March Media Madness will begin

March Media Madness will begin later this morning. I’ll release the results of matchups in increments of four, probably something like every half hour. You can look at the full field of 64 or see Regions one and two, or Regions three and four. You can download your own copy of the brackets, (They’re in an Excel file) and fill them out and return them via email to me. The ones you’ve sent to me won’t be compiled and listed until perhaps the end of the tourney, so you’ve still got time to fill out brackets if you wish.

So many NCAA articles here that there is no way I can possibly link to them all. Here’s a few of note. Michael Smith has a feature on Wagner head coach Dereck Whittenburg, who many feel is a rising star in coaching. Whittenburg is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the most famous plays in tournament history, when, playing for NC State against Houston in 1983, he lofted a desperation shot/pass, which teammate Lorenzo Charles caught and dunked to win the game as time expired. Jackie MacMullan looks at Pitt forward Donatas Zavackas, who, having grown up around war, spoke out before the tournament, expressing his stance that he games should not played. Jim Donaldson gets thoughts from tournament participants at the Fleetcenter on the topic of playing during a war. Karen Guregian writes about Indiana coach Mike Davis, who gets to play his alma mater, Alabama in the first round. Jeff Jacobs looks at the effect the shot blocking of UConn’s Emeka Okafor has on opponents, and its importance for the Huskies. Bob Ryan thinks that Ivy League champ Penn has a chance to make some noise in this tournament. Joe Burris has a recap of the Vermont/Arizona game, with making a decent showing for itself despite the difficulties they had in getting there. Mike Shalin previews Boston College’s matchup with Temple in the second round of the NIT. You can catch the rest of the Herald stories on the NCAA’s on their college page. The Globe hasn’t updated its college section as of this writing, but when they do, you can read the stories here.

Gordon Edes looks at another strong performance from Pedro Martinez, talks about the Martinez imposed deadline (which Pedro pretty much rescinded on D&C earlier this spring) for the Red Sox to pick up his option, and notes Pedro has a big fan in Sparky Anderson. Sean McAdam says batters beware…Pedro is back in top form. Jeff Horrigan looks at Kevin Millar, now somewhat vindicated for his earlier stance that he didn’t want to play in Japan because of the impending war in Iraq. MLB doesn’t want to play there either, having cancelled the series that was to open the regular season there. David Heuschkel looks at Jeremy Giambi, who appears to be almost completely out of the mix at first base for the Sox. Steve Britt looks at a few Red Sox fans that have made Fort Myers their year round home. A couple of Herald baseball columns are out of the free domain, as you’ll need to ante up to read Steve Buckley’s defending Trot Nixon and Howard Bryant writing about Bud Selig. Alex Speier looks at the Sox stocking up on young arms. McAdam’s notebook has some good news for Robert Person, who was added to the 40 man roster, while Edes notebook looks into the future with a peek at Hanley Ramirez, getting some time with the big club yesterday. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Pedro’s outing yesterday.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell says Joe Thornton is going to miss Robbie Ftorek, who was always there for him and in his corner. Jumbo Joe says this move will have paid off only if they win the cup. Russ Conway says the firing of Ftorek was justified. Ron Matejko looks at Mike O’Connell making his NHL coaching debut tonight. Kevin Paul Dupont says Ftorek wasn’t very talkative upon returning home yesterday. Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook reports that one of O’Connell’s first moves was to end the defensemen-playing-forward experiment with Sean Brown and Bryan Berard. Matejko’s notebook looks at the arrival of assistant Mike Sullivan. Though he was a couple weeks early in his predictions, it should be noted that not only did NECN’s Chris Collins says that Ftorek would be fired, but he also named the replacement and the coaching staff.

Shira Springer says the Celtics hope a day off can help them get their heads back into playing the way they need to. They’ll need to be sharp, playing the Lakers in LA tonight. Mark Murphy thinks Antoine Walker’s assertion that his team can still win the East is “preposterous, even naive.” Tim Weisberg says besides making more shots, the Celtics need some young legs who can get out and run a bit. Murphy’s notebook looks ahead to the Lakers.

Mike Reiss wonders if the just-released Larry Centers might be the answer at fullback for the Patriots. Much like he did with Colvin, Bill Belichick had a lot of praise to throw Center’s way when the Patriots faced the Bills last season.

Bill Griffith reports on the switch of NCAA games from CBS to ESPN, and has Jim Rice and Sam Horn lined up as part of the mix to go with Bob Rogers for NESN Red Sox pregame shows. John Howell also looks at the NCAA coverage. In The Week That Was, I’m wondering what the role of sports radio should be during wartime. It’s not in the column, but I liked Sean McDonough’s comment yesterday that he will be sticking to sports, unlike the “other sports radio station in town” as there are plenty of outlets for news, and war commentary.