POSTED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2011:
Let's give the NCAA Tournament its full-court press
Nothing But Net. Tulsa’s NCAA games will be played on Friday, March 18 and Sunday, March 20. Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. said officials estimate that the six local games will have a $13 million economic impact on the city.
A year ago, University of Northern Iowa's diminutive guard Ali Farokhmanesh stood alone at the 3-point line in the Oklahoma City Arena.
With the 9-seed Panthers up by one and only 35 seconds left in the game, the prudent play would have been to pull back, reset and wait for the inevitable foul.
Instead, Farokhmanesh manned-up and launched a 3-pointer. He planted a dagger in the hearts of Jayhawk fans. He also destroyed 42 percent of all ESPN.com brackets that predicted Kansas as the eventual champion.
It was a moment replayed and talked about throughout the tournament. As this year's March Madness approaches, ready yourself for the highlight to be shown a few more times.
The University of Tulsa pushed hard for the rights to host part of the NCAA Tournament this year. Along with the Tulsa Sports Commission, they are ramping up efforts to spread the word.
"Having the second and third rounds of the NCAA tournament in Tulsa is a tremendous opportunity for our community," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.
Forget the "second and third round" jargon. This is the opening round regardless of what the NCAA is selling. Their so-called "opening round" will remain nothing more than a play-in game.
Tulsa's games will be played on Friday, March 18 and Sunday, March 20. Tickets for all games during all sessions are available right now for $237. Visit ncaa.com/mbbtickets for information.
We will witness six games on the court in our backyard and it equates to a little less than $40 per game.
How is my PR hat wearing so far? Pretty decent right? Normally filling the BOK Center for basketball would not be high on my list of priorities. But this time, it's personal.
Take a look at the seven cities outselling us as of a couple of weeks ago: Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Chicago and Cleveland.
Are we going to let a slumping Detroit city outdo us? Can the downtrodden basketball city of Cleveland have less apathy toward the game than T-Town? Charlotte? Pfft.
People, people, people. How is it going to look across the nation when CBS Studio throws a buzzer-beating, nail-biter to the BOK Center and seven people are golf-clapping as Gus Johnson's voice reaches decibels only canines can hear?
The contrarian might argue the games could stink. We may end up with lopsided wins. Teams with no ties to our region might get slotted to appear here. To those people I say, yeah but still.
Do not purchase your all-session pass banking on Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas or Duke being assigned to our pod. It will only set you up for disappointment.
Do not purchase your pass in anticipation of our Golden Hurricane being slotted here. I fully expect Coach Doug Wojcik's squad to make a serious run and possibly win C-USA postseason tournament. However, rules prohibit the host team from playing in their own building.
Do purchase your tickets if supporting you city appeals to you. Also, college basketball in March is the best. The $237 could equal an Ali Farokhmanesh moment or a Bryce Drew shot. You think I'm overselling here? Go ahead and start typing Bryce Drew in Google and see what word follows his name.
Here is another strong side note to consider. Scott Sutton's Oral Roberts squad can absolutely be assigned to the BOK Center bracket. His team will compete for the Summit League postseason championship.
Golden Eagles forward Dominique Morrison has the potential to take over any game at any time. This is the scenario we should be hoping for instead of hitching our city's wagon to Texas or Kansas.
Some of my brethren in the media have started dissecting bracketology. It is futile. First of all, no one can honestly say they know who the top eight seeds in the tournament will be, at least not right now.
Second of all, no one can tell you which team will get the Tulsa nod. So it is all just for fun. However, the guessing game really is not all that fun.
"With an estimated $13 million economic impact, community support is such an important factor when a tournament of this magnitude comes to town," said Mayor Bartlett.
"Many businesses are already planning for special events during the tournament and we expect high traffic volumes at our many arts, entertainment and shopping districts. We hope with Tulsa's strong community spirit that NCAA representatives will keep Tulsa on their radar screen and return to Tulsa in the near future."
And if the committee does not like what we have to offer, a strong showing will at least turn us on to other sports ventures.
Basketball talk without mentioning Blake Griffin taking over the All Star Weekend should be punishable by required viewing of the Lifetime Channel.
Everything that happened to him this past weekend was vintage Blake.
Friday night, in the Rookie/Sophomore game, he was blasted in the mouth. Only Blake could manage to get hurt in a glorified pick-up game.
Saturday night he brought the house down in winning a very entertaining night of Slam Dunks. The guy only has one gear, sixth.
Sunday evening, against the world's best players, he stepped up to the challenge.
I am going to level with you. I am way too lazy to research Griffin's contract status.
But I'm not too lazy to envision the day when Griffin returns home to play with Durant and Westbrook for the Thunder.
Come on Presti, make it happen!
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