- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2007

Leave it to a geographically vague place like the Meadowlands to have a sketchy slogan like “It’s all about being here.” If the folklore is true, I wonder if Jimmy Hoffa feels the same way.

For those unfamiliar with the terrain of northern New Jersey, the functional Continental Airlines Arena is located in East Rutherford (hence, the term East Rutherfordliness). It got me thinking of what must be in Rutherford, since those directional designations usually have some sort of origin.

As it turns out, it’s just a quiet old town with a big, honking castle on its outskirts. Though not exactly the brightest place in the world, it is nowhere near as East Rutherfordly as East Rutherford.

Fortunately for the town made famous by Jersey Turnpike Exit 16W, it did get to play host to a couple excellent games last night — even if Jeff Green did travel on his way to a mind-blowing basket in the closing seconds for Georgetown.

The net effect of last night’s games in East Rutherford and St. Louis: A very, very chalky Elite Eight. Four No. 1 seeds and three No. 2 seeds remain, along with interloper Oregon — a No. 3 seed.

What’s interesting is that it seemed throughout much of the season there was a definitive top seven or eight teams, and then everyone else. North Carolina, Ohio State, UCLA, Kansas and Florida were all part of that group all season, and Georgetown earned a spot there in the final month.

That leaves Memphis — which hovered at the bottom of the top 10 simply because it was hard to gauge how good the Tigers were — and Oregon, which bolted to a fast start, struggled in February and then rebounded.

One other oddball note of the final eight. There are seven conference tournament champions left, all of which have won at least six in a row entering this weekend’s games. The only outlier to the trend is UCLA, a quarterfinal loser to Cal in the Pac-10 tournament.

Maybe falling in the conference tournament can help a team, but it certainly doesn’t look like anyone demonstrably prospered from a setback earlier this month.

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