By JIM LITKE, Associated Press
Welcome back to BracketRacket, your one-stop shopping for all things NCAA on tournament game days. It's the weekend and if you're stuck at the office, please set your SafeSearch filter to "strict." Now.
North Carolina just picked up the endorsement of porn fans.
One word: cheerleaders.
A porn website conducted a March Madness survey and found 22 percent of its "basketball fanatics" want the Tar Heels to go all the way. To New Orleans, we think. And either way, they want the cheerleaders there.
Filling out the Final Four were Duke (15 percent), Michigan State (14 percent), and Baylor (12 percent). Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse split the rest the vote.
Resume normal setting.
Snoop Dogg is an Everyfan. And an Everyalum for that matter. Just about every shirt he's ever been photographed in has a number on it, but we're limiting the discussion here to sports jerseys. Pick a team — Steelers, Raiders, Lakers, Knicks, Caps, Pens, Dodgers, Liverpool, Manchester United, even UMass-Lowell — and chances are good he's flown its colors at one time or another.
This being March, Snoop was rockin' the burnt orange of Texas (No. 14) when he ran into AP entertainment writer Chris Talbott at the South By Southwest festival in Austin. But that doesn't mean he's picking the Longhorns.
Or sharing his bracket with just anybody.
Or even saying whether he filled one out.
In quick succession, the rapper gave a shout-out to VCU coach Shaka Smart — "He's my boy" — and panned just about everyone else. "The 1s looked shaky today. Syracuse looked shaky. Kentucky got out. I ain't seen Carolina. I don't know. There's some good teams out there, some real good teams that got heart and soul, you know what I'm saying? When it comes to basketball it's about locking up. It's five on five, you know what I'm saying? If I can beat you and I can 'D' you up and keep the game close, anything can happen at the end.
This," Snoop said with a closing flourish, "is March Madness, baby."
Like we didn't know that.
CELEBRITY ALUM, HONORABLE MENTION
Of course, not everybody gets to pick which jersey they wear where. That begins the tale of how Miami Heat forward Shane Battier learned his beloved Duke Blue Devils became the second No. 15 seed to fall to a No. 2 on a wild night.
Lehigh did the deed to his alma mater in Greensboro, N.C., an upset that might have been trumpeted even louder if No. 15 Norfolk State hadn't dropped this pearl — "Missouri Loves Company — in the laps of headline writers everywhere by stunning the second-ranked Tigers earlier. Even so, the always-considerate Philadelphia fans made sure Battier had plenty of misery for company, too.
While their 76ers battled Battier's Heat team down the stretch — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — they kept him abreast of the goings-on in the Duke-Lehigh game some 450 miles to the south. Knowing their long memories and reputation for brutality — back in the day, violence during Eagles games prompted the city fathers to set up a court and a jail inside the old Veterans Stadium — Battier was reluctant afterward to repeat any of the blow-by-blow descriptions.
"The Philly faithful were very kind to give me updates the whole time," he said finally, "in the way only Philly fans can."
Can VCU get past Indiana and back to the Final Four? AP college basketball writer Jim O'Connell answers that question with one of his own. Why not?
The 12th-seeded Rams' upset of No. 5 Wichita State wasn't the shocker those numbers suggest. Anyone who watched them methodically tighten the defensive vise late in that game and force a hurried 3-point try at the end knew that. That's experience and in the tournament, it's often the only edge the little guys have. And while it's hard to believe, Virginia Commonwealth's squad actually has more of it than this group of young Hoosiers, most of whom were 10-year-olds the last time Indiana reached the Final Four in 2002. Smart, VCU's second-year coach, must have known something when he spurned all the schools that dangled offers after last year's magical run. How much remains to be seen.