Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Moraga Madness

Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 2:10 PM

The only two national holidays celebrated on Thursday have a lot in common. The first round of the NCAA basketball tournament may not warrant a trip to your aunt's house or a game of touch football, but the similarities between tomorrow and turkey day go together like a pick and roll. Mmmmmm, rolls.



There's the TV watching, power snacking, the contentious and heated debates, and finally the overdosing on all the above to drive the participant into a barcalounger stupor by evening's end.

But who's the Bay Area's drumstick in this fight? Not Cal. The Golden Bears are battling it out for the N.I.T. crown, and if you've got a fear of crowds, swing by Haas Pavilion for tonight's game. The closest thing to a 510 team is St. Mary's College (925). The Galloping Gaels play on Friday, so their NCAA dreams will at least stay alive past tomorrow. Seeded tenth in their region, the West Coast Conference runners-up will play Miami of Florida in Little Rock of Arkansas. But there's something, I don't know, rather too prep schooly about St. Mary's, unlikely to win the hearts and minds of the greater East Bay. My guess is that Stanford, playing Cornell tomorrow appeals to a similar sporting demographic.

So, who does that leave for a rooting interest? We're not going south of Bakersfield to find our team. And East Coast bias rules out everyone to the right side of Reno. The University of California at Eugene seem like an obnoxious younger brother, so they're out. But Portland State might fit the bill.

They're a big public school, largest in the state, they've got the underdog thing going, having never made the tournament before. They've got the amusing nickname: Vikings, and amusing coach name: Bone, even amusing conference: Big Sky. They play first thing in the morning 9:25 a.m. Thursday against the number one seed, Kansas, so get to know them quickly, they'll probably be gone by halftime. So, we'll need a new team, and new set of criteria by lunchtime. Oh boy, leftovers!— Kibby Kleiman

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