AP Sports Columnist
Welcome to BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all your NCAA tournament needs.
Today, we have The Rock, the world's ugliest tie, the sneakiest coaching move of the season -- from France; what, you were expecting John Calipari? -- and the answer to the question on everyone's mind with the games that matter still two days away: Will Hef be watching in a smoking jacket surrounded by Playboy bunnies?
But first, we simulate the entire tournament so you don't have to.
When Associated Press sportswriter Noah Trister volunteered to sit in one place and watch the NCAA drama unfold from start to finish, we worried that as a Princeton man (Class of '01), he might not know some teams actually play more than one game before heading home.
So to conserve energy, we told him to skip the play-in games -- here's all you need to know: North Carolina A&T 73, Liberty 72; Saint Mary's 67, Middle Tennessee 54.
Then we offered to equip him with this http://bit.ly/13abAwQ , this http://bit.ly/XY3KSK , and one of these http://bit.ly/10fOukD .
But he took a pass and let us in on his secret instead, a website called whatifsports.com. You can simulate any tournament matchup you want there, complete with play-by-play and a boxscore, or the whole shebang in just under two hours. Let's go right to the highlights:
Creighton star Doug McDermott provides the first are-you-kidding-me moment, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bluejays a 79-76 win over Cincinnati. ... Pacific shoots 9 of 14 from 3-point range to bounce No. 2 seed Miami in the biggest upset of the round of 64. ... No. 10 Colorado beats top-rated Indiana in the East regional final (Trister: "Yes, you read that correctly"), and No. 9 Wichita State shocks third-rated New Mexico (on Malcolm Armstead's trey with 1 second left) to win the West. ... The other top seeds, Louisville and Kansas advance out of the Midwest and South, respectively.
On to the Final Four:
Louisville 68, Wichita State 58. Kansas 71, Colorado 44. (Time saved to this point: 17 days and counting.)
And the championship game April 8:
Kansas leads 42-40 at halftime, then goes on a 7-0 run to stretch the lead to 64-52. Louisville cuts the deficit to eight with 4:48 left on a 3-pointer by Wayne Blackshear. But the Cardinals don't score again. Jeff Withey scores 16 and grabs 13 rebounds to close out Kansas' 77-63 victory. Cue "One Shining Moment."
Now go here: http://bit.ly/Yqkwqk
And don't forget to turn out the lights.
CELEBRITY ALUM (OR HAZARDOUS DUTY, PART 2)
The Rock was in London the other day, doing what The Rock does, though usually not at tournament time -- walking the red carpet at the premiere of another of his everything-gets-blown-to-smithereens-by-the-end movies, in this case "G.I. Joe: Retaliation."
And man, does The Rock ever know about retaliation.
Born Dwayne Johnson, he's the son and grandson of pro wrestlers (both grandparents, in fact, on his maternal side), and the old WWF is where he made his name and boatloads of money before making the segue to the silver screen.
What many people don't know is that Johnson was also a big-time football prospect who got a full ride to the University of Miami back when the Hurricanes were pillaging everything in sight across the college landscape. Then he got hurt and future NFL star Warren Sapp stepped into his place -- think Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig -- so Johnson collected his championship ring (1991) and his degree (Class of '92), took up with the woman who became his wife and lit out for Calgary in the Canadian Football League.
"Fast & Furious" doesn't begin to describe that stint; it lasted two months.
Now fast-forward to Monday, when AP entertainment and lifestyles producer Reetu Rupal was waiting in the rain -- naturally, we're back in London now -- to find out whether The Rock, who takes March Madness very seriously, had time to fill out his bracket.
Feel free to add your own inflections, accents and gestures to the following brief conversation.
Rupal (who is British and reading the questions off a list we sent her): "Are you following March Madness?"
The Rock: "Yes."
Rupal: "And who are you rooting for?"
The Rock (nostrils flaring): "Who do you think? Who would you think?"
Rupal: The Miami.
The Rock (thrilled): The Miami Hurricanes! Exactly. We're doing amazing, I'm very, very proud of my team."
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