5-at-10: Friday mailbag with a ton of NCAA tournament talk, Masters Par 3 chat, brackets busted

Furman guard JP Pegues (1) tries to cut around Virginia guard Kihei Clark (0) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Let's handle our business first, and a happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.

Rushmore of TV cop duos: Andy and Barney; Starsky and Hutch; Crockett and Tubbs; and with all apologies to the "X-Files" folks, Jimmy and Bunk from "The Wire" (great show, great call but too many combos there including Lester Smooth), all the folks on "Hill Street Blues" and so many others including whomever Lenny Briscoe was working with on "Law & Order" the final spot is the lone season of McConaughey and Harrelson in the first season of "True Detective." Amazing TV.

Rushmore of NCAA first-round moments: 16 UMBC beating 1 Virginia is far left, right? Heck, Virginia may have more than one on here and not in a good way; Bryce Drew's buzzer beater to beat Ole Miss for Valpo, St. Peter's over Kentucky last year, and NC State surviving two overtimes in 1983 against Providence, because if the Wolfpack stumbled there, who knows the trajectory of this tournament.

Rushmore of people's name that have become adjectives: Einstein, Napoleon, Benedict Arnold and Darwin. (And all apologies to the Herculean efforts of Hercules, but I'm not sure he was real)

Rushmore of best scenes from "The Godfather" and this one was nearly impossible: Horse head in Waltz' bed; the Sicillian message in the package that Luka Brassi sleeps with the fishes; the baptism scene as Mike's men handle all the family business (including Mo Greene getting one in the eye) and maybe the best scene of them all when Mike is lighting the cigarette for Enzo outside the hospital when McCluskey's men are coming to finish off the Don. (If you remember, Enzo, the baker, was shaking so much he could not work the lighter, Michael calmly grabbed the lighter, lit the lung dart, looked at his hands, and knew in his soul that this was the life we would choose. Not five minutes later, he whispered "I'm with you Pop" to Vito.)

To close the legal loop on Jalen Carter, no additional charges will be filed after his role in the racing events that contributed to the fatal car accident in January. He was fined $1,000 and got 12 months probation. He likely lost way more money earlier this week showing up out of shape for Georgia's pro day, if we are being honest.

Great week friends. To the bag.

From Drew

Jay, why did you not post stuff during the tournament? I was counting on the first round being one of those binge-Tweeting days for you.

Love your writing and keep up the great work.


As for Twitter yesterday -- well, again, with the multiple gambling emails and some evening fastpitch softball, which led me to DVRing the Auburn game, which forced me off social media -- sorry.

Got exceedingly covered up with not one but two Plays of the Day email blasts Thursday for the NCAA first round.

We will do that again today, so I am aiming to get the full list of entries of the "First 1 Out, Last One Standing" contest posted, but I make no guarantees. That said, lots and lots of you backed CoC. Some of us backed Furman. I don't think anyone backed Princeton.

Speaking of that: Do you know anyone who writes five family-oriented, internet-based primarily sports-focused columns a week? Does same person write five -- or this week more -- afternoon newsletters about sports betting and handicapping? Hmmmm.

Now, did that same person -- someone who should be well-versed in the ball-and-stick endeavors -- also have Arizona winning it all in his office pool and conversely destined to finish DFL among the four sheets entered by his family?

Yep, Yep. And oh bleep yep.

As for the NCAA tournament Plays of the Day, did the noon email prove beneficial?

The results were pretty good. Both of 1FTM picks (our best bet on the board) hit as Furman covered and won outright and Auburn delivered over Iowa in Birmingham.

As for the other 14 games, we went 8-6 against the number with two losses -- Charleston plus-5.5 in a six-point loss; Houston minus-8.5 in the second half -- by half a point. So it goes.

Still 10-6 overall against the number is making money people, and 2-0 on our best bet is better than good.

Which leads us to our next question.

From a slew of you

Jay, what did you think of the first day of the Madness?


As I mentioned, I tried to answer some of these emails, which I appreciate, in real time Thursday.

My schedule is a little more open today, and I will be more available. Deal? Deal.

My takeaways from Day 1 of the joys we call March Madness (other than my bracket being completely busted, of course):

-- Alabama is deeper than we thought, but if Brandon Miller's truly hurt, the Tide will not rise to the title game.

-- Houston is deeper than we thought, too, but if Marcus Sasser can't play, the Cougars will not claw their way to the title game.

-- Auburn looked great, and my initial statement that an 8 playing a 9 100 miles from the 9's campus is a terrible look for the committee and a disservice to Iowa.

-- The Mountain West continues to be dreck come tournament time, and (cue Doug in 3, 2, 1 ...) but as TFP UTC beat ace Gene Henley mentioned on social media the last few days, the Southern Conference is making a strong case to be among the collection of crews that is better than a one-bid league. You could have swamped the uniforms between Virginia and Furman on Thursday and not known the difference.

-- Man, Jon Scheyer has the Devils looking devilishly dominant right now. Lots of folks loved Oral Roberts as a sneaky upset call, and Duke exposed them so bad they must have thought it was playing Jim Bakker.

-- Tennessee is following the Auburn 2021-22 playbook in that until MLK Day, they may have been the best team in America, and with that said, UT looks poised to repeat the Tigers' second-round exit from last year.

-- Is Tony Bennett a good coach?

What were your takeaways?

From Mrs. Bicycle Bob

Mr. Greeson,

This is the Mrs. Bicycle Bob here. I am participating in your First 1 Out, Last One In contest; my picks are Houston and VCU. And a comment: I hope next year you will also include the women's bracket in your contest. Bob and I love college basketball (our first date, way back in the early '80s, was a Mocs' basketball game). And we like to watch the women's games as much as the men's. So, I think you ought to include them in your contest in the future.

Mrs. Bicycle Bob,

We will give it a go next year Mrs. BB. We are here for the pleasure of readers like you, so why not?

That said, I think women's basketball made a mistake by not following the bracket lead the men explored and exploited to make the men's tournament the monster that it has become.

And before you say, "Well, I wouldn't do a women's bracket because I don't know anything about it" know the following things:

-- I got half the newsroom to get in the TFP office pool after they said the exact same thing.

-- If the women had started this when the men did -- when legal/acceptable betting options were few and far between -- it could have been a much-needed springboard for the women's game.

-- And of course, I think I know a smidgen about college hoops, betting and picking games, and my men's bracket champion over the last two years -- Kentucky last year, Arizona this year -- went 0-2.

From Jim


How sweet it is! This epic comeback (by Princeton), on the same day with my contrarian pick of Furman to oust U VA.

Could we have a first-round winner?


Rub it in Jim. Rub it in.

Surprised there are not more bracket contests with seeds and reseeds. And after the first weekend shuffles.

And maybe smart bracketeers will make some sort of hybrid, multiple-layered feature when the bracket goes to 96 of whatever it will be when it expands.

Pick all the first round games, get one point each, and that score will be used for any and all tie-breakers in the end.

Then you still have a 64-team bracket when the Thursday and the Friday of the Madness really begins.

From Pat

If the NCAA Tournament is the big dance, does that make the NIT the Sadie Hawkins Dance?



It makes the NIT the "Sock Hop."

Thoughts? Someone get my copyright attorney on the phone.

From Buck

As for multiple choice Monday, which team got done the most wrong by the men's selection committee Sunday? Texas A&M.


Your point was echoed last night, as the runners-up in the SEC (regular season and conference) got a 7 seed against a Penn State team that likely was underseeded as a 10.

Man, the committee hates Buzz Williams.


Quick question. I happened to win the lottery at Masters for the Wednesday Par 3 Contest. I am sure you probably have attended that contest. Is there a particularly good place to set up chairs to watch it? I have been to the regular Masters event but not the Par 3. Any advice you have would be appreciated.


OK, I've had the great fortune to attend more than my fair shares of Masters.

Now, in more than a decade down there and likely more than 40 rounds -- including getting to play it twice, have I mentioned that lately? -- I have watched exactly one Par 3 Contest, and that was when Luke List made his debut there almost 20 years ago in 2005, and I was following him around.

And goodness knows what all has changed since then.

So I may not be the best one to ask for this actually. That said, early in the day, there is great practice viewing on the course, which will be filled with some stars but fewer spectators. (Remember the course closes early on Wednesday.)

As with all things at Augusta National, though, there is no real wrong decision.

Have a great weekend friends, and let's go Auburn. Beat Houston.