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Best day of the sports year? Best day of the sports year.
That's the lead of today's (new!) Morning Win column on USATODAY.com.
The epicenter is the 8 games this afternoon -- watching at night is fun, but watching during the workday, with everyone you know invested in the outcomes (despite not having a deep-seated fan-love of any of the teams) is special.
Here's a little clip from the column, because it's a Quickie tradition:
12:15 (CBS): 3 Michigan State vs. 14 Valpo (Auburn Hills, Mich. - Midwest)
Pick against Tom Izzo in the first round? Yeah, right.
12:40 (truTV): 6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell (Lexington, Ky. - East)
Against any other 6, Bucknell would be the upset pick.
1:40 (TBS): 8 Pittsburgh vs. 9 Wichita State (Salt Lake City - West)
The classic 8-9 dilemma: Does it even matter?
2:10 (TNT): 4 Saint Louis vs. 13 NM State (San Jose - Midwest)
Billikens are the best team you’ve never watched.
2:45 (CBS) 6 Memphis vs. 11 Saint Mary's (Auburn Hills - Midwest)
Only upset of the day, thanks to Gaels’ running start in First Four.
3:10 (truTV) 3 Marquette vs. 14 Davidson (Lexington - East)
Upset special? It’s a sneaky-trendy pick, but Marquette too tough.
4:10 (TBS) 1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Southern (Salt Lake City - West)
Zags need a tune-up after long layoff.
4:40 (TNT) 5 Oklahoma State vs. 12 Oregon (San Jose - Midwest)
Is Cowboys PG Marcus Smart the Tourney’s top NBA prospect?
Most people's Round of 64 is chalky. (9-over-8 doesn't count.) My entire night slate is chalk (except for 9 Mizzou over 8 Colorado State, which I could have gone either way on, given the Rams' superlative offensive-rebounding skills. This afternoon is about Saint Mary's using the springboard of the First Four to catch Memphis flat-footed and pull off the only upset of the day. (Or so I'm picking.)
Meanwhile: Of the Heat's 24 straight wins, last night's was the most impressive -- down 27 in the 3rd, they still won... The pushback on the NFL's new rules around lowering the head is a pretty good indicator of the institutional issues that caused the brain-injury epidemic in the first place... I'm bummed for my LIU-Brooklyn team that lost in the play-in, but hard not to feel good for James Madison. (BTW: Those LIU uniforms have to be among the 5 coolest in the Tournament field.)
Anyway, check out today's column (and please try to share it around!) and get your bracket into the Daily Quickie Readers group.
Enjoy the day!