Intriguing storylines decorate NCAA tournament

March is about seedings and upsets, about office pools and viewing parties. It is also about storylines.

The NCAA Tournament has more of them than your favorite reality show about housewives. This year is no different.

A few to follow now and over the next several weeks:

— ESPN will soon hire James Hintz: I have no idea who he is or where he lives or what he does for a living. But he was the only one in a national Bracket Matrix blog competition to correctly select all 68 teams in the tournament. He’s also the guy Joe Lunardi despises today.

— A potential final score: Harvard 2100, Vanderbilt 2010. Wait. Those are the average SAT scores for incoming freshmen to each university. Can you imagine the difference in intelligence between these players and the officials should any from the Mountain West Conference be assigned the game? Either way, I like the Commodores because Jeremy Lin isn’t walking through any doors.

— Boulder, Colo., sits at 5,430 feet above sea level. Translation: Any advantage UNLV thought it might own being sent to a Mountain West city such as Albuquerque is erased. The Buffaloes were 16-3 in high-altitude games this season, and their players are said to have lungs larger than that of a whale shark.

— Detroit is a 15 seed playing Kansas in the Midwest Region. The Titans are out of the Horizon League, which sent Butler to consecutive Final Fours the past two years.

What might shock you: Detroit has more McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster than the Jayhawks, meaning there could be at least one more team Shabazz Muhammad adds to his list of college finalists, assuming he can find someone to pay for his unofficial visit to the Motor City.

— There is a reason New Mexico coach Steve Alford reacted like someone stole his lunch money when Long Beach State flashed on the TV screen as the Lobos’ opponent in a 5-12 game of the West Region. Once rivals in the Big Ten, Alford and 49ers coach Dan Monson are now close friends. That, and Alford knows if Larry Anderson is healthy for Long Beach State, the Lobos could be back in Albuquerque in time to watch Saturday’s action of regional games in their own building.

— Some images never fade, including ones of Larry Eustachy hanging all over and kissing coeds at an undergrad party while clutching a can of Natural Light in 2003. Those pictures eventually led to Eustachy’s firing as Iowa State coach. He’s back now, having led Southern Mississippi to the madness for the first time since taking the job in 2004. Eustachy has battled his demons with alcohol, along with the embarrassment of being seen in public with Natty Light as his beer of choice.

— Mush call for the Madness: Take the over on any game involving Creighton, Saint Mary’s, Davidson and Florida. These teams give up points faster than Jim Boeheim will change his story on the next impending sex and/or drug scandal at Syracuse.

— Draymond Green has played in two Final Fours for Michigan State, but we’re hoping he hasn’t developed a selfish side. Green was seen wearing the net from the Big Ten championship around his neck Sunday, and given how Alford prominently displayed his own net Saturday after New Mexico’s win against San Diego State at the Thomas & Mack Center, I’m concerned Spartans coach Tom Izzo got the shaft.

— From the funny papers: Kentucky coach John Calipari’s contract includes a $100,000 bonus if he graduates 75 percent of his players. Unless someone changes the game’s rules to where you only need three players on a roster, I’m guessing this is one bump to the salary Calipari won’t often see. The nation’s best team has two seniors this year.

— Lamar won’t be around long — if it beats Vermont in a first-round game, it then gets to lose to North Carolina — but you have to hope Cardinals coach Pat Knight takes advantage of such a national setting to lose his mind again. Lamar hasn’t lost since Knight ripped his seniors for being quitters and drug addicts, which is a relatively new way to motivate players, but one I’m sure Knight’s father endorses.

— Final Four picks: Please do not break any speeding laws getting to the books to bet against the following …

Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio State.

National champion: Kentucky. I figure sooner or later, the stars have to align and allow an NBA team to win the NCAA title.

It’s only fair, yes?

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday on "Gridlock," ESPN Radio 1000 AM and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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