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No Bid For Texas Schools, But Plenty Of Madness To Enjoy

Todd Taulman

Five stories that have North Texas talking (and they’re all about the NCAA Tournament, which kicks off today): Texas high school players rock the tourney, the Baylor Lady Bears are the bullies on the women’s side, kooky brackets are popping up like wildflowers and more.

If you haven’t heard, it’s NCAA tournament time! As you busily fill out your brackets and check the schedule for anticipated matchups, you may notice the Lone Star state’s flat absence. This is the first men’s tournament without a Texas team since 1977. But don’t worry: There are still five reasons for North Texans to care about March Madness:

Texans DO have star power: There are scads of ballers with Texas roots lighting up the hard court this March, and a few stars from North Texas stand out:

  • Marcus Smart is one of the best players in the college game, and he got his start at Marcus High School in Flower Mound. He’s now a guard for Oklahoma State.
  • Phil Pressey made his mark at the Episcopal School of Dallas before heading to Missouri. The point guard is the son of NBA player and coach, Paul Pressey.
  • And then there’s Marshall Henderson. The fiery Mississippi guard is known for both his skills on the court and his love of the limelight. Henderson attended L.D. Bell High School in Hurst and could have been a Red Raider, but washed out of Texas Tech earlier in his playing career.

There’s more about these players and other Texas-trained athletes in this piece by the Houston Chronicle.

Thank heavens for Lady Bears: All this moaning about Texas’ absence from March Madness doesn’t extend to the women’s tournament. Baylor is the defending national champ, a No. 1 seed and a heavy favorite to win it all. Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Prairie View A&M are also in the hunt.

The women’s games tip off Saturday. You can see the full NCAA bracket here.

We’re at least playing host: Second- and third-round games start tomorrow at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, and the madness hits North Texas next weekend. Cowboys Stadium will host a regional semifinal and championship starting March 29. The folks in charge are already deep into preparations that include adding 16,000 seats on the field itself. Check out this WFAA piece to see video of crews at work and learn more about what it takes to host.

Oh, and if you think that looks like a lot of work, just wait until next year. This is just a dress rehearsal for the Final Four, which comes to North Texas in 2014.

Alternative bracketology is addictive: You don’t care about the teams, you don’t understand the rules, and the squeak of sneakers drives you crazy. So what? If you’re more interested in an Impressionist painter face-off or a tournament of dog breeds, chances are, there’s a bracket for that. Here at KERA, we’re partial to member station KPCC’s matchup between public radio shows (The Moth Radio Hour beat The World! Really?), so trust us when we say there’s something for everyone.

Credit Mike Roe / KPCC

  • Are you a political junkie? If so, check out a website called In the Capital and its “Greatest Politico” bracket. The hilarious article that accompanies it highlights matchups to watch and upset alerts (look out for William Jennings Bryant!). A must for anyone who swoons over CSPAN.

  • TV lovers and hopeless romantics will adore Zimbio’s TV couples bracket. This high-tech matchup pits friendship duos, couples-in-the-making and established partners against each other, and as you click through to vote, you can see who’s in the lead.

  • Here’s one with a little proof in the pudding. Inside Higher Ed’s Academic Performance Tournament uses success in the classroom to pick winners. And the last two years, the winner of this academic bracket has made it to the real championship game. But don’t expect that this year: The academic winner is a huge hoops underdog: Belmont.

  • If that’s not enough to fill your bracket quota, break down and buyThe Final Four of Everything edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir. They got experts to pick brackets for YouTube videos, Bald Guys, even Cathartic Movie Deaths. We won’t spoil who won that one, but here’s a clue.

And don’t worry about slacking at work: According to new data, bosses hate March Madness a lot less than they used to. ABC News reports a survey by Office Team found just 9 percent of managers see the NCAA tournament as a detriment to productivity. That’s down from 22 percent in 2010.

But another survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reports that the bracket craze costs businesses a lot of money this time of year. At least a third of employees spend three hours of work time a day poring over the tournament. That will cost American companies about $134 million in wages lost to time suck.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.