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Basketball Mania: The Final Four Is Finally Here! Bruuuce Is Coming! (Don't Forget NASCAR!)

Gus Contreras
About 80,000 folks are expected to fill AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the NCAA Final Four.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Rating this year’s Final Four teams; at least one columnist doesn’t get the “North Texas Final Four;” Bruce Springsteen performs this weekend!; and more.

Basketball nuts, rejoice. The Final Four is finally here. Fans from Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky are in North Texas for the NCAA men’s Final Four, which starts Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The championship game is Monday night. KERA talked with NPR’s sports correspondent, Tom Goldman, to get his thoughts on the team. (Yes, even we at KERA talk about sports from time to time.) “Playing in front of 85,000 people and under that massive jumbotron in Jerry’s World – it’s not quite like back home for these teams,” Goldman said. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Rick Reilly is sounding off about the title of this year’s Final Four – the North Texas Final Four. “This Final Four is not in ‘North Texas,’ as the NCAA keeps insisting on all of its brackets,” he wrote. “It's in Arlington, Texas. What the hell is ‘North Texas,’ anyway? If we have the Final Four in San Francisco, will the NCAA tell us it's in ‘North California?’”

  • The NCAA isn’t just bringing basketball to North Texas. The NCAA’s 2014 March Madness Music Festival starts today in what’s being called Reunion Park (aka the site of the former Reunion Arena.) Of course, Bruce Springsteen performs Sunday night. But there are many other groups in town: Jack Ingram, Wild Feathers, Eli Young Band and Jason Aldean perform today; LL Cool J, Tim McGraw and The Killers perform Saturday. The Wind and The Wave, Pat Green Band, and fun. perform Sunday. Reunion Park is going to be packed, so you’ve been warned. To prepare for Bruce, check out our earlier story that features his earlier NPR interviews and his recent appearance with Jimmy Fallon. In honor of the free Springsteen show, KXT on Sunday is going to play a song from each of Bruce Springsteen’s studio albums.  Starting at 9 a.m., there will be two Bruce songs every hour played in chronological order. KXT program director Mark Abuzzahab says he worked off of this list from and ignored live albums. “Bruce’s career starts in 1973, and we want to make sure we represent all eras of his career,” Mark says.

  • More than 150,000 people are expected to show up at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500. The folks at TMS like to remind us that it hosts the largest-attended single-day sporting event in the state. Duck Commander, the company featured on “Duck Dynasty,” is the sponsor. If you go this weekend, you’ll see Big Hoss, which TMS calls the world’s largest HDTV screen. Learn more about Big Hoss. During Sunday’s pre-race festivities, Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to certify that Big Hoss is the world’s largest HD LED video board.

  • A strong spring storm marched through North Texas Thursday night, slamming the region with lightning, hail as big as baseballs and at least two tornadoes. The National Weather Service reported tornadoes in Farmersville in Collin County and near Cooper in Delta County. A tornado was also reported in Princeton in Collin County. Denton County seemed to receive the worst of the hail, with scores of busted windshields and windows. In Denton, debris covered the streets and about 200 power outages were reported. Before 10 p.m., the weather service reported widespread power outages in Hopkins County. Four people were injured when a suspected tornado destroyed a farmhouse and a mobile home near Merit, about 40 miles northeast of Dallas, The Associated Press reported. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said the injuries weren't life-threatening. A Denton County Sheriff's Office spokesperson told WFAA-TV that one person was struck by lightning on Rolling Hills Drive. Look at pictures from the storm from the KERA Weather Blog.

  • And the artist formerly known as President George W. Bush is unveiling some new art today. Since he left office, Bush has devoted part of his free time to painting – everything from his dog Barney to self-portraits. Bush has his first real art show today at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. The exhibit, titled "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy," opens to the public Saturday. It features portraits of 24 world leaders, including Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama. But before the big reveal, Bush, who has taken up oil painting, will talk with daughter Jenna Bush Hager about the exhibit on NBC's "Today" Friday. Later in the day, the portraits will be unveiled to the press at the Bush library. "I think they're going to be (like), 'Wow, George Bush is a painter,''' Bush told his daughter.  But what do art critics think of Bush’s paintings? KERA’s Lauren Silverman talked with two of them.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.