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CHICAGO -- Things got under way today in the United Center with UNLV's 67-63 win over Georgia Tech, the Rebels' first NCAA victory since the 1991 West regional final (that team then lost to Christian Laettner-led Duke in the Final Four). In the second game, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has stunned Wisconsin by taking a 15-2 lead and maybe that's a good omen for Niagara wit…

If Niagara found a way to defeat Kansas tonight, it would go down as the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Eagles would become the first 16th seed to defeat a No. 1 since the tourney went to 64 teams in 1985. They would be the talk of the nation. Even I would be hard-pressed to overdo the emotion in the column. There's almost no chance of it…

Let's get this straight: At season's end sophomore point guard Greg Paulus was the least of Duke's problems. Oh, yes, I'm aware of the criticisms that haunted him throughout the season. He tended to force too many passes. He wasn't a scoring threat. During a timeout in a January game against Virginia Tech coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled him aside and gave him a quick refres…

     Zelton Steed, the lead official in the VCU-Duke game, was subjected to a relentless tirade from a fan during a timeout with 7:46 remaining in the first half. When Steed declined to acknowledge the rant,  the heckler moved closer to courtside and continued to vent his frustrations, although what exactly had perturbed him so much couldn't be clearly …

CHICAGO -- Here are some leftovers from open practice day in the United Center: --Niagara media relations director Michele Schmidt spent most of the Purple Eagles' practice with CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. Several players and Athletics Director Ed McLaughlin spoke briefly to the network's No. 1 team and coach Joe Mihalich spent time with them as well. ---N…

CHICAGO -- There are more than 400 reporters credentialed for the United Center subregional, the most of the eight NCAA Tournament sites. The press room here is a mob scene, largely because of the presence of Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Villanova. Players are ushered through a back hallway behind curtains to get to the dais in the interview room. But Niagara brought …

- Former Bill Ruben Brown was in HSBC Arena ready to cheer on Pitt in Thursday's second game, with his Pitt skull cap and matching tie. He told me he's going to play in Chicago for another season before deciding on his future. - That collective yawn you heard coming from the arena was because the Butler-Old Dominion game was of the Rip Van Winkle variety. A buddy of mine …

Pitt, Old Dominion and VCU all practiced at the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena prior to their first round games on Thursday. Pitt, if you recall, played UB in Alumni back in December. Speaking of practice, Duke worked out on Christian Laettner Court at the Nichols School on Tuesday afternoon. - Faces in the crowd for Thursday's first session: UB football coach Turn…

I can't say I'm very optimistic about Niagara's chances in the first round of the tournament. Kansas probably has the most talent in the whole field. The statistics make it very clear how daunting a task Niagara has here in Chicago. In its 30 wins, Kansas outrebounded its opposition by eight a game and gave up only 12 offensive boards a game. They shot 50 percent from th…

In the Maryland-Davidson game, Davidson's Stephen Curry was gasping for air for much of the second half because D.J. Strawberry made him work for everything. By my count, Curry only got two clean looks at the basket in the final 20 minutes because Strawberry was draped all over him. Not to take anything away from Curry - he scored 30 points and received a standing ovation…

The Buffalo subregional has officially tipped off with the start of the Davidson-Maryland game and here are some early thoughts: - Davidson's Stephen Curry is better than advertised. His three-point range has been well documented, but his passing is underrated and he has a good feel for the game. He could have played point guard in a high major program. - After D.J. Stra…

Stanford is getting cranked by Louisville, 34-12, after just 13 1/2 minutes today. The Cardinal was one of the last at-larges selected, despite a dubious profile that included four losses in its last five games. What do you think the folks at Syracuse and Drexel are thinking when they see that score? ---Mike Harrington

CHICAGO -- With Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Villanova all here, the NCAA has said there is more media at this subregional than any of the eight sites. The No. 1 CBS crew of Jim Nantz and Billy Packer will be calling games in the United Center, including Friday night's Niagara-Kansas matchup. There are also so many Kansas fans here that the school can't handle a pregam…

       So Niagara was relegated to the play-in game. And having survived, the Purple Eagles now meet Kansas, the tourney's overall No. 1 seed. All of which means the, ahem, esteemed selection committee considered Niagara one of the two weakest teams in the field.        Interesting that those who set the lines in Las Vegas, those wh…