- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some regions have all the fun.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament continues this weekend in four cities, including our very own. In the West Region (Los Angeles), La Salle and Wichita State play each other. That means one of the “mid-majors” in the field will be playing for a spot in the Final Four. Tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast is headed to Arlington, Texas, to play in the South Region. The Midwest (Indianapolis) gets a double-digit seed, too, in an Oregon team that will play tournament top seed Louisville.

D.C.? The answer to a trivia question — which is the only region in the tournament where the top four seeds advanced through the first weekend? Yep, Verizon Center is stuck Thursday night with No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Syracuse and No. 2 Miami against No. 3 Marquette.


Maybe so, but here’s a bold prediction: While Washington doesn’t have the “wacky” factor the other regions have, it has the one thing they don’t. Head to Vegas and book this now. The eventual champion is playing here.

Verizon Center has the magic touch. Two years ago, Connecticut and Butler left here after the early rounds as the only teams to win two games and advance. All they did was end up playing for the championship, won by Connecticut.

The trail to the top runs through Washington. Yeah, sure, some of you with steel-trap minds may remember reading a prediction of Louisville as eventual champ in this space a week or so ago. We’re taking our mulligan and making another call. Whichever team wins the East Region title Saturday at Verizon will be the survivor of the Final Four.

Which team will that be? C’mon, you want everything? We can’t give you that. The crystal ball is recharging. We can tell you shooting and rebounding well, playing defense, that kind of thing probably won’t have much to do with it.

Which team has the right karma? Let’s take a look at the participants, in no particular order.

⦁ Miami: Where to even begin? The Hurricanes had to pay an extra bag fee to get all their karma to town.

For starters, coach Jim Larranaga was in charge at George Mason when the Patriots became the “it” story in 2006 by advancing to the Final Four. Where did Mason play its regional semis and final that year? How did you guess? Verizon Center, where it beat Connecticut in the region final.

There’s more. Miami’s point guard is a terrific player named Shane Larkin. His father is Barry Larkin, a shortstop who is in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Barry Larkin spent some time as a special assistant to the general manager of the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals play in Washington, duh. Not terribly far from Verizon Center.

As if any more was needed, do yourself a favor and google “Jim Larranaga dancing.” Or click here if you are reading online. The man is 63 years old and has an artificial hip. Yet there he is, auditioning for a spot on “Dancing With the Stars.”  How can you not love that?

⦁ Indiana: Tom Crean, the Hoosiers coach, looks just like the guy who plays Dwight Schrute on “The Office.” That isn’t his biggest claim to fame.

Story Continues →