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Somebody get the man another espresso.



When last we saw “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, he had a full plate. Season five ended with his character, Don Draper, and the rest of the old-boy network at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce wrestling with issues like adultery and suicide. Turns out his time off from the series was almost as stressful.

“I’ve been around long enough to remember the Big Eight,” the Missouri alum (Class of `93) told Associated Press television writer Lynn Elber. “Then, we’re in the Big 12. And now we’re in the SEC, which is really weird for me because this is our first season, and our football team just got destroyed.

“But a rising tide lifts all boats,” he added, “and we will, hopefully, be challenged by our new conference.”

“Mad Men” makes its debut this season April 7, the night before the NCAA championship game, and the shooting schedule has wreaked havoc on his regular sports-viewing habits. The Tigers open tournament play against Ole Miss on Friday at Nashville, but Hamm _ who played football, baseball and swam in high school _ concedes he hasn’t been able to follow them as closely as he’d like.

“We’re usually off by this time, so I usually get the whole March Madness-wash-over-me excitement. That has not been this season,” he said. “Last year, we finished (taping) in February. This year, it will be April. So I missed the World Series last year, I missed the playoffs this year, I’ll miss everything but the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

Not that it will stop him from filling out a bracket.

“I usually do every year. Give somebody $10,” Hamm chuckled, “and break the law.”



From the opening tip of the play-in games until the sound of “One Shining Moment” is blaring in the background as confetti falls on the newly crowned champion, we will be told over and over how each and every tournament game is freighted with emotion.

But if top-seeded Kansas and North Carolina both win their first games, and wind up colliding in the second round at Kansas City’s Sprint Arena, well, you’ll probably see Tar Heels coach Roy Williams fined for carrying excessive baggage.

Williams’ ties to both schools are wrenching. He was born in in North Carolina, played briefly there, and worked under legendary coach Dean Smith as an assistant. Then he went to Kansas and made his reputation as one of the best in the game by winning almost everything in sight _ Williams still has more wins in Kansas City than any other active coach, including current Jayhawks coach, Bill Self _ except the national title. He had to go back to UNC to do that.

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