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Thursday, March 24, 2005 | Living in San Diego, it’s natural to feel a little removed from the madness of March. I tried to write-in both the University of San Diego and San Diego State University on my bracket, but tears kept smudging the ink.

Like the rest of us, the Toreros and Aztecs could only watch as more than 100 teams battle for the NCAA Tournament championship and the not-so-prestigious N.I.T. title. I wonder if the survivor of the mini-Final Four at Madison Square Garden receives a set of steak knives?

The upper-echelon of college hoops cut through our beloved local losers like a Ginsu through a stick of butter this season. USD posted an inspirational 1-6 mark against this year’s Field of 65. The Toreros spent New Year’s Eve beating up on Creighton, which lost to West Virginia in Round 1 of the Big Dance. Not to be outdone, San Diego State lost all eight encounters against teams that were relishing the national spotlight long after the lights went out in Cox Arena.

Such an embarrassing lack of success is really remarkable when considering two extremely talented and respected coaches are captains of these sinking ships. Don’t worry fellas, you’ll get ’em next year!

Moving along … please grab a pen or pencil and jot down the nickname of the following universities? (See answers below) By the way, writing on the monitor screen is unacceptable.

a. Vermont

ANSWERS: a. Catamounts; b. Bison; c. Panthers; d. Runnin’ Utes

OK, everyone should be able to identify a Bison or Panther, but it gets trickier from there. Admittedly, TiVo was not set to record the episode of National Geographic Explorer that delved deep into the fascinating world of Catamounts, so I am at a loss. Turns out the kitty Dictionary.com defines one as “a large American feline resembling a lion,” is a dangerous predator.

I am waiting for Webster’s or anyone to explain the meaning of “Runnin’ Utes” as opposed to just the “Utes.” When UNLV slapped a “Runnin’ ” in front of Rebels years ago, it worked just fine, but nobody is buying into this merchandising mishap. And to think that all this time the country was duped into believing Utah was a sober state.

Through two rounds of the tourney, chaos reigned supreme. In arguably the biggest upsets in tournament history, the championship dreams of mighty Syracuse and Kansas were inconceivably shattered at the hands of the Catamounts and Bison. Other shocking developments included Wisconsin-Milwaukee reeling a pair of incredible victories against power conference favorites, Alabama (SEC) and Boston College (Big East).

Equally distressing was an erroneous designation of my last collection of run-on sentences and typos. Dubbing renowned insight as merely an opinion column is preposterous and downright disrespectful to a guy with delusions of grandeur. Name one ESPN or CBS “expert” who picked N.C. State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee to reach the Sweet 16. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Such expertise is certainly closer to irreversible truth than commentary.

Well, at least that’s what I think!

Before departing, I thought you might like to know the high horse just rode off without me. Seems fair enough considering I had Syracuse and Gonzaga reaching the Final Four. Look for Bruce Weber’s Fightin’ Illini to put a stop to all this nonsense en route to the national championship. It would be fitting to see Weber, who is still coping with the unexpected loss of his mother two weeks ago, clipping the nets in St. Louis.

Kevin Aron is a freelance writer in San Diego and outright sports junky. As luck would have it, he turned a childhood obsession into a professional career. Kevin has worked in college sports information, sports agent offices and, most recently, as managing editor of DIRECTVSPORTS.com for nearly five years.

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