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JERRY CROWE

March Madness kicks off a great run of sports

Text messages from press row …

March 16, 2011|Jerry Crowe
  • UCLA's Reeves Nelson hopes to give Bruins' fans something to cheer about in the weeks ahead.
UCLA's Reeves Nelson hopes to give Bruins' fans something to… (Kim Klement / U.S. Presswire )

March Madness kicks off the most interesting three-month period in U.S. sports outside of football season. …

Jimmer Fredette, Mike Krzyzewski and the rest lead us through the Final Four and into the opening of the baseball season, the Masters, the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs, etc. …

It's almost enough to keep one's mind off the labor woes threatening to torpedo the NFL season. …

Reeves Nelson and UCLA have a chance to make history: Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no team seeded seventh has won the national championship. …

Sorry USC fans, no team seeded 11th has won it either. …

Belying the myth that form rarely holds, only three of the last 26 titles have been won by teams seeded lower than third. …

How to evaluate Kemba Walker and Connecticut, as a team surging after winning the Big East tournament or a team running on fumes after winning five games in five days? …

Only three teams — Duke, Kansas and Ohio State — were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll this season. …

Four college football teams topped the AP poll last fall: Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon and Auburn. …

Unless an on-court MMA-style cage match pitting Kevin O'Neill against Arizona boosters is added to the program, the Pacific 12 Conference basketball tournament probably won't draw any better than the Pac-10 tournament did. …

Empty seats at Staples Center were plentiful last week. …

In bidding farewell to the Pac-10, which launched in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State were added, Percy Allen of the Seattle Times ranked the top 33 players in the conference's 33-year history, topping his list with ex-Arizona great Sean Elliott. …

The rest of Allen's top five: Oregon State's Gary Payton and UCLA's Ed O'Bannon, Don MacLean and Reggie Miller. …

Harold Miner was the only USC player on the list, which also included former Bruins David Greenwood, Arron Afflalo, Jason Kapono, Tyus Edney and Kevin Love. …

Speaking of Love, with little else to play for in Minnesota, he was surprisingly unfazed in dismissing the end of his double-double streak by noting, "I feel a big weight off my shoulders." …

Donald Sterling on the witness stand sounds like Sgt. Schultz from "Hogan's Heroes": "I know nothing. Nothing!" …

In a Sports Illustrated survey of NBA players asking which coach was the most annoying during games, 65% of respondents named Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic. …

A smiling Van Gundy, asked before Monday's game how he'd advise Kobe Bryant, who was nursing an ankle injury: "I'm a big Laker fan myself and I think he should sit." …

He didn't and the Magic lost. …

Derrick Rose had yet to celebrate his 10th birthday and Michael Jordan was still collecting championship rings the last time the Chicago Bulls held the top spot in the Eastern Conference this late in the season. …

Perfect sendoff for Phil Jackson: An NBA Finals matchup with the Bulls on the 20th anniversary of their first title, which they won at the expense of Magic Johnson and the Lakers. …

The first 4-0 trip in Kings history positions them to possibly win their first Pacific Division title, which would also enable Drew Doughty & Co. to avoid having to play the Vancouver Canucks until the Western Conference finals. …

The Kings won the old Smythe Division 20 years ago. …

Comparing Cam Newton to another of his clients, Ben Roethlisberger, San Diego-based quarterbacks guru George Whitfield tells the Sporting News, "I think Ben's a Hummer, and Cam is a Hummer 2, with racing stripes and a spoiler." …

Opening-day pitchers Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants were the seventh and 10th picks in baseball's 2006 amateur draft. …

The top pick: Luke Hochevar of the Kansas City Royals. …

Ex-Crenshaw High, UCLA and NBA great Marques Johnson, who annually challenges himself to see if he can still dunk, upped the ante at age 55 this year by leaping over a car a la Blake Griffin and posting the video proof at jerseychaser.com. …

Unlike Griffin, Johnson jumped over a tiny plastic model.

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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