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March Madness Day 1 Thread, UCLA Basketball Bites & NCAA Hypocri$y

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The NCAA tournament begins today. Follow the games here with other UCLA fans, take a look at news around the country about the Bruins, and see what John Oliver has to say about the NCAA.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins will tip off their 2015 tournament run today at around noon Pacific Time.  We will have another thread devoted to our game and will use this one to enjoy watching the other games with UCLA fans.  But first a few notes and thoughts about UCLA basketball and the NCAA.

UCLA Basketball

Many were surprised that UCLA made it into the tournament this year.  Others, thought that no one should be surprised that a 4th place team in a power conference was selected. One of those who did do a "double take" when UCLA's name appeared in the bracket, is UCLA great Reggie Miller.  Reggie, who played under Larry Brown for four years with the Pacers (the team that didn't draft Steve Alford, remember?), believes Brown's coaching will trump UCLA's talent in today's match-up:

Having played under Larry Brown for four years at the professional level with the Pacers, I know they’re going to come with a defensive mind-set.  They’re going to be prepared.

The controversy surrounding UCLA's pick to compete in the tournament has had many talking about and wondering, what has happened to the UCLA basketball program?  One writer discussed the opposite ends of the bracket inhabited by the two most celebrated basketball programs in NCAA history.  UCLA has eleven championships, but Kentucky is close behind, with eight, and has built the kind of program that could surpass UCLA soon.

Some, including the L.A. Times, are taking this opportunity to travel down UCLA Basketball memory lane.   Reading Bill Plaschke's article brought back a lot of memories, both magical and devastating.  Reading it also made me aware that, instead of talking about this year's UCLA basketball team, many are choosing to reminisce about the last UCLA team to bring home the trophy, 20 years ago, and Tyus Edney's "one shining moment".

I find it upsetting that a UCLA basketball team, despite our talented players, might be considered this year's Cinderella team, should we advance beyond the first game or two. If advancing makes us a Cinderella team, then here's hoping UCLA is this year's Cinderella team.  But, writing that just feels too strange, like the world is turned upside down or something.   I love our players and hope they go very far in the tournament.  It just saddens me that we have reached a place where needed to discuss whether or not UCLA should accept an invitation to play in the NIT, should they not make The Tournament.

Fortunately for this team, the doubters have provided a lot of bulletin board material for Norman Powell (video)Tony Parker (video), and our other players, heading into today's game.  Also, fortunately for this team, they have a player, Tony Parker, who can put them at ease and help them enjoy the game they love.  Zach Helfand of the L.A. Times writes:

"Sometimes," Hamilton said, "you can get uptight, you can be into yourself. Then [Parker] cracks a joke, you just have to laugh. It makes you want to play with this guy." ...

Before UCLA's light practice Wednesday, he stalked around the locker room with a video camera, posing as a reporter and interviewing teammates.

"It's a tough job," Parker said, "but it's good to ask these young kids questions."

This team has some very good leaders in Tony and Norman.  I know our Bruins will be playing with a purpose today!

The NCAA has Changed as Well

We have published many articles focusing on the hypocritical stance the money hungry NCAA has taken with regards student-athletes.  While the NCAA is concerned that paying players, or making their material lives a bit easier, will change the nature of amateur athletics, they seem primarily interested in selling all things college sports to the highest bidder.

John Oliver took a long, comprehensive, and sadly funny look at how the NCAA treats student-athletes this week.  Sometimes it takes a comedian to cleanse the waters that others attempt to muddy.  Our own warrior, Ed O'Bannon, is featured for his role challenging NCAA's policies and, in his cameo appearance, I think has the segment's best line.  Oliver's "LWT Sports" video game, also helps shed a light on the role of an Athletic Director in today's world!

Thanks to ovillarr13 (I wonder if they're related) for bringing the community's attention to the segment, and to HBO for making it available:

Warning Label:  Words will appear in this video that may bother UCLAluv's mom.

Today's Games

So with all of that to think about, let's get to today's games.  Here is the schedule of games for today:

Teams

Time (Pacific)

Channel

Notre Dame vs. Northeastern

9:15 a.m.

CBS

Iowa State vs. UAB

9:40 a.m.

truTV

Baylor vs. Georgia State

10:40 a.m.

TBS

Arizona vs. Texas Southern

11:10 a.m.

TNT

Butler vs. Texas

Approx. 11:45 a.m.

CBS

SMU vs. UCLA

Approx. 12:10 p.m.

truTV

Xavier vs. Ole MIss

Approx. 1:30 p.m.

TBS

VCU vs. Ohio State

Approx. 1:40 p.m.

TNT

Villanova vs. Lafayette

3:50 p.m.

TBS

Cincinnati vs. Purdue

4:10 p.m.

CBS

North Carolina vs. Harvard

4:20 p.m.

TNT

Utah vs. Stephen F. Austin

4:27 p.m.

truTV

N.C. State vs. LSU

Approx. 6:10 p.m.

TBS

Kentucky vs. Hampton

Approx. 6:40

CBS

Arkansas vs. Wofford

Approx. 6:50

TNT

Georgetown vs. Eastern Washington

Approx. 6:57

truTV

Use this thread to discuss issues, heavy and light, serious and comical, as you watch the first real day of March Madness.  The thing I always love about the madness, is watching these student-athletes competing with all of their hearts for that "one shining moment".

Try not to cry:

Let the madness begin!  And as always...

Go Bruins!

P.S.  I hope you have your brackets in!