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Monday Happy Hour has been snappin' for years

March 23, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; A tribute to Trayvon Martin is written on the shoes of Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) before the game against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
March 23, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; A tribute to Trayvon Martin is written on the shoes of Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) before the game against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

The field in the NCAA tournament has once again been winnowed down to just four teams, and it was not a particularly kind weekend to the Big Ten which saw upset bids by both Wisconsin and Indiana fall short against powerful one seeds, and Michigan State go belly up against the powerful defense of Final Four bound Louisville. The conference will be represented next weekend by Ohio State, who beat Syracuse to earn a date with Kansas next Saturday. That will be opposite a Louisville vs. Kentucky matchup. Even though Michigan isn't involved, it should be a good weekend of basketball.

To the links:

Touch the Banner: Recruiting Update: March 26, 2012 - TTB runs down the move on the recruiting board and the weekend's vistors.

On Losing, Coping, and the Meaning of This

Single-elimination hockey is Fate neutered, in which the thing that actually happens seems off, askew even, like a picture on the wall that has fallen to either side. A degree off-center. Bizarro. More so than anything else, the NCAA single-elimination format takes Fate, capitalized, and sends it through a grinder and a furnace, in the process revealing that Fate is not really a crystallized absolute but a collection of individual possibilities, flecks of charred, hardened reality. All it is is survival; the fleck that makes it through is the one that is. That's it. It's a little unappealing, isn't it?

Holdin' the Rope on Michigan hockey's tournament exit and season as a whole.

Ricky Barnum, the Michigan football team's newest center, developing rhythm with QB Denard Robinson - Barnum, option number one at center for the Wolverines, has been working with Robinson for a long time. The two originally bonded because both were Florida transplants.

Recruiting Notebook: All-Star Events, Spike Albrecht, more - UMHoops on news surrounding Michigan's current commits and possible targets now that space has opened up on the roster.

And Malik Zaire Makes Five (In 2013) - Pre-Snap Read talks about Notre Dame's quarterback situation in light of the Irish's latest quarterback commitment.

Score another one for preseason ratings - KenPom looks over how well preseason rankings held up going into the Final Four and contrasts it with the end of season polls.

Now, two pieces from The Classical.

Anthony Davis In Space

In the nineties, the sport was restricted by the man-to-man edict. Attempts to shade or shift defensive help toward an operating post player would get whistled as "illegal defense." The NBA opened defenses in the 2001-2002 season, despite an intense anti-reform lobbying effort from Pat Riley and Rudy Tomjanovich. Coaches slowly warmed to their new defensive dimensions, a movement that ran parallel to the more publicized new wave of fast-paced, guard-driven offenses. Perhaps this defensive shift was muted because guarding an area was arbitrarily stigmatized as an unmanly abdication of responsibility; it also took a while for coaches to adjust.

Three Short Essays About LeBron, Trayvon, Hoodies and Hope

But that’s our discourse, that is broadly us, and also that is this particular terrible thing. There just isn’t anything to do about this, finally. There’s no solving it. There’s barely any engaging it, even. My every return to it starts with an attempt to find some undiscovered thing that might somehow prevent this from happening again, and ever return ends at the bottom of the same hole—what happened in Sanford should never have happened, but there is no way it can ever un-happen, and so here we all are. You and me and all the basketball players we know.

-David Roth

The spotless must be hiding something; those blemished in the least, like Trayvon Martin was by his hoodie, are orange-alert monsters emerging from their cocoons. Simply mourning Martin, as James did on sneakers this past Friday, is one thing. But the hoodie picture embraced the very symbol that cost Trayvon his life. LeBron James went on record as saying it's okay to be a black teen, and dress that way, in America.

-Bethlehem Shoals

Yet, while David's right to note that the Heat team photo and similar images are heartening because they broadcast a humanity we all felt in reaction to what happened to Martin, the relevant issue for them is personal in a way that three Jewish writers can never understand. The connection isn't just that Martin and these athletes are African-American, but that they're all black men who at some point in their lives have been discussed as threats to a particular way of life simply for how they dress or look. No one has ever tried to shoot LeBron James, but he has been vilified in scenarios inflected by his race. I don't wish to equate the two experiences-one obviously had a more horrific outcome than the other. Still, people can connect to another's experience even with a difference in degree.

-Eric Freeman

Powerful stuff.