March 20, 2008 8:35 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Well, here we are in Birmingham. I'm watching practices, asking dumb questions in press conferences, eating all the Cheetos at the media buffet spread, and waiting for the upsets to start happening on TV. While I'm doing Real Serious Work, Bally is living it up VIP style at the Big Dance. Follow along as he takes you behind the Madness, and hang out with his cool celebrity friends!
Bally feels really welcome, except this security dude kept staring. Like a guy taking tons of pictures of a stuffed basketball is weird or something.
Here's Bally with Rick Bender, former Davidson SID and star of an upcoming fall CBS comedy about an ordinary guy who finds himself living in a house full of supermodels. In the meantime, he's handing out media credentials in Birmingham.
Tap water is the official drink of the NCAA. Borrring!
If you've ever been to an NCAA Tournament game, you know that all the arena advertisements are blacked out. What you might not know is that there are guards who stop you from bringing in cans or bottles anywhere near the arena floor, and have you pour your drink into one of these cups. Must... protect... sponsors...
Here's Bally with an official NCAA logo towel. Not available in stores!
The governing body is using this year's Tournament to really aggressively push the new "NCAA Basketball" logo. It's even on the Slipp-Nott pads that the players use to wipe their feet before they come into the game. Someday we're going to do an entire photo essay on Slipp-Nott pads from around the country.
Here's Bally is taking in No. 7 seed Butler's practice session. He couldn't name 24 teams in the nation better than the Bulldogs either.
Damon Lewis works for the Horizon League Network, and is town shooting Butler footage for a year-end review DVD.
One of the best things about the NCAA Tournament is the buffet. "And by buffet," says my ESPN.com editor, "You mean chips and pretzels and all the soda you can drink." Exactly. But this year, they're loading up on fruit. Hold it, journalist dude, that's no orange!
In the media room, there's always a ginormous bracket that gets updated almost immediately after games are completed. Bally is drawn to scale here... it's really big.
When we went to the Atlantic Sun tournament, we showed you the mountain of sports information that a conference tourney can generate. That is nothing compared to the continent of paper that shows up at an NCAA subregional pod. There are media guides, postseason guides and game notes for each of the eight teams. Then there's the CBS postseason media guide, which is the size of the Richmond phone book, and the NCAA guidelines book.
This is the drill: You grab what you need, put it near your spot in the media work room, then put a sign that says "do not move." And then you do it all again the next day, because, invariably, the cleaning crew will move all your media guides straight into the garbage.
They won't be here in the morning, I guarantee it.
Here's our round orange buddy trying to edit legendary Sports Illustrated writer Bill Trocchi's latest mid-major column. Bally couldn't find anything wrong with it. Dude is goood.
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