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'Have you ever heard of Little Richard?'

Sunday - 3/23/2014, 5:08am  ET

Mercer guard Kevin Canevari (3) dances with team mates after the second half of an NCAA college basketball second-round game against Duke, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C. Mercer won 78-71. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

AP Sports Writer

Welcome back to a mostly Mercer-packed edition of BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for your offbeat NCAA tournament needs. Today, we get to the bottom of Duke's dirty trick, take a whirlwind tour of Little Richard's hometown and try to placate the eggheads in our midst. Without further ado:



Turns out tiny Mercer's takedown of mighty Duke was even better than it looked.

Never mind all the other advantages the Blue Devils brought to the game that the Bears couldn't hope to match: NBA-caliber players, a Hall of Fame coach, a bigger budget than two dozen BCS football programs, a pedigree and blue blood (whatever that's good for), not to mention a 27-minute commute from their campus in Durham to the loading dock at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

But just to drive home the point, someone locked Mercer out of its locker room at halftime. We dispatched Associated Press sports writer Joedy McCreary to investigate.

Sophomore Ike Nwamu told him the Bears viewed the setback as just one more hill to climb. They went over their game plan -- whispering, we presume, since Duke probably has NSA connections, too -- and did what they could to stay loose. Teammates kept reminding each other, as Nwamu put it, "We've got a big task ahead of us."

Barely two minutes passed before someone got the door open. When the Bears came back out after halftime, they shot 58 percent and sank the Blue Devils 78-71.

All that proved is that if the folks at Duke were as smart as they think they are, they would have made sure to lock Mercer in.



As the final seconds ticked down on the Mercer-Duke game, former NBA player and coach Sam Mitchell stood in middle of the TSN studios and did his version of an Irish river dance. Mitchell may have been born in Macon, Ga., but he comes by his varied musical tastes honestly.

"Let me ask you a question: Have you ever heard of Little Richard?" the proud Mercer grad began without waiting for an answer. "Have you ever heard of Otis Redding? They're from Macon, Ga."

Actually, Redding was born in Dawson, Ga. But just like the classic scene from "Animal House" where Boon overlooks Bluto's historical faux pas -- "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" -- AP's Jon Krawczynski didn't interrupt Mitchell because he was rolling.

"Have you ever heard of (former L.A. Lakers guard) Norm Nixon?" Mitchell continued. "That's Norm Nixon's hometown."

And so it is. But among that distinguished crowd, only Mitchell could lay claim to helping the Bears make the NCAAs. But that was back in the early 1980s, and the small school from Macon didn't win a game.

"It's one thing to advance in the NCAA tournament," Mitchell demurred. "It's a whole 'nother thing to beat a school like Duke."

"They put us on the map and gave us an identity," he said, rolling once again. "That's something that all of us graduates of Mercer will be indebted to these guys for forever. They put us on the map."

Right. Which still shows Macon exactly 101.3 miles up the road from Dawson.



Somewhere, Warren Buffett is smiling.

We said that when he went to bed Thursday night, too, but that was a guess. Now it's official.

As of 4:45 p.m. Eastern, right about the time Stanford beat New Mexico, there were still 16 perfect brackets left among millions of entries. Four hours later, not long after Memphis beat George Washington, the last three were kaput.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Another thing BracketRacket noted the night before last were the odds (9.2 quintillion-to-1, give or take a few hundred trillion, we think) that Buffett would have to fork over the $1 billion himself, since one of his companies served as underwriter for the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.

Those who put a down-payment on a house planning to use proceeds from Mr. Buffett are advised to call his friends at Quicken Loans.



Dayton wins! Dayton wins!

In your dreams, maybe. Or if this were the old TV show "College Bowl," instead of the NCAA tournament, then absolutely.

At least that's what the folks at Inside Higher Ed assured us would happen if the schools filling out the brackets competed at educating students instead of padding their bottom lines. What a quaint notion!

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