The 10 Spot: March, 20, 2007
1. No room at the inn: Maybe there's one reason that's been overlooked to explain the dearth of big first-round upsets in this year's tournament -- a lousy breakfast buffet. According to the Washington Post, the NCAA assigns teams to hotels based on their seedings. The top-seeded teams get the best digs, typically downtown Marriotts, while lower-seeded squads might end up at an airport Holiday Inn or a rundown "historic" hotel. I wish I'd known that, say, Butler was finally loving life in a luxury hotel as a No. 5 seed rather than its usual No. 11 or 12 before I picked them to lose against Maryland. Maybe the scouting reports should include the thread count of the sheets at the team's hotel.
2. Time capsule: With a few days off before the NCAA tournament resumes, here's something to fill the time. Remember those Robert Goulet college basketball commercials for ESPN from the mid-'90s? Thankfully, they've been saved for posterity. In the spots, Goulet sits on a stool with a band and riffs like a cabaret singer. For example, there's the ode to Tim Duncan and Wake Forest: "Wake Forest is the team for me/ Baddest muthas in the ACC." That clip ends with Goulet saying, "That Duncan kid's name, it ain't just a noun, it's a verb. It's a bad verb." There are 16 spots in all. Enjoy.
3. CBS's ratings for the NCAA's first weekend are up over last year. Finally, an answer to a heretofore theoretical question: Would people watch college basketball games not involving Duke?
4. Some St. Louis police officers are being investigated over allegations that they used World Series tickets seized from scalpers. Criminal charges are unlikely, but that has to be at least a Cardinal sin.
5. Stat of the day: An NIT-record crowd of 26,572 watched Syracuse beat San Diego State 80-64 on Monday night in the also-ran tournament's second round. Wow. Is there really that little to do in Syracuse in late winter?
6. An Iditarod musher was disqualified for whipping his dogs. Outrageous. What did he think this was, the Kentucky Derby?
7. A defensive end at the University of Arkansas was arrested for shoplifting. Naturally, the lineman insists it was a stunt.
8. Quote of the day: "They take and take and take and take and never give back, and I'm sick of it." That's the view of Stars president Jim Lites about the Nashville Predators. Usually, feelings that strong in the NHL are followed by a stick to the chops. Lites is upset that the Predators didn't announce or otherwise recognize the Stars' Mike Modano when he tied and then broke the record for goals scored by an American-born player on Saturday in Nashville. Lites is also perturbed, it seems, by his view that Nashville sits on its fat revenue-sharing check and voted against recent proposed schedule change because the current format has them playing weaker teams.
9. Splash: OK, so you're probably not following the Cricket World Cup. If not, you might not be aware that English vice-captain Andrew Flintoff proved over the weekend that he can indeed hit water when falling out of a boat. Alas, Flintoff's late-night cruise in a pilfered paddleboat after hoisting many pints with his teammates in the wake of Friday's loss to New Zealand has caused him to be banned from the team's next match (against Canada) and stripped of his vice-captain duties. It seems Flintoff swiped the paddleboat, which the English call a "pedalo," near the team's hotel in St. Lucia. Alas, he capsized in the water and had to be rescued. The whole affair is being dubbed "Pedalogate," which at least answers the question that Americans aren't the only ones to turn every scandal into "Something-gate." Five other players were also fined after reports that they were so drunk and rowdy in the pub that they were kissing each other; no word if there were any Snickers bars on hand. (Thanks to the 10 Spot's loyal London correspondent, Katherine, for passing this along.)
10. The Texas Rangers have bought back the naming rights of their ballpark from Ameriquest. The stadium will henceforth be known as The House That Humidity Built.