Welcome back to BracketRacket, your one-stop shopping place for all things NCAA.
For our final Sweet 16 edition, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim chuckles at NFL film study, author R.L. Stine marvels at the NCAA tournament's knack for mass hypnosis, Pizza Hut plans a shockingly good deal at Wichita State, a rare travel plan for the Maryland women and the tournament's interference with educating tomorrow's leaders.
BOEHEIM, THE FILM CRITIC
You know how those NFL coaches bury themselves in the film room? AP Sports Writer Joseph White reports from Washington that's just not Jim Boeheim's style.
"I'm not a big proponent of scouting, film work," the Syracuse coach said before facing fellow Big East member Marquette in a regional final. "I probably watch less film than anybody in the country. We know what we need to do. Everybody in this business knows what they need to do. It's a question of if you can execute it in the game."
That much was evident in the Orange's win against top-seeded Indiana on Thursday night. The Hoosiers just couldn't solve the Syracuse zone even though they knew what was coming.
"I always laugh at football coaches," Boeheim said. "They know every play, every position, every move that these other guys are going to make because they watch 36,000 hours of tape. Their players have no clue what they're talking about. ... I always say if the football player can do one-tenth of what those coaches know, they would be geniuses, because you can't.
"It's not what the coaches know or what you know, it's what the players know and how they execute, and sometimes it looks like we didn't coach 'em at all, you know, but we do. We do try. We do coach 'em."
Author R.L. Stine has spent two decades scaring children with his "Goosebumps" youth horror books. Stine, who went to Ohio State, is also fascinated with the way the NCAA tournament puts the nation in a trance every March.
"This is why the tournament is so brilliant, with all the brackets," Stine told AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode. "That's incredible mind control."
Stine — his latest work, "How I Met My Monster," is out this week — said he doesn't fill out a bracket and doesn't follow the sport much until the tournament arrives. But his wife, Jane, always does a bracket.
"She has very strange methods," Stine said. "Last year, she just picked schools that began with K, and she did great."
Evidently so, considering Kentucky beat Kansas to win the national title.
GATORS, UNDERDOGS AND (GASP!) BLUE DEVILS
Wendy Thomas is the red-headed girl featured in the name and logo for Wendy's fast food restaurants. The daughter of founder Dave Thomas is keeping a close watch on this year's round of 16.
Wendy Thomas went to Florida, but cheers for Ohio State because she lives in Columbus, Ohio. She even told Rexrode that, while she wanted the Gators to beat tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast in Friday night's South Regional, she would've been OK had the game gone the other way.
"I love underdogs," she said. "Everybody deserves a chance."
As for her late father, well, he liked one of the blue bloods.
"There was a time there — I hate to say it — when he did cheer a lot for Duke," she said. "But I think he did it just to make me mad."
PIZZA FOR EVERYONE? ONLY AFTER 3 MORE WINS
Three more wins by Wichita State, and it's time for an all-time college-student favorite: free pizza.
If the Shockers win the title, Pizza Hut officials have promised to feed the students in the original restaurant building on campus the Thursday after the final game.
The first Pizza Hut opened in 1958 in Wichita and the building was later moved to campus in 1986 for use by student groups. Spokesman Doug Terfehr said in an email Friday night that the chain will bring in a mobile kitchen to prepare and serve the pizzas, and open the restaurant building for students to sit and eat.
The chain would also offer a $9 pizza deal, matching the Shockers' NCAA seeding, for people who sign up online.
Any more last-second 3-pointers from Ohio State — which has won two straight in dramatic fashion to meet the Shockers in the regional final — and Wichita State students will be depressed AND hungry.
Over in the women's tournament, AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg reports, the Maryland women took a different route to get to Bridgeport, Conn., for Saturday's regional semifinal against Connecticut.
The Terrapins couldn't fly since Maryland is within 350 miles of the site, so they took the train.
"We felt like it would be a tremendous experience for a lot of our players," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I asked them and over three-quarters of them had never taken the train. To give them that experience through basketball was a phenomenal opportunity and one we really enjoyed together."
The Terps were able to spread out and held study hall during the 4-hour trip.
"The train ride was very different," Terps senior Tianna Hawkins said. "I'm not really used to all the stops and people coming and going. When I was younger I traveled a lot, but we flew."
The Terrapins will bus back to Maryland. They had sent a bus to their hotel with their gear and luggage.
A TOURNAMENT SLOWDOWN
The Flint Journal reported this week that a Michigan school district recently had to block access to college basketball games over its computer network.
The reason? People watching tournament games online last week slowed the Genesee Intermediate School District network so much that it prevented students from viewing online material at school.
Perhaps not coincidentally, it happened the same day Michigan and Michigan State opened tournament play — though only Michigan State played during school hours.
Check out this quick hitter about a man determined not to interfere with fellow Kansas fans watching the Jayhawks in the NCAAs: http://yhoo.it/YIK3hy
STAT OF THE DAY
Indiana is the latest top-ranked team from the preseason to fall short of the Final Four.
The Hoosiers' loss to Syracuse in the round of 16 marked the fourth straight year and ninth time in 15 years that the No. 1 in the AP preseason poll didn't make it to the tournament's final weekend, according to STATS.
Only three preseason No. 1s — Connecticut in 2004, Florida in 2007 and North Carolina in 2009 — have gone on to win the national championship since 1999.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"To lose a game this way, I know our guys are just crushed right now, and this will be a tough one to get over for a long time." — Kansas coach Bill Self after Friday night's overtime loss to Michigan.
Louisville 77, Oregon 69
Duke 71, Michigan State 61
Michigan 87, Kansas 85, OT
Florida 62, Florida Gulf Coast 50
Marquette (26-8) vs. Syracuse (29-9), 4:30 p.m.
At Los Angeles
Ohio State (29-7) vs. Wichita State (29-8), 7 p.m.
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