POSTED ON MARCH 16, 2011:
The Best in Our Backyard
It's tip-off time in Tulsa. Let the Madness begin!
Jayhawks, Longhorns, Wildcats, Rebels, Fighting Illini, Tigers, Golden Grizzlies and Terriers: welcome. We know you will enjoy your stay in T-Town.
Unless of course your team gets ousted on Friday, then we just hope you do not hold it against us. We are rolling out the red carpet, orange caution cones and street sweepers (not to be confused with street walkers) for this very special occasion.
Astute prognosticators were salivating over the Tulsa pod while Digger, Dick and Jay shed tears for average teams and reached for more Metamucil.
Announcers Marv Albert and Steve Kerr were assigned to the Tulsa pod. Yes, and it counts! Craig Sager will stalk the sidelines in T-Town as well.
The studious out-of-towners who picked up the Urban Tulsa Weekly are in for a treat. You have the city's happenings at your fingertips. A page flip or two will light the path to good eateries, pubs and great times. If you are a native Tulsan, toss a copy to a visitor, tell them to thank you later.
The mix of major, mid-major and Boston U should make for an exciting week. Raise your hand if you had to look up Boston University for clarification on their conference affiliation. Raise your hand if you did earlier this week and already forgot.
With all due respect to the No. 16 Boston U. Terriers, No. 1 Kansas has the only opening round "gimme" which tips off at 5:50pm this Friday. Kansas has not faired well in the state of Oklahoma during the opening round of the NCAA. That was Oklahoma City and this is Tulsa. Close, but no Cohiba.
Local media members slurp up the Jayhawks. They cannot help themselves. Head Coach Bill Self spent seven years coaching in our city, including four with Oral Roberts and three with the University of Tulsa. We are proud of the former Golden man. However, he might be close to obtaining a restraining order against some of the Tulsa-based media.
Joining KU and BU in the Southwest Regional are No. 8 UNLV and No. 9 Illinois. A solid 8/9 match-up pits a Big Ten power against a mid-major steeped in prestige. This game starts 30 minutes after the KU/BU game concludes.
The Rebels are a well-rounded squad. No superstars jump off the court. Their losses are respectable including tight games against San Diego State and BYU in conference.
The Illini is your typical average team from a good conference. Their record was average coming down the stretch. Their talent is average. Their rebounding is below average which could be a problem.
Some may side with Illinois for one simpleton reason. If they advance, they will meet KU's Self in the next round. Self coached the Illini for three seasons. We better move along before some locals start referring to this as the Bill Self Invitational.
The chips are stacked for a possible epic six-game stint in the BOK Center. Every game should be competitive sans the Jayhawks fist game.
The Tulsa pod also includes four teams from the West Region. Three of the four teams should be very familiar with their trek to T-Town. Welcome back.
No. 4 Texas battles unheralded No. 13 Oakland in the most intriguing 4/13 match-up. Austinites, here are two tidbits of information you may want to file away in the memory bank for your 11:15am tipoff.
Newsflash! Oakland is not located in California. Oakland plays in the Summit League and is located in Michigan. Second of all, they are damn good.
Keith Benson and Reggie Hamilton are poised to make a serious run into the Madness. They deliver the perfect inside/outside game that works in these pressure cooker one-and-done contests.
Both teams have Elite Eight potential. One team will crawl home in a mushy heap.
Also of note is the Texas turmoil. Turmoil? What exactly do you mean? Glad you asked.
No one outside of Texas will be routing for your squad. Expect a large contingent of Jayhawk fans present. They will be huge Grizzlies fans on Friday.
Local Oklahomans cannot route for Texas. It is a DNA thing. You understand. And for the remaining six teams, it is proper protocol to cheer for the underdog. Suffice it to say the Longhorns will be on the short end of the good will. You understand.
No. 5 Arizona is the odd-team out in more ways than one. Not many college basketball fans are familiar with the Pac-10. The late night game schedule alienates the conference from Middle America. The Wildcats are entering the great unknown. What do they know about Tulsa and the BOK Center?
There is one squad that does know T-Town and the BOK. No. 12 Memphis competed in the Conference USA postseason tournament at the BOK last season. The Tigers familiarity with the BOK Center could be a hidden advantage. They certainly know the digs around the city. We're just glad they come in peace and not to take another whack at our Golden Hurricane.
Normally watching from home would be the best possible scenario for March Madness viewing. Not this year, not in our city.
The chips are stacked for a possible epic six-game stint in the BOK Center. Every game should be competitive sans the Jayhawks first game.
The in-arena experience is made easier thanks to twitter and iPhones. Updates for other games are at your fingertips.
Tickets should be sold out by the time you have this column in your hands. Hopefully you have taken advantage of this opportunity to see the countries best in our backyard. Visit bokcenter.com for ticket information.
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