- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

As I look to my left out of my hotel room, I see a New Jersey Turnpike tollbooth off Exit 16W. On my right, a swamp. Fortunately, there has been no word from this guy. It is this scene that encapsulates my favorite word for the week: East Rutherfordliness. In East Rutherford, it’s an inescapable trait.

Interesting happenings last night in this rock, chalk, chalk bracket tournament. Well, sort of. A pair of ones and a pair of twos are still around, which provides even more evidence this was the year to take all the higher seeds and throw away five bucks that way.

Expect it to continue up here in the optimistically-described Meadowlands, which also has

one of those homogenous courts the NCAA apparently decided to use for the regionals this year (the

perimeter of the court in all black, the host city printed on one baseline, the arena name on the other,

a giant blue NCAA sticker at midcourt, a host school logo sticker also on the floor, etc.).

Vanderbilt could give Georgetown a go of it, assuming the Commodores figure out a way to prevent Roy Hibbert from turning the game into his own personal layup line. North Carolina is in solid shape against Southern California, even if Reyshawn Terry doesn’t play because of strep throat.

Out in St. Louis, somebody unexpected will be in the regional final, if only because second-seeded Wisconsin was ousted last week. But Florida-Oregon is definitely not a stretch for a Sunday meeting, although UNLV might have another upset in them against the Duckies.

Way more fascinating subplots unfolded off the floor. It’s tough to blame Tubby Smith for soft-landing at Minnesota to avoid an inevitable showdown with angry Kentucky fans. Here’s hoping he doesn’t saunter down the Pat Kennedy road of career decline, though Minnesota’s plight since NCAA sanctions hit for academic fraud don’t leave much room for immediate optimism.

Steve Alford’s move from Iowa to New Mexico is just as interesting. Alford wore out his welcome in Iowa City when he didn’t win as consistently as predecessor Dr. Tom Davis (big surprise there), who himself was unceremoniously shuffled out of Hawkeye Land eight years ago. New Mexico has an even more rabid fan base, and Alford’s career could be made in the next few seasons in Albuquerque.

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