Las Vegas catches breath after 11 sports-filled days

Let’s see, we had 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven …

Wait a minute. Those are the 12 Days of Christmas.

What we had here in Las Vegas from March 6 through 16 were 11 days of live sports like we’ve never had before. It was sort of like Christmas for local sports fans, provided they had deep pockets or a cousin in the ticket office.

Four major college conference basketball tournaments (well, three and what’s left of the WAC, anyway), two NASCAR races, Big League Weekend at Cashman Field. Oh, yeah, and two World of Outlaws sprint car races out at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, and here’s mud in your eye. WoO!

So, yes, we had a lot of leaping lords around here over the past 11 days, and some speeding lords, too, and lots of drummers drumming in pep bands. Based on the low scores, we also had a lot of maids a-milking the shot clock. More than eight, I would say.

But can you remember a two-week period of live sports like the one just witnessed?

A lot of people who have been around these parts for a long time can’t.

“That’s because there’s never been one,” said Pat Christenson, Las Vegas Events president.

“We’re kind of used to NASCAR and Big League Weekend, but when you throw in the Pac-12 and the Mountain West being hotter than ever? It’s all good.”

Today, it may be like it never happened, because people are filling out brackets today, and perusing LIU-Brooklyn’s nonconference strength of schedule, and considering how many notches are there in a Sun Belt anyway?

Really big asterisk: If you saw the Oregon Dance Team shimmy and shake in metallic green halter tops, you probably won’t be forgetting that until the games start in the Midwest Region, at least.

As for the rest of it — and in keeping with the spirit of Sunday — perhaps you should take everything you saw over the past 11 days, and slot it into an NCAA-style bracket, and, this is important, try not to spill any leftover green beer or Jameson’s Irish Whiskey on it.

Not only will this make it easier to recall two of the biggest weekends in Las Vegas sports history, it will spare you the trouble of researching North Carolina A&T’s RPI.

Or what A&T and RPI stand for.

No. 1 (NASCAR Weekend) vs. No. 16 (Danica Patrick)

They may not fill all of the seats on Sunday anymore out at the big 1.5-mile oval, but they still fill about 120,000 of them. That’s like the Mountain West championship game attendance times 6 … or roughly the same number of times Danica got lapped.

No. 8 (Johnathan Loyd)  vs. No. 9 (Shabazz Muhammad)

Oregon’s Loyd, 5 feet 8 inches, bested UCLA’s Muhammad, 6 feet 6 inches, in the Pac-12 title game and matchup of former Bishop Gorman stars. I still think ’Bazz will make more money in the pros, though.

No. 5 (West Coast Conference Tournament) vs. No. 12 (A.J. Pierzynski)

Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and those other teams were first to call Las Vegas postseason home; Rangers catcher and Most Hated Man in Baseball was the first to hear Cashman catcalls on Big League Weekend.

No. 4 (Mountain West Tournament) vs. No. 13 (Larry Eustachy)

MW continued to pack them in, despite playing on hardwood apparently painted by Charles Marion Russell, the famous American Western landscape artist; Colorado State coach Eustachy says Las Vegas still is the best place to play, regardless of who painted the floor, whose arena it is, how bad these refs are.

No. 6. (Big League Weekend) vs. No. 11 (Kyle Busch)

If only every weekend could be Big League Weekend, with temperatures in the 80s; Busch 18 (No. 23 in Nationwide) ran up front all weekend, passed guys (and one gal) left, right, sideways.

No. 3 (Kelly Olynyk’s hair) vs. No. 14 (Sim Bhullar’s bulk)

This is my bracket’s Samson vs. Goliath, or Godzilla vs. Megalon, or something similar. Gonzaga’s Olynyk is much the better player; New Mexico State’s Bhullar (7-5, 355 pounds) is much the bigger player.

No. 7 (Matt Kenseth) vs. No. 10 (Anthony Bennett)

Kenseth won his third NASCAR Las Vegas Cup race on his 41st birthday; UNLV’s Bennett was blowing out New Mexico’s candles before the other Rebels stopped throwing him the ball.

No. 2 (MGM Grand/Pac-12 Tournament) vs. No. 15 (Orleans Arena/WAC Tournament)

The Grand Garden and Pac-12 were a perfect match, and Bill Walton says you should have seen the pool party on Saturday; Orleans Arena and WAC were more like the match between Drew Barrymore and that Tom Green guy, mostly because the WAC has been annulled by defectors.

■ First four out: California basketball (lost early to Utah), NASCAR qualifying (rained out), baseball split squads (temperature, Big League Weekend jersey numbers both in the 80s), Michael Lyons (Air Force star played just 1:36 vs. UNLV, injured knee).

■ Next four out: Top WAC seeds (Denver, Louisiana Tech bounced in quarterfinals), George Wallace (bounced Big League Weekend first pitch), Guys in barrels (Wyoming, Colorado each had one), Kurt Busch (barrelled over in NASCAR).

■ Totally far out: UCLA’s camouflage uniforms vs. Arizona State in Pac-12 quarterfinals.

The Bruins really should consider giving Hugh Hefner his pajamas back.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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