NCAA, Woods Dominate Weekend Of Sports

This weekend the NCAA men's basketball tournament featured upsets and excitement. And if that wasn't enough, the world of golf provided a few headlines in the form of Tiger Woods interviews.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The weekend was not a total success for President Obama. The president had picked Kansas to win the NCAA championship, but it didn't work out so well for the Jayhawks. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now with the latest in sports.

Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi.

MONTAGNE: So what happened to Kansas?

PESCA: Well, first of all, let's note that President Obama did have the Murray State Racers to pull an upset in round one, so credit to him there. No, as far as what happened to Kansas, they got Farokhmanesh-ed. That's the short answer.

Ali Farokhmanesh is the guard from Northern Iowa and he and his teammates just played a really cohesive brand of basketball. That's a team that knows what it's doing. And even though Kansas was the favorite in that game and, indeed, the favorite in the tournament, it was northern Iowa that dictated the pace and executed a lot better than Kansas. And even though Northern Iowa is a nine seed, so they're not one of these really low seeded teams, it is the most stunning upset of the tournament thus far.

MONTAGNE: Although, is it possible that Kansas was overrated?

PESCA: For that I would say that if they were to reseed the tournament again and someone were to say we still want to give Kansas the number one seed, I'd say, yeah, I can live with that. They were a good team.

But what happened this year is even though Kansas was probably the favorite to win it, they weren't as heavy a favorite as some teams have been in years past. There are some predictive models where they run the tournament 50,000 times.

And one of these models that I saw said Kansas was about a 16 percent chance to win the whole tournament. And in years past, like last year, like North Carolina, who did win, they were about a 30-something percent chance. So as the best team in the tournament, they were a little weaker than other best teams.

But all credit to Northern Iowa, that's a team that knows what's doing. And in the next game they could win that, because they're playing Michigan State and Michigan State lost its - it looks like they lost its top scorer to an ankle injury.

MONTAGNE: Ok. So besides the upset of Kansas, there's Cornell. How is it possible that no-basketball-scholarship Cornell is right at this moment in the Sweet 16?

PESCA: How is that possible indeed? They beat the Big 10 school, Wisconsin. And how it's possible is that, coming into the tournament, the people who follow college basketball - and I follow it pretty closely - there were a couple of teams that we all liked. Like Northern Iowa and Cornell were a couple of them -but we thought that Cornell had a bad draw.

But they have shown, that no matter who you put against them, they can execute their offense. They have a shooter named Ryan Whitman - his dad played in the NBA - he can get his shot off in all circumstances. They have a seven foot tall center who's good. And out of nowhere - almost out of nowhere - their guard, Dale, has really been the third element to keep defenses honest. They are a high scoring excellent team.

MONTAGNE: Ok. Let's take a quick peek to the world of golf, which also provided a headline or two. Tiger Woods, he gave a brief interview to a couple of places. ESPN was one. Let's listen to part of that.

Mr. TIGER WOODS (Professional golfer): I was living a life of a lie. I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, as I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization, you start coming to the truth of who you really are.

MONTAGNE: Ok, Tiger Woods talking, but not entirely in tell-all mode.

PESCA: Right. He granted a couple of five minute interviews and the Golf Channel pushed it to six. And in those five minutes he was asked 20 questions. I don't know that there was much new facts that there were learned, but it's part of his process of doing more interviews before he's going to play the Master's.

The interviewers did a fine job, but I don't know what else we were expecting. We didn't get much else other than apologies and some insight the he's a very sorry golfer.

MONTAGNE: Ok, Mike. Thanks very much.

PESCA: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Pesca.

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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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