And a Happy Friday to you all!
We slightly change our format from the usual Good News Friday today because it’s March Madness, and I’m pathologically unable to NOT write about the greatest event in sports.
Thursday was the first day of the Tournament, and while some of my bigger upset picks didn’t happen (Iona, you let me down by playing zero defense), there were a bunch of exciting games.
The game I hoped was less exciting was the first one, as my Duke boys gave me many anxious moments against No. 13 UNC-Wilmington. I said here the other day that I was a little torn because I helped cover the UNCW team for a few years in the late 1990s at my first newspaper job in North Carolina, so if they were playing anyone else, I’d have been cheering my brains out for them.
But Thursday I was terrified of the Seahawks, who gave Duke everything they wanted before the Blue Devils finally pulled out a 93-85 win. Duke found a way to win despite playing very little defense thanks to Marshall Plumlee, who had a bunch of monster slam dunks in the second half.
Amazing how far that kid has come as a player; he was completely useless his first three years.
— The big upsets Thursday were by the 12 seeds, Yale and Arkansas-Little Rock. Yale, in the Tournament for the first time since JFK was President (1962), out-hustled and outplayed Baylor. It was a player from Baylor, Taurean Prince, though, who had the greatest quote of Thursday:
— And of course, now it’s Yale vs. Duke on Saturday, in a game some mean people on Twitter are calling “the ultimate white preppy snob game of all time,” or something like that.
— One of my favorite things about the first two days is always the early excitement when a huge underdog gets ahead. When No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast had a first-half lead against No. 1 UNC, it was incredibly exciting.
— Best team I saw Thursday? Indiana. They looked dominant almost throughout. Worst team? Um, Arizona decided not to show up. Brutal effort by the Wildcats.
— Hanging in a bar watching basketball for a few hours Thursday on St. Patrick’s Day is not the best idea if you’re not drinking. Man, did I have to hear a ton of drunk 20-something douchebags spouting off about things they know nothing about. Good times.
**Next up today, I don’t know that I’ve featured my beloved New York Rangers on this blog as often as I have the Chicago Blackhawks in the past year.
That’s because the Hawks just keep doing amazing things in their city off the ice, in the community. Check out this recent video (above): Head coach Joel Quenneville, team broadcaster Pat Foley and others visit a senior citizens center in Illinois that they heard had “some really active seniors.”
They bring sticks, and pucks, and jerseys, and look at how much fun, and how many smiles, ensue.
Very, very cool. There’s a joke in here about hockey players not having teeth and seniors wearing Dentures, but this is too nice of a story to make that joke.
**Finally today, some good news on Good News Friday: Chocolate is good for you! No, really, it is.
A new scientific study published in the journal Appetite, found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week saw their memory and abstract thinking improve.
“It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains,” psychologist Merrill Elias, one of the leaders of the study, told the Washington Post.
Examining the mean scores on cognitive tests of participants who ate chocolate less than once a week and those who ate it at least once a week, the researchers found eating chocolate was strongly linked to superior brain function. The benefits, Ms Crichton told the Washington Post, would mean you would be better at daily tasks “such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time”.
Awesome. More reasons to eat chocolate chip cookies is always a good thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to work on improving my brain function and down some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.