Memphis Tigers (32-3) vs. Bradley Braves (22-10)
When: Tonight, 7:27 p.m. ET
1. Who the Hell Is Jeremy Hunt? The Memphis Tigers media guide had this important point to make before the Tigers' season started this year: "Of all the players on the squad, [Jeremy] Hunt may hold the key to the Tigers' success in 2005-2006." Say what? Hunt, a senior guard, ran into a few legal problems in the summer and was booted off the team before play began this year. Afterwards, Memphis set team records for most wins in a season, first-ever number 1 seed, first Sweet 16 in 11 years, and the list goes on. So much for insider knowledge.
2. Who the Hell Is Laurinburg Prep? Memphis starts two freshmen, and two others are usually the first ones off the bench. Those four and one more freshman on the team started last year on the Larinburg (N.C.) Prep team that went 40-0 and won the national prep title. These boys are young, but they expect to win big.
3. Who The Hell Is Kathy Bates? Let's face it: Anybody can beat anybody in the tourney, as we have already witnessed. So let's throw logic out the door and introduce the 7 Degrees of Memphis and California, home of the movie stars: Kathy Bates was in the movie "Misery" (remember when she took a sledge hammer to James Cain's ankle?); Kathy Bates used to live in Memphis; Misery was based on a Stephen King novel; Stephen King is best-buddies with John Grisham; John Grisham's novel-turned-movie "The Firm" was set and filmed in Memphis. Therefore, Memphis gets out of the Oakland region and into the Final Four. — John Harris
1. Not So Much Of A Football School. Perhaps the most famous former Bradley Basketball player not named Hersey Hawkins is Detroit Lions tight end Marcus Pollard. Pollard played in Peoria from 1992-94. The bulky 6-foot-3 Pollard starred as an under-sized forward for the braves for two years, his final game coming in the third round of the 1994 NIT, when Bradley lost to basketball powerhouse Siena. Pollard did not play football for the Braves because Bradley has not fielded a football team in decades.
2. Like Sister, Like Brother. Candice Parker, who rattled the establishment last weekend by dunking twice in the same game (not too bad for a girl, I guess) is the sister of Bradley legend Anthony Parker. Anthony led the Braves to four postseason appearances during his time in Peoria, including the Braves last berth in the NCAA tournament in 1996. Selected 21st in the 1997 NBA draft by the Nets, Parker stayed in the league until 2000, when he moved to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, who has won four Israeli National Championships since then. I have no idea who would win in a dunk contest between the Parker siblings, but I would assume Candice would since whenever a girl dunks it s the BIGGEST FREAKING STORY EVER!
3. Bradley Has Been "On The Map" Before. And they blew it. Losing both the 1950 NCAA and NIT title games to City College of New York wasn t really that bad (the NCAA finale was marred by a no-call which to this day is still debated about around Peoria) but in July of 1951, it was reported that five Bradley players took bribes to shave points in three games during the 49-50 season. Four of the players, including All-American point guard Squeaky Melchiorre, pled guilty to the charges. Melchiorre, who was 5-foot-8 but often played center, went on to be the No. 1 pick in the 1952 NBA draft, but never played a game in the league due to his tarnished reputation. If this happens to Patrick O Bryant, I m going to be seriously pissed. — Alex Fritz