Welcome back to BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all your NCAA needs.
Today's edition includes the sting of being rejected by famous people, an underdog on underdogs, Kevin Ware's popularity on Facebook and the actual location of next year's Final Four. That and some Bracket Bits that includes Tom Izzo and 2 Chains — together, of course.
THE STING OF REJECTION
In our continuing quest to serve readers, we've chased down scions of entertainment, politics and business to talk college hoops.
The Rock? He was cheering for alma mater Miami, of course. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell? He went to Louisville but — ever the diplomat — declined to trash talk the rivals. Scott Flanders, the guy who runs Playboy? He was arranging his basketball watching around a masquerade party at the mansion.
But like a defending national champion that doesn't make the tournament (sorry, Kentucky), we too know the sting of rejection, getting a string of them.
Here's a few of the no-thank-yous from AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode:
James Earl Jones (Michigan) was in Australia touring with "Driving Miss Daisy," and only wanted to talk about the show. Will Ferrell was busy filming "Anchorman 2" — but he went to USC and they didn't even make the tourney, so who cares? Elizabeth Dole, the former North Carolina senator and Duke alum, had just broken her foot (OK, that one seems reasonable).
Blue Devil Ron Paul was traveling. So was Gator Bob Vila, Jayhawk Sheila Bair, and Jayhawk/Quantum Leaper Scott Bakula. Personal finance guru Suze Orman (Illinois), "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk (Oregon), screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (Syracuse) and actor Paul Rudd (Kansas) were just plain "unavailable."
Donald Trump was too busy, but sent his regards. "Mr. Trump would, however, like to thank you for thinking of him and sends his best wishes to you and your team for a successful story!" his office wrote.
Others just weren't into it. "So sorry, but it's not Madonna's thing," said the spokeswoman for the former Michigan undergrad.
"Bob actually is not much of a sports fan," said the spokesman for Bob Benmosche, the guy in charge of righting the wrong that was AIG.
"After more thought, he decided to opt out," said the rep for Jim Koch, a Harvard alum and founder of the company that gave us Sam Adams beer. (It was a decision he reached shortly after the Crimson got crushed by Arizona.)
After all that rejection, we're beginning to get the feeling that it's us.
AN UNDERDOG ON UNDERDOGS
Wichita State's run to the Final Four has started up discussions about underdogs.
Well, if you're going to talk about underdogs, might as well start with the Villanova team that shocked college basketball by knocking off powerful Georgetown in the 1985 title game.
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston recently caught up with one of those Wildcats, 7-foot-1 center Chuck Everson, and here's what he had to say about the Shockers:
"Any time you get an 8 or 9 seed, there are comparisons to us," said Everson, who works as a liaison for Sunoco on Long Island. "They kind of came out of nowhere, too. They weren't ranked just like we weren't ranked. Nobody knew who they were until the Final Four. I'm sure they ruined a bunch of brackets just like we did back then."
Of course, even a player from one of college basketball's most famous underdogs is a realist.
Wichita State has to play Louisville, the NCAA tournament's top-seeded team and a group that has rallied around fallen teammate Kevin Ware.
"I think they're going to run into a juggernaut," Everson said. "After what happened the other day to that kid Ware, I think Louisville's on a mission right now. I don't know how I like their chances against Louisville. But you never know, as I can attest to firsthand."
In case you've forgotten about the upset — or weren't even born then — here's the finish: http://bit.ly/16eQfOE
FACEBOOK STATS POINT TO WARE
Everybody is talking about Kevin Ware, and Facebook has the stats to prove it, according to AP National Writer and hoops expert Nancy Armour.
Mentions of the Louisville guard on Facebook skyrocketed 3.7 million percent (you need a NASA calculator to figure that, right?) after he broke his lower right leg in gruesome fashion during Sunday's Midwest Regional final against Duke.
That made him — not Trey Burke, not Seth Curry, not one of the players from Dunk City — the most talked about player for all of March Madness, according to Facebook statistics (www.facebook.com/sports ).
No surprise, Duke-Louisville also got the most mentions of any game on Facebook.
No word on whether Ware gets a trophy for being the MTP.
That's OK, though,
Louisville coach Rick Pitino already let him hang onto the Midwest Regional one, and Ware will be with the Cardinals in Atlanta as they look for another.
NOT BIG D
Contrary to popular belief, next year's NCAA Final Four isn't going to be played in Big D.
Close, but not quite, according to AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins.
When North Texas hosts college basketball's national semifinals and championship game next April, the games will be played in Cowboys Stadium. But the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys is in Arlington — a city of about 375,000 residents situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, and even west of Dallas County.
The South Regional championship was played at the massive stadium last weekend and Michigan coach John Beilein had just one complaint about the setup after the Wolverines earned their first Final Four trip in 20 years.
"Maybe it's that time of year. Everybody was sweating. I think they ought to look at that," he said. "I'm sure they have a thermostat somewhere here."
Maybe they could just crack open the huge glass doors at either end of the ultramodern stadium. Guess opening the retractable roof would be out of the question.
But, hey, they're playing college games on the decks of aircraft carriers these days, so you never know.
Of course we have a photo of Tom Izzo with 2 Chains: http://bit.ly/10y9D7i
A classy letter from Deshaun Thomas to Ohio State's other student-athletes: http://bit.ly/10yeKo8
While we're linking to letters, here's one from Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson: http://bit.ly/10zpMbm
Yesterday, we showed you one dunk from the McDonald's All-Star Game dunk contest. Now here's all of 'em: http://bit.ly/10yeZPX
Stat guru Nate Silver's breakdown of the Final Four: http://nyti.ms/ZWERGL
STAT OF THE DAY
An interesting note from the folks at STATS:
Syracuse's one-point loss to Indiana in the 1987 national championship game was certainly a memorable battle, and it also started a trend that Orange fans won't like heading into Saturday's game against Michigan.
All-time in the Final Four, Big Ten teams have beaten Big East schools four of five times (based on teams' conference affiliation at the time of their meeting).
The lone Final Four win for the Big East over the Big Ten came in 1999, when eventual champ UConn defeated Ohio State in the semifinals. The last such game came in the '09 semifinals, when Michigan State surprised UConn, 82-73.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"It's like he's never left. Words can't explain our feelings to have him back with us." — Louisville guard Peyton Siva on teammate Kevin Ware joining the Cardinals in Atlanta just a few days after his horrific leg injury.
Follow John Marshall on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnmarshallap