Well, we can all lay off St. Joe’s for a while, I

The so-called “weakest No. 1 seed” is still dancing
while Kentucky and Stanford are both going home — apparently
because the NCAA Tournament now goes through the state of

On Saturday, the Crimson Tide rallied to knock off the Cardinal.
Then yesterday, Alabama’s little brother, Alabama-Birmingham,
somehow knocked off supposed title-contender Kentucky.

Also sent home were “For use as a Cinderella only”
Gonzaga — who bombed as a No. 2 seed — and Mississippi
State, who bombed as a No. 2 seed.

The Big Ten, though, is still alive thanks to the Illinois
smacking of a perennial NCAA Tournament disappointment Cincinnati.
Another year, another March implosion for the Bearcats —
something tells me Bob Huggins will have his kids skipping classes
to practice non stop until next November.

Not helping the Big Ten cause was Wisconsin, which
couldn’t ride 15,000 Badger fans to victory in Milwaukee, as
Pittsburgh told the Selection Committee where it could stick the
second-round road game. It didn’t help the Badgers that guard
Devin Harris makes Screech from “Saved By the Bell”
look tough. Seriously, Devin, stop the flop baby.

On the plus side for the Badgers, though, Wisconsin coach Bo
Ryan easily wins the award for “Scariest face made at a
referee” during the tournament’s first weekend. It
looked like he was about one questionable call away from sprouting
horns and casting the refs into eternal damnation.

While we’re on the topic, watching the Princeton-Texas
first-round game was like getting every tooth pulled out at the
dentist, minus the anesthetic. Texas had seven points after 12
minutes of play and still won the game. If it wasn’t such
taboo to turn off NCAA Tournament games, every television in the
country would have switched to something more exciting — like
Friends or … static.

The first round’s biggest upset came when 12th-seeded
Manhattan routed No. 5 Florida. Except that Florida is horrible,
and everyone knows it. The Gators had no business being a
five-seed, and the fact that they were definitely proves the theory
that, to pick tournament teams, the Selection Committee gets wasted
and throws darts at team names taped to a wall.

So now we move on to the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, the most
interesting region left is probably the East Rutherford one —
provided the arena doesn’t sink into the swamp that is New
Jersey before the teams arrive. With St. Joe’s, Wake Forest,
Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State, it’s not crazy to think the
tournament winner could emerge from that region.

The guess here is that the tournament will even out and the
favorites will start to re-emerge on the second weekend. But, admit
it: There’d be something special, and downright
rootin’-tootin’, ho-down exciting about a final between
UAB and Alabama.

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