1. Last weekend was among the most thrilling 3-day stretches I have enjoyed/endured in my 35 years as a Marquette fan.
The win over Davidson in the NCAA opener was -- in the understatement of the year -- fortunate. There obviously was skill in the way Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson suddenly started draining 3-pointers and then in Blue's game-winning drive, but Marquette received so many breaks along the way we officially gave up any right to complain about not getting breaks the rest of the tournament.
Two nights later, Marquette and Butler went at it in a spectacular college basketball game, the kind of sporting event that makes this time of year my absolute favorite. My lads again got a lucky bounce or three but mostly they imposed their will in the second half and thoroughly deserved the victory. Again, Blue was the star.
So it's back to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year. Among the schools that can't make that claim: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA, Wisconsin, Illinois, Syracuse, Michigan State, Arizona, UConn and Louisville.
In other words, it's a pretty special accomplishment.
Roberta and I have decided to celebrate the achievement by making the 6-hour drive to Washington to watch Marquette take on Miami in the Sweet 16. Just bought our tickets and booked our hotel. It was a spontaneous decision, the kind I rarely make, but what the heck? Maybe with us cheering them on from the nosebleed section of the Verizon Center, the Golden Warriors will advance on to the Elite Eight and the Final Four.
Whatever happens, it's been an amazing ride.
2. One of the linebackers the Bears signed to replace the departed Brian Urlacher was James Anderson, formerly of the Panthers. At this stage of their careers, Anderson is a better player. Also, less likely to get hurt. And less likely to say something idiotic.
3. Tiger Woods still has to win a major to prove he's TIGER WOODS! again, but he looks as good now as he did the last time he was great, 2008.
4. It's strange to be totally isolated from baseball. Spring training used to be one of my favorite assignments, especially after I became a columnist and could call my own shots. I doubt I could name 10 players on either the Cubs or White Sox now.
5. Marquette has authored just one of several crazy stories so far in the NCAAs. Top teams such as Indiana, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Miami have struggled to win ... but at least they did win. The same can't be said for Georgetown, New Mexico and St. Louis, each among the darlings of the supposed experts who try to forecast Final Four teams. Gonzaga, as usual, was proven a fraud from a weak conference. Oregon and Arizona have given the supposedly pathetic Pac-12 as many Sweet 16 representatives as the SEC and Big 12 combined. Either LaSalle or Wichita State will make the Elite Eight. Wow.
And Florida Gulf Coast ... are you kidding me? Have you seen this team play? Entertaining, athletic, fast-paced, high-flying and, most importantly at this time of year, victorious.
Here's a squad that has lost to Maine, Mercer, East Tennessee State, Stetson and Lipscomb -- twice! -- yet it absolutely destroyed Georgetown and handily beat San Diego State to be one of the 16 teams still standing. Ridiculous.
Can the Eagles beat Florida? Logic would say not a chance. But since when has logic meant anything in the NCAA tournament, especially this year?