“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines

“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.

Remember when Wells Fargo Arena and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005?

Remember when people complained about paying $6 for a beer at Wells Fargo?

Remember when the Polk County Board of Supervisors had that ridiculous iron-clad contract to put an AHL team inside Wells Fargo?

Remember when people expected Wells Fargo and Des Moines to land a NCAA men’s tournament game right away?

Funny how we forget those moments. People stop complaining about the price of beer. It’s cheaper than venues like Solider Field and Yankee Stadium.

After the first fiasco of having an AHL team, the Board of Supervisors finally got it right by having the right owners and an affiliate that was in the region (Minnesota Wild).

And all that talk about never getting to host March Madness?  That debate ended today.


This morning, the NCAA has announced that Des Moines was selected as one of eight cities to host the first and second round games for the 2016 Division I men’s basketball tournament…aka March Madness.

Yes…our city. How about that?

See what patience and proving doubters wrong can do?

Des Moines was ready for this moment to come. It took a few “no’s”, but here it is.

This is why the IAHSAA and the IGHSAU moved their tournament dates up a few weeks early, much to their displeasure.

This is why Des Moines was willing to host the NCAA Track and Field Championships, the women’s basketball early and regional rounds, Iowa State hosting the volleyball regionals, and the coup d’etat, the NCAA wrestling championships in 2013.

And not to mention, Des Moines has hosted the AAU Junior Olympics the last few years as well.

This is why after listening to what they needed to do to improve their chances at hosting the men’s tournament, Des Moines, quietly and patiently, worked diligently to put as many of the pieces together. A new hotel will be built next to the Events Center complex in the next two years.

So that excuse of not having a hotel on site can no longer be used as an excuse by the NCAA or anyone else.

This news even surprised WHO-TV’s Andy Fales, who thought Des Moines was going to miss out, yet again:

…after the announcement:

The more you doubt a person or something, the more they can prove you wrong.

The credit goes to the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and others like Iowa State, Drake, and sports fans. We earned this. We proved that anything can happen…patience is a virtue.

Is hosting a major national sports event still a “useless folly”, Mike Draper?  I didn’t think so. The CVB just got scoreboard.

That also goes for those who will continue to find ways to player-hate on Des Moines. You can quietly exit stage left.

The haters are not going to ruin this day for sports fans. We’ve waited for a long time for this to happen. When 2016 arrives, it’ll be 44 years since March Madness was held in an Iowa venue (Hilton Coliseum hosted the 1972 Midwest regionals).

There are a few other things I want to add about the news (for one, it’s long overdue for the NCAA to find new cities to host tournaments), but for today, it’s a good day to see that the work towards getting March Madness paid off.


March Madness: Survive and Advance

March Madness
March Madness has arrived.

The brackets are out, the teams are paired up, and the debate over who “deserved” to get in or not is now underway on ESPN with Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas.

We can analyze and over-analyze this until we run out of rationale and hypothesis for every team.

Here’s the one advice I have for your team: play the team in front of you. Screw everything else.

That’s all. It’s not about the seedings, how you finished during the regular season, or who you played during the season.

After Sunday night, all of that goes out the window.

For most teams, the Big Dance is a way to redeem themselves, or reaffirm who they are. For Louisville, a chance to defend their national title. For Syracuse, a restart to what was a strong run that went south at the end of the season.

March Madness
Can Doug Gottlieb have his cupcake and eat it as well? Wichita State would like to make him eat his words too.

For Wichita State, an incentive to shut up the doubters (oh Gottlieb…). The committee did them no favors by sticking them in the Midwest (aka the Group of Death). For ISU, a chance to show what they’re capable of, and for Iowa, an opportunity to make right after a sour ending to the Big Ten season…and a very important reason to play inspired.

Similar to bowl season for college football, you get that extra practice and time to extend your season. Everyone is now 0-0 as the First Four (rudely known as the play-in game) begins.

For nearly all of the teams, the seedings mean little to them. They’re in the Big Dance. That’s all that matters. And we should have that mindset as well as fans.

Survive and advance.

Damn the seeds, strength of schedules, and all of the other stuff.

Play the team in front of you.

The Madness begins this week, if we can’t get through St. Patrick’s Day first.

It’s going to be a long fun week.

The Greatest One Hour of the Year

Need I say more? 

In case if you were unaware, there are lyrics (yes lyrics!) to the CBS College Basketball theme.  Sing-a-long with the older version of CBS’ theme. 

Come on and watch some basketball,

you’ll watch it all… day… long…

Come on and watch some basketball,

til’ your pool sheet is done! ..

Come on and watch some basketball,

it’s got it all…Tour-na-ment Madness …

Throw in a few parlays, Gambling is fun!…

Walton and Wooden own the court,

don’t try them out… you’ll….lose…

Packer and Nantz call all the games,

just watch… Billy be wrong…

Come on and watch some basketball,

your wife is mad… send..her out shopping…

Coach K is gay… Duke really sucks!

Sports and News Links – May 12, 2011

Jay Mariotti's fall from grace gets worst.

We’ve had some news popping up in the sports world over the past 2 days.  Let’s get to the business at hand.

  • The downfall of national sportswriter and provocateur Jay Mariotti has taken another sad and sorry turn.  Mariotti was charged with three felonies, including felony stalking, after he confronted his ex-girlfriend on the same day a court ordered him to stay away from her.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariotti was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.  He confronted his former girlfriend on two recent occasions, last September and this past April 15th. 
  • The L.A. Times also has this gem of a story.  Facebook disabled the account of Mark Zuckerberg.  No, not that Mark Zuckerberg, but Mark S. Zuckerberg, a bankruptcy attorney in Indianapolis. Facebook thought that the lawyer was pulling a joke on them with his name.  He wasn’t.  Mr. Mark S. Zuckerberg should sue the other Mark Zuckerberg, if you asked me.
  • Steve Wieberg of USA Today writes about the NCAA paying sports and entertainment marketer Intersport to “cease and desist” using the term “March Madness”.  How much did it cost the NCAA to scratch a check to Intersport?  Well, there are ($) 17.2 million reasons why the NCAA was willing to go to great depths to keep “March Madness” in their pockets.  Cha-ching!
Regardless how the Lakers lost to Dallas and your opinion of the guy, Phil Jackson was more than a coach. He knew how to manage people and press buttons to win 10 NBA titles.
  • Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business puts Phil Jackson’s legacy in a fair and balanced perspective.  But does it mean that the Zenmaster is done coaching?  Well, for all intenstive purposes, he is calling it a career as the Lakers’ head coach.  Noticed I said “Lakers”.  Golfing has never been Phil’s forte.
  • NHL’s bad boy enforcer Sean Avery of the New York Rangers did a TV ad in support of gay and lesbian rights.  No big deal, right?  Well, not for an obscure sports agent by the name of Todd Reynolds of Uptown Sports Management, who represent other NHL players.  Reynolds felt the need to tweet his “sadness” towards Avery for his misguided support for gays and lesbians.  When pressed to answer why he would tweet that comment, Reynolds tweeted that he wasn’t “intolerant of gays and lesbians” (which is translation for “I don’t mean to offend anyone, but…I’m going to offend anyway) and then a Canadian sportscaster, Damien Goddard, jumped in the fray with his tweet defending Reynolds comments.  Goddard was canned on Wednesday afternoon by his employer, Rogers Sportsnet.

As my fellow Wartburg alum Tom Buchheim have said, athletes need to be careful what they tweet.  The same goes for agents and media personnel.  I’m glad to know that Emily Carlson of WHO-TV will not have that problem!

And I didn’t mention my man Gus Johnson.  Mr. Rise and Fire will be taking his talents to Fox Sports.   That was not cold-blooded.  It’s called business.

That’s it for now.

March Mad-links: March 12, 2011





Coach Jim Miller and his Wartburg Knights won their 8th Division III national title Saturday night. It's their 6th title in 9 years. (Mark Atkins/Wartburg Sports Information Dept.)


When you start hearing yourself scream or jump out of your seats over the past couple of days, you know that the most exciting time of the year for sports fans has arrived:  March Madness in college basketball. 

I hope everyone was able to get adjusted to Daylight Savings Time (in case you forgot, move your clock ahead one hour), because it’s time to get linked in for some Sunday reading before the NCAA Division I-A basketball tournament field is announced tonight at 5pm CDT. 

  • Tom Buchheim, fellow Wartburg alum, follows the evolution of sports and social media on his blog titled Fourth and 140.  His latest post is about how social media has helped NCAA Division III athletics in sending out updates and engaging fans during its 2011 Division III wrestling championships in LaCrosse, Wisconsin this past Friday and Saturday.  Tom highlights how Wartburg’s sports information director Mark Adkins keeps fans posted on the scores of each match and the team race.  (Side note:  Wartburg won their 8th national title on Saturday.  The last time a school not named Augsburg or Wartburg won the title was Ithaca in 1994). 
  •  Mike Vorkunov of New Jersey Newsroom’s “Pressbox” sits down with ESPN college hoops analyst Jay Bilas and ask him how does Bilas balances his work with ESPN with his “real” day job as an attorney.  Bilas graduated with a law degree from Duke after his playing career. 



Jay Bilas, in his playing days, at Duke.


  • Mark Kreidler of ESPN files this column about Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl and his battle against neck and throat cancer.  Often irascible and known for being a pest as a player and as a coach, Karl is accepting a new role of offering hope to survivors of various forms of cancer.  The Nuggets signed Karl to a three-year extention earlier this week. 
  •  The popular sports business reporter Darren Rovell of CNBC suggests that additional salary penalities should be invoked when coaches are suspended.  He makes his case after Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel (aka “Sweater Vest”) is suspended for two games and is fined $250,000 for lying to the school and the NCAA for withholding information on several of his players selling football jerseys, helmets, etc. in exchange for tattoos. 
If there is anything the NCAA hates, and it's people who lie to them. Jim Tressel has now joined Tennessee's Bruce Pearl in the doghouse.
  • John Infante of the insightful and well respected Bylaw Blog says that the media’s involvement in investigating cases like Tressel and Ohio State, and Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl, is helping compliance officers in getting to the bottom of wrongdoing and rule breaking within athletic departments.   

That’s it for now, but before I go, I know you want to hear Gus Johnson‘s call at the end of the Washington vs. Arizona Pac-10 championship game again from CBS.  The Power of Gus continues to grow, my friends. 


The Science of Bracketology

His nickname is Joey Brackets.

He loves making predictions.

This is his favorite time of the year.  People love him or hate him, but when he pops his head on your TV set, everyone stops to watch him.

He’s not a political pundit or a dabble with a mystery ball.

Joey Brackets is obsessed with a science called “Bracketology.” He even teaches a college course on it.  Seriously, there is a class on Bracketology.


Joe Lunardi, the man behind Bracketology

Joe Lunardi has created a niche and a brand out of studying teams, their schedules, and how well they play as the NCAA tournament approaches.  It’s all trends:  who’s stumbling, who’s rising, who needs to win, and who can’t afford to lose.

ESPN leans on every word he says because his track record (allegedly) is solid.  Nevertheless, Lunardi loves this time of the year.

This is where he makes his money and people find out who he is.