Your morning roundup for March 16, the day we lost frequent Em and Dre collaborator Nate Dogg.
• Two play-ins kicked off the inane "First Four" last night. In one, UNC-Asheville's Matt Dickey, of this steal and buzzer-beater and a highly probable blood relation to this author, scored 14 of his team's final 20 regulation points to defeat Arkansas-Little Rock, 81-77, in overtime. UNC-A will get hacked to bits by Pitt Thursday afternoon.
• In the other, Clemson's Jerai Grant had 22 to lead the Tigers over UAB, 70-52. The game was never really close—which, unfortunately, proves Angry Jay Bilas right. And we hate when that happens. Evidently, Clemson won the right to be a 12-seed? We're confused, too. They play West Virginia Thursday afternoon.
• Roger Goodell, America's beloved $1 commissioner, fell asleep in a tanning bed, as the Bucky Channel notes and you can see above. He told Adam Schefter that potential top picks should not boycott the draft, as the NFLPA has suggested they should, because "it's a really special moment." But if all, say, Nick Fairley wants, is to shake hands with a bad tan/nice haircut, he might as well carry a Zippo around golf courses in Cincinnati.
• Meanwhile, NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith will speak at the University of Maryland's commencement ceremony in May. Unfortunately for Peter King, the nearest Starwood Preferred hotel is in neighboring Beltsville. And they have terrible coffee.
• Despite missing Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, the Bulls throttled the Bullets last night and took control of first place in the Eastern Conference. Despite shooting 2-of-7 from three, Derrick Rose had 23 points and 7 assists, and might just be closing in on an MVP.
• The Knicks dropped the second half of a home-and-home with the Pacers, 119-117, the third straight loss for the Knicks. Chauncey Billups was a -20 despite the close score—he was a -16 the night before. Here's when you know things are going wrong: when Tyler Hansbrough drops 59 combined points on you in consecutive games. But maybe he just comes alive in March.
• Superstar freshman point guard Kyrie Irving might be ready for Duke's NCAA opener on Friday, Coach K says. Totally cheered New Jersey up after the Situation bombed at the Comedy Central Donald Trump Roast.
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