March 18, 2009 2:30 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Let's get this out of the way: it's not the Opening Round, because that implies there's a "round." It's one game. And it's the Play-In Game, a/k/a the Notorious P.I.G., because it's for true mid-major players. And Bally... well, he's the P.I.G. P.O.P.P.A.!
Bally loves going to the P.I.G. every year! It's in Dayton, which is the capital of Hoops Nation. That's because Dayton is a town that loves all college basketball; no matter who's playing, they'll show up and cheer! More than 11,000 people showed up last night to watch Alabama State and Morehead State play!
This is Alabama State's band. The SWAC is 0-4 in Play-In Games now, but that's because band performances don't show up in the boxscore. At the third media timeout of the first half, Alabama State dropped a devastating arrangement of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like," and the game was pretty much over after that.
If Bally wants to enjoy a nice tall glass of horchata while watching the 2009 NCAA Tournament, he'll have to sip from the "official cup." This concept is not new -- for the past several years, anybody stepping out on the floor had to pour their beverages into a 12-oz. cup that featured the logo for Dasani water. This time, it's a little more clear. Like, in 48 point type.
The NCAA has had a longstanding policy of banning all ad messages in Tournament venues... visitors to past games may remember that all commercial signage are covered with giant black baggies, and the big Dasani tanks behind the benches didn't actually carry the brand name, just the unmistakable blue and green color scheme and Dynamic Whatever Device.
The part with the black bags still holds... but there are huge purple and white Vitamin Water tanks that clearly say "Vitamin Water" on them. Vitamin Water is a Coca-Cola product, and Coca-Cola is an official NCAA "corporate champion." There are also rules about these giant tanks. According to sources with knowledge of NCAA policy, the tanks must be positioned behind the head coaches at the beginning of the game for maximum exposure for the product. Get used to it -- this slippery slope is covered with Vitamin Water.
This was the final score in the basketball game. Alabama State didn't score very many points.
Bally isn't in this picture either, but these are some nice ladies from Morehead who made the trip. Morehead State has waited 25 years since the last time it was in the NCAA Tournament. It's a great story that wasn't covered that much because someone on the other team had a funny name.
The nice folks from the South Park Tavern who always make the "GO #64 SEED" and "GO #65 SEED" (which are technically correct, because they refer to the Selection Committee's S-Curve) received the NCAA's blessing to print "Bury Louisville" on the back of the signs. There was some issue with a "Bury Kansas" sign a few years back.
After the Hornets lost, the Alabama State cheerleaders and alumni stood up as the band mournfully played the school's alma mater. It's a very beautiful song and I got a little choked up. I was quickly snapped out of it when I overheard the words of a young man nearby, a blogger representing a dotcom site who obtained a credential because of the NCAA's newly relaxed media policies. He said incredulously, "Isn't that the Black Power salute, like in the Olympics that one time?"
That's when Bally said -- and these are his words, not mine -- "Please snip off that guy's balls so he won't breed."
Then again, maybe they've relaxed the credential requirements a little too much.
We'll now open the floor to questions... please state your name and affiliation.
Good night, P.I.G.! Good night, Dayton!
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