Denying The Madness Of March

This weekend, Ohio State beat Syracuse and Louisville stunned the Florida Gators in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

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SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

In NCAA men's basketball, the Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes have qualified for the Final Four. Later today, two more teams will join them after Kentucky plays Baylor and Kansas faces North Carolina. With so much basketball peppered with reversals and upsets, it's hard to deny the madness of March. But, as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, most coaches try desperately to keep it at bay.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: The Washington Post says "21 Jump Street" deserves to be noticed. USA Today says "21 Jump Street" is that rare comedy that's funny throughout. Everyone's raving. Well, not everyone.

JOHN CALIPARI: There were some of the stupidest things in this movie I've ever seen.

PESCA: Coach John Calipari took his Kentucky Wildcats to see "21 Jump Street" on Thursday night as a slate of other tournament games were taking place. By going to the movies, Calipari accomplished his goal.

CALIPARI: Now, the added thing was they also could not watch the other games. The movie was awful, but it did get us out.

PESCA: Calipari's like a lot of other coaches in the tournament. They'd like to convince their teams they're not in a tournament. It's just one more basketball game, says Calipari. Lehigh coach Brett Reed plays a different mental game, posting a four-team bracket in the locker room, telling his players those are the only games in the world. Most every coach steers their players away from watching too much March Madness during March Madness. And players, like NC State's Lorenzo Brown, clearly get the message.

LORENZO BROWN: I mean, we were watching the ESPN this morning, and they were talking about us. And he told me to turn the channel 'cause he didn't want to hear about it anymore.

PESCA: Although Brown's head coach, Mark Gottfried, is one of the few who will allow the players a moment to soak in the scenery.

MARK GOTTFRIED: I wanted them to be excited. They should be excited. I've always said this is the greatest show on earth.

PESCA: Of course, NC State was a low seed that won two games they weren't supposed. Often times it's top seeds that can't enjoy the madness. After North Carolina won its second game, head coach Roy Williams said:

ROY WILLIAMS: When you go to Sweet 16, it's supposed to be a lot more fun than this, huh?

PESCA: UNC was reeling from the injury to their starting point guard, Kendall Marshall. So, in the next round, were the Tar Heels ready to enjoy things?

WILLIAMS: We got to get some joy in Mudville, because our locker room wasn't as happy as we had liked for it to be with you're in the final 8.

PESCA: Unhappy in the Sweet 16, joyless in the Elite Eight. Unfortunately, for Roy Williams, there are more synonyms for forlorn than there are rounds left to play. It seems that the teams can't enjoy the tournament until they're out of it. But being out of it seems least enjoyable of all. That's why everyone's desperate to get to New Orleans. At least one of the four teams will end the season on a win. As for the others, I hear that Will Ferrell's Spanish movie is playing at a multiplex near the Superdome. Mike Pesca, NPR News.

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