at the heart of the scandal. The exchange is where writers share tips and info and are allowed to pull liberally from it.
Is trolling a glorified message board what passes for the crackerjack "reporting" that mainstream sports media is always proclaiming it's so good at?
Seriously: A notes exchange might have been useful as recently as 10 years ago, but what self-respecting reporter or columnist can't use the... um... INTERNET to quite easily do his own research?
Have you signed up for the "Daily Quickie Readers" group of ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge? What are you waiting for? Last year's group was the largest single office pool in the country. Let's do it again!
Don't forget: Catch me and your other favorite NYC-based bloggers reading at the Varsity Letters
Do you have kids? Do you think you're going to have kids? Are you simply curious about the future generations of sports fandom? I'm quietly ramping up my new Varsity Dad blog, but readers on this blog get a sneak preview until I'm ready for a real launch.