- Associated Press - Friday, March 23, 2012

Welcome to the all-Carolina-most-of-the-time edition of Bracket Racket, your one-stop shopping for all things NCAA on tournament game days.

It’s been said that “God is a Tar Heel.” Discuss.

CELEBRITY ALUM

The opposing argument is presented by NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer. His Ohio University Bobcats meet North Carolina in St. Louis.

“I’m not very good at this, so I’m going with my heart,” Lauer said. “Ummm, 57-52 Bobcats.”

Not very good?

Lauer didn’t pick his beloved Bobcats to win even one game, let alone two. And if it wasn’t for producer (Tar Heel alert:) Megan Kopf, he’d have no idea what his alma mater is up against now: Five national titles, four times runner-up, a zillion Final Four appearances, the ghost of Michael Jordan. Last week, the Tar Heels even locked up the endorsement of porn fans _ or at least their cheerleaders did.

Besides, the only sport Ohio U. excelled at before the tournament began, was, well, jubilating.

It’s consistently ranked among America’s top party schools, maybe because the street running through the center of campus is lined by nearly two dozen bars. Students spill out onto Court Street every year on the night the clock turns ahead _ to protest the loss of a drinking hour. For a serious sports fix, most Athenians still make the 90-minute drive to Columbus to watch mighty Ohio State.

“And I was there in the days of Woody Hayes,” Lauer sighed. “We were always the red-headed stepchild. For years, I got introduced as `This is Matt. He went to Ohio State.”

Lauer wasted plenty of time following sports, anyway, and plowed the rest into Ohio U.’s very good communications program. With crazy hours and three kids at home, he has less and less time to follow the bouncing ball on TV.

But lately, he has this recurring dream.

“Court Street erupts and if the weather’s nice, the doors will be open, the TV sets blaring and you’ll be able to hear it all the way,” he said finally, “to Chillicothe.”

Not a chance, Matt. But thanks for sharing.

And there will be a party no matter what.

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