Saturday, March 29, 2003



[3] Marquette vs. [1] Kentucky
{In Progress} Minneapolis, MN

Marquette is up by 19 at the half! Complete shocker. I suppose it's too late to make a pick on this game, but I'm guessing Kentucky will make a run at some point and get back into it. Marquette is so well-coached and solid, I really doubt they're going to let it slip away.


[1] Arizona vs. [2] Kansas
7:05 PM ET Anaheim, CA

The rematch. Kansas wants revenge for letting a huge halftime lead evaporate in a regular season loss to Arizona in Kansas. Both teams are talented as hell, but Arizona is definitely deeper. Nick Collison is coming off the best performance of his career and may need to duplicate it, and get help from Kirk Hinrich if Kansas is going to knock off the #1 seed and advance to the Final Four for the second straight year. My gut feeling is, Arizona has too much firepower and too many options on offense.

Pick: Arizona

On a programming note, CBS sucks. Last night, they screwed up their coverage so badly I was screaming at the TV. In both sets of games, they failed to switch over to or Look-In on close ballgames that were going on during their featured games. First, while we were watching early second half action in the Texas-Connecticut game, Butler was cutting into Oklahoma's lead and making it a game. By the time CBS got around to switching over, we saw Butler have a bad sequence with a minute or so left and the game was over. There were only two games going on at the time! That piker network couldn't even make us feel as if we were a part of both games. Completely dropped the ball. Then, they did it again. During halftime of the Michigan State-Maryland game, the Syracuse-Auburn game was coming down to the end. After a long series of commercials, we went back to the studio for first half analysis of the Spartans and Terrapins, ignoring the other game that was close and getting closer. Then another series of commercials, then back to the Michigan State-Maryland game for some on-court commentary. When we finally checked in with the Syracuse-Auburn game there was less than a minute left and Auburn was scrambling to tie it up. I'm glad we got to see the end and catch the excitement of that game, but why weren't we involved with it all along? It was as if CBS had never covered the event before and was learning on the job. Horrible inefficiency. Extremely frustrating. I can't wait until this current contract expires and ESPN hopefully will take over the gig and do it up right. We need Dickie V and Fowler and, well, I could do without Digger, but my point is, ESPN understands the sports viewer and CBS obviously has no clue. Pikers.


Three more exciting basketball games last night. Oklahoma let Butler back in the game late, but Ebi Ere was on fire and the Sooners never really let us believe that they could get beaten by the Bulldogs. Besides that, the other games seemed to follow a similar pattern. Texas had control until T.J. Ford got into foul trouble with over ten minutes left and Connecticut went on a run to make it a great game. Brandon Mouton hit some big shots for Texas and Ford sank some clutch free throws in the final minute to barely escape the Huskies. In like fashion, Michigan State had complete control of their game until Maryland started putting on the full court press and really rattled the point guard-challenged Spartans. In the end, it was a freshman, Paul Davis, who scored Michigan State's last six points, including the eventual game winner, and the Terps senior guard Steve Blake who missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer. And in yet another squeaker, Syracuse led most of the game, but Auburn nailed four threes in the final minute and a half to pull within one point. The game appeared to be over after the last three went in, but the refs reviewed it and put three tenths of a second back on the clock. The Orangemen inbounded and the game was over, but if there were thirty seconds left in that game instead of three tenths, the Tigers could have pulled the upset.

Friday, March 28, 2003


Three excellent games last night. Wisconsin scared the living crap out of Kentucky. After losing star guard Keith Bogans to a high ankle sprain in the first half, the Wildcats needed a big effort from the rest of their squad to hold off the pesky Badgers. If Bogans can't go on Saturday, the Marquette Golden Eagles could be headed to the Final Four. That's right, Marquette could be headed to the Final Four! The Golden Eagles broke the game open in the second half, then held off a furious comeback from Pittsburgh to advance to the next round. With three minutes left, the Panthers came roaring back and cut a ten-point deficit to one, but Marquette got a huge hoop from its stud Dwayne Wade with 23 seconds left and sank their free throws down the stretch for the victory. Marquette and Kentucky have played more often than any other matchup in tournament history.

In the only non-competitive game of the evening, Arizona blew out Notre Dame to take its rightful place in the Elite 8. I didn't get to see much of the game because CBS did the right thing by sticking with the Kentucky-Wisconsin nail-biter rather than switching to the Wildcats' destruction over the Fighting Irish. Arizona will take on Kansas in the next round, after the Jayhawks defeated the Duke Blue Devils in a game that lived up to its billing. There were a ton of lead changes, great defense, great coaching, and lots of heart. Unforunately for Duke, freshman marksman J.J. Redick was ice cold. He went 2 for 16 from the field, 1 of 11 from behind the arc, to finish with five points. Every time Duke built a lead, they failed to deliver the knockout punch. If one or two of Redick's treys would have fallen, it could have given Duke the momentum to close it out. In a parallel situation, Kansas got a horrible game from its senior guard Kirk Hinrich, who shot 1 of 9 from the field and 0 for 5 from three-point land. But Nick Collison was tough. The senior forward had the game of his life, scoring 33 points and 18 rebounds, while displaying his oustanding hands, footwork, and touch around the basket, in addition to some courageous stamina. So, while Duke regroups for next season with a slew of returning youngsters, Kansas gets its rematch against Arizona in what should be one helluva game.

Check out Dickie V for a higher energy look at last night's Sweet Sixteen games.

The games start in a half hour and I still have to drive crosstown, so in the interest of time, I'm going to refer you to Andy Katz for a breakdown of tonight's matchups and give you my picks.


[5] Connecticut (23-9) vs. [1] Texas (24-6)
7:27 PM ET San Antonio, TX

Texas is essentially playing in front of a home crowd and T.J. Ford was just named ESPN player of the year. Hook 'em, Horns!

Pick: Texas

[6] Maryland (21-9) vs. [7] Michigan State (21-12)
9:57 PM ET San Antonio, TX

This is a great matchup. Maryland is still riding the magic of their buzzer-beating opening round victory over UNC Wilmington and Michigan State just flat-out embarrassed my alma mater Florida in the second round. Using the old adage, of I'm going with the team that beat my team...

Pick: Michigan State


[1] Oklahoma (25-6) vs. [12] Butler (27-5)
7:10 PM ET Albany, NY

I refure to get burned by the Bulldogs again! I think they have a legitimate chance to beat the Sooners, I'm rooting for them, and I'd rather pick them and be wrong than underestimate them one more time.

Pick: Butler

[3] Syracuse (26-5) vs. [10] Auburn (22-11)
9:40 PM ET Albany, NY

Auburn has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they belong in this tournament, upsetting Saint Joseph's and Wake Forest in the first two rounds. Syracuse looked great in their second half comeback against Oklahoma State in the second round. Carmelo Anthony is a thoroughbred and I love that Gerry McNamara. Plus, they're practically playing in their own backyard.

Pick: Syracuse

Thursday, March 27, 2003


After three long painful days off, the NCAA Tournament resumes today. Since I failed to recap the first weekend results, I've decided to preview the Sweet Sixteen games and include my assessment of the tourney thus far. We'll start with today's games.


[5] Wisconsin (24-7) vs. [1] Kentucky (31-3)
7:10 PM ET Minneapolis, MN

The Kentucky Wildcats have carried their regular season and conference tournament dominance right into The Big Dance. It's been so long since they lost, they have a lot of people believing they may be unbeatable. This is a team that went undefeated in SEC play during the year, plays unselfish basketball, has a nice inside-outside balance and a reliable go-to player in Keith Bogans, and boasts the stingiest defense in the nation. Maybe they are unbeatable.

Wisconsin showed some serious survival skills by coming away with a second round victory against Tulsa. A bounce here, a bounce there, and it very well could have been Tulsa playing against Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, after they took out Dayton, a weak four seed in the first round. Wisconsin played a solid game in round one against Weber State, a dangerous team that knows how to pull off first round shockers, upsetting Michigan State in 1995 and North Carolina in 1999. As usual, the Badgers play great defense, but they've also been very aggressive on offense, frequently taking the ball to the hole.

Because both teams play such good defense, this one should be close for awhile. But I expect Kentucky to pull away and win fairly easily to claim their rightful spot in the Elite 8.

Pick: Kentucky

[3] Marquette (25-5) vs. [2] Pittsburgh (28-4)
9:30 PM ET Minneapolis, MN

As a number three seed, the Marquette Golden Eagles were favored to reach the round of 16. Despite that, I don't think a lot of people expected to see them here. They played a tight first round game against upset-minded Holy Cross and survived, then needed overtime to beat Missouri in the second round. In the overtime, the basketball nation got a chance to see why Marquette is a special team. Coach Tom Crean drew up some smart plays and the Golden Eagles executed them to perfection, hitting all of their shots in the overtime period to finally put some distance between them and the pesky Missouri Tigers. Travis Diener has been sensational shooting the ball in the tournament thus far, and Marquette has one of the best players in the country in Dwayne Wade.

I really think Pittsburgh got shafted in this tournament. I believe by winning the Big East and hovering around the top five all season long, they deserved to land a number one seed and stay home to play in the East. Instead, they were completely disrespected by being given a number two and placed in the same region as tourney favorite Kentucky. So far, the Panthers have wiped out Wagner by 26 points and blown out Indiana by 22. They' held six of their last seven opponents under 60 points, giving up 61 to Wagner in the opening round. Pitt's defense just may be as good as Kentucky's. And they have size and speed.

Both of these teams have something to prove and because of that, I think this is going to be a great game. It's a tough one to call, but I'm going to go with Pittsburgh to pull it out and set up an outstanding matchup with Kentucky in the Regional Final.

Pick: Pittsburgh


[5] Notre Dame (24-9) vs. [1] Arizona (27-3)
7:27 PM ET Anaheim, CA

The Fighting Irish are lucky to be in the Sweet Sixteen. Wisconsin-Milwaukee had a great chance to win that game, getting a shot from the paint to win it, but as their coach Bruce Pearl said, "The ball just didn't go in." Hence, the fifth-seeded Irish avoided losing to the twelfth-seeded Panthers and moved on to the second round. There, they controlled the game against Big Ten tournament winner and weak four seed Ilinois and came away with a 68-60 victory to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in 16 years. Chris Thomas is the heart and soul of the team and Torin Francis has rebounded the ball extremely well in their first two games, but Notre Dame relies on the outside shot to win games. If their shots aren't falling, this game could get ugly.

Arizona is also lucky to be in the Sweet Sixteen. In the best game of the tournament so far, the Wildcats outlasted Gonzaga in double overtime in their second round game. Both teams showed tremendous heart in a game that felt very similar to a heavyweight fight, and Arizona has got to be feeling as if they have a shot at the title after coming away with a victory. Gonzaga outmuscled Arizona and continuously beat them to the offensive boards. Arizona is stacked with Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, and Channing Frye. Notre Dame doesn't seem to possess the weapons to give them a war like Gonzaga did.

Notre Dame should be pleased that they made it this far, because it doesn't look like they're going any further. It could be close if the Irish are hitting the three-ball, otherwise Arizona should win comfortably.

Pick: Arizona

[3] Duke (26-6) vs. [2] Kansas (27-7)
9:50 PM ET Anaheim, CA

The Blue Devils are coming off what might be their best performance of the season. They shot 62% from the field and did everything right in demolishing Central Michigan 86-60 in the second round. Central Michigan had upset Creighton, the number six seed, soundly in their opening round game, but couldn't keep up with the hot-shooting Dukies. However, their big man, sever-footer Chris Kaman had 25 points and 10 rebounds against Duke and looks like he should be a pretty good NBA player. Duke struggled in their opening round game against Colorado State, but this team seemed to grow up against Central Michigan. Dahntay Jones and Chris Duhon bring a lot of big-game experience, but other than that, this is a young team. I think freshman J.J. Redick may be the X-factor in getting past Kansas. He seems to ignite Duke's offense with his shooting, and man, can he shoot. When he squares up his shoulders to the basket, it's like radar lock. Count it. If he knocks down some trifectas and gives them momentum at key points in the game, this young Duke team could find itself in the Elite 8.

The Kansas Jayhawks badly want another shot at Arizona. In a late-January game in Kansas, the Jayhawks were killing Arizona until the second half started. Arizona came all the way back to win that game and proceeded to go on a long winning streak. But before Kansas can get their rematch, they have to beat Duke. No small task. Kansas was tested in the first round, holding on to beat Utah State by three points. But they looked great in a thirty-two point blowout of Arizona State in the second round. This is obviously a very talented basketball team that went to the Final Four last year and could do it again, but they seem to be prone to lapses in concentration. Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich are going to have to play well for the Jayhawks to win this game. If those two don't show up, Kansas won't be getting their rematch with Arizona.

This is the tourney at it's best. Duke against Kansas to potentially play Arizona for a trip to the Final Four. Kansas might have the edge in talent. Duke is a little deeper and they have Coach K. I'm not really sure who wins. I'm going to go with Kansas because of the bloodlust factor. They're out for revenge against Duke and Arizona.

Pick: Kansas

Tuesday, March 25, 2003


I feel like I had the red carpet ripped out from under my feet. Without the glitzy fashion show preceding the ceremony, my Oscar equilibrium was thrown off. On Sunday afternoon, I got caught up watching the NCAA Tournament and never even checked what time the Oscars were going to start. Shortly after receiving a call from my brother, asking me if I was watching The Awards, I changed the channel to discover that I had missed the first half hour of the show. I missed Steve Martin's opening monologue, which I've since heard was pretty funny. I missed Chris Cooper winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in my favorite movie of the year "Adaptation." After sulking for a few minutes, My Girl and I attempted to get into Oscar mode. But without the red carpet and the opening number, it was hard to settle in. Suddenly, I missed the reconstructed face of Joan Rivers harrassing the star wattage with her beyond-hacky schtick upon arrival. No matter how irritated I was in the past by Joan and her equally-talentless daughter, the pageantry of the pre-Oscar strut stimulated the buzz and set the mood for the evening. So, My Girl and I were playing catch up. We went online to find out exactly what awards we missed and dug in on the couch. But then we got hungry. We brought the cutting boards out to the living room and sliced up some onions and garlic and ginger in preparation of cooking up a delicious dinner of salmon, ahi tuna, mustard greens, and quinoa. But as we began to cook the meal, we took advantage of TiVo and paused live TV. After searing the ahi, we sat down to partake in our healthy feast and pressed play again. Within a few minutes, however, we realized the TiVo was only recording through the end of the hour and we were now so far behind that we were missing more of the live show. So we switched back to the live telecast and watched the recorded portions during the commercials. Apparently, in the un-TiVo'd gap, Eminem won the Oscar for Best Song and Barbra Streisand nearly creamed herself announcing it. We finally caught up on what we had missed and we were back in sync with the live show.

Anyone who was watching the show and not affiliated with one of the nominees in any way could tell you that the most memorable moments of the three and half hour award ceremony were Michael Moore's controversial acceptance speech following the announcement that "Bowling For Columbine" had been named Best Documentary and Adrien Brody's shocking upset win for Best Actor. Moore's rage was refreshing to see, however obnoxious he came off. Brody clearly outclassed Moore in expressing his unilateral and universal sentiments about supporting the troops no matter what your feelings about the war may be. It was truly exciting to see Brody win. We rewound the TiVo several times to catch the reactions of the other nominated actors and they were genuinely shocked and excited. Brody took full advantage of his moment as The Man, exclaiming "Holy shit" as he made his way to the podium, where he proceeded to dip and plant a wet one on Halle Berry, who presented him with the award. He even stopped the orchestra from playing after his allotted time was up and then used the extra time to make his comments about war and his friend who is fighting in Iraq. I've been a Brody fan for a few years now, after loving his performances in "Summer of Sam" and "Liberty Heights." Seeing him pull the upset over past winners Nicholson, Day-Lewis, Caine, and Cage, made my night. Ronald Harwood winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and Roman Polanski winning for Best Director continued the shocking streak for "The Pianist" and you started to feel that the momentum may even carry over into Best Picture. But, it didn't. As expected, the overrated "Chicago" took him the big prize. I'm not a fan of the film, but it didn't bother me that much when it won because there was no sweep. The acting awards were distributed nicely among films I really liked -- "The Pianist", "The Hours", and "Adaptation" winning one each. Catherine Zeta-Jones was a lock. I knew she was going to win and I actually felt kind of good for her when she did. But Rob Marshall didn't win, Renee Zellweger didn't win, John C. Reilly didn't win... For the most part, the awards seemed to be given out to the write people. I still contend that "Adaptation" was the best movie of the year and, without a doubt, should have received the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. All in all, I thought it was a surprisingly entertaining evening. At least what I saw of it. Next time, I'm going to have to get myself nominated to assure that I don't lose track of the time or screw up the TiVo or miss my golden opportunity to bag on the alien life-forms that are Joan and Melissa Rivers.

Monday, March 24, 2003


A court battle over the origin of the "Jack" character on "Will & Grace" has been called off. Max Mutchnick, one of the executive producers of the show and a former boss of mine, was being sued by his long-time friend Jack Deamer, who contends he is the basis for TV's "Jack," played by Sean Hayes. Deamer claimed that Max promised him a house and car if the show became a hit, then reneged on his promise even after receiving a syndication windfall. I'm not taking sides or claiming to know what actually happened, but I will say this, I met Jack many times during my tenure on "Boston Common" and he was most definitely a character the likes of which you base a character on. The "Jack" we know is revolutionary in his prime-time flamboyance and represents a breakthrough in television tolerance. While I don't really doubt that Jack inspired the creation of "Jack," it saddens me that this tremendous success brought such a bitter end to a seemingly strong friendship. Instead of a cause for celebration, "Jack" became a matter for litigation.


As any loyal reader of Tony Pierce knows, Tony and Anna have been carrying on a sort of e-relationship for some time now. Many times Tony will interview Anna or he'll post a conversation they've had recently. On Friday, Tony posted a transcript of Anna's press conference after she got blown off the court at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Miami. After reading it, you'll see exactly why Tony loves her for much more than just her pretty face. Talent, beauty and brains... She's got it all. You don't believe me? Read her blog.