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Yesterday and today are the two best days of the year.

No sporting event compares the NCAA tournament and no single day of sports comes close to either day of March Madness' first (real) round.

Played around the time of Passover, the Big Dance is in fact holy. There's a temple (the Owls are a seventh seed), the voice of God (Gus Johnson) and the chosen one (Jimmer Fredette), not to mention an appearance from Elijah (Johnson, Kansas' sophomore guard).

In honor of these glorious three weeks, I've decided to give out awards. But, like the tournament itself, the categories are anything but ordinary.

The Chris Kaman Award for Scariest Player: Duke's Kyle Singler - by a long shot. The guy can play; just don't show any close-ups of his face. He's blond and pale and has this creepy devil smile, which probably does more to create space than his step-back.

The Jim Calhoun Award for Scariest Coach: Kansas State's Frank Martin. He has the ability to give players (and fans) nightmares. He is a screamer, always yelling, not just at referees but at his player too. His eyes give off a fiery rage, as if he could kill the referees with his bare hands.

The Miami Heat Award for Most Hated Team: Duke and Notre Dame. The Blue Devils are always hated, and as the defending champs and a No. 1 seed, they are even more so this season. I've never liked the Fighting Irish; the fact that their star is Ben Hansbrough, brother of Tyler, the former most-hated player in college basketball, just adds fuel to the fire. Even though Notre Dame plays today, not on St. Patrick's Day, the Irish should do better than last year's first-round upset.

The George Mason Award for Biggest Surprise: Notre Dame. The squad earned a No. 2 seed despite the graduation of former All-American Luke Harangody, who moved on to take Brian Scalabrine's spot as Kevin Garnett's seat warmer on the Celtics' bench. Harangody was actually released from Boston - apparently Scal's position as the 13th man and token white guy on the Celtics was more challenging than it looked - and was demoted to the Cavs.

The Kevin Pittsnogle Award for Best Name: Cincinnati's sophomore guard, Cashmere Wright. Syracuse's Fab Melo, Arizona's Lamont "MoMo" Jones and Utah State's Pooh Williams were all worthy considerations.

The Baron Davis Award for Most Apathetic Player: UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt gets the nod as the player who seems to care the least. Honeycutt, who often looks like he could've been driven to the game in Klay Thompson's car, throws errant passes, has a horrendous shot selection and often looks clueless on defense.

The "96" Award for Biggest Tournament Problem: There are countless problems with this year's tournament. With the move to a 68-team tournament, there are even more undeserving teams. The worst of the bunch played in the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday. Some people are therefore calling yesterday and today the second round, something I will never do. The biggest problem, though, has to be the absence of Austin Peay. Nothing beats their chant of "Let's Go Peay" (It's pronounced the way you think).

But none of that matters now that the games have begun. There will be upsets and buzzer beaters, tears of joy and sobs of sadness, chest thumping and fist bumping and, best of all, Charles Barkley commentating on all of the action. I still have to figure what channel truTV is.


Search for Brian Scalabrine with Jonathan at [email protected]

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