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It Is NCAA Tournament Time

(Explorers' guard Tyreek Duren.  File photo by Greg Carroccio, Sideline Photos)

(Explorers’ guard Tyreek Duren. File photo by Greg Carroccio, Sideline Photos)

Campbell_Bill-FEATURE-img Bill Campbell
Bill Campbell, known to all Philadelphiasports fans as “The Dean,”...
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By Bill Campbell

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is post-season basketball tournament time and it is jammed with some early drama.

It’s headlined by the Temple-UMass meeting in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Ten Tournament in Atlantic City on Friday. St Joe’s-St. Bonaventure in the same round presents a first-class double-header beginning that day at noon. The evening presents La Salle-St. Louis at 6:30 p.m. to be followed by Dayton-Xavier at 9:00 p.m. What a great basketball day.

The Hawks and the Explorers already have scored impressive victories over Charlotte and Richmond, respectively, in the Atlantic Ten Tournament.

But the big story is Drexel. The Dragons finished 27-6 but blew an automatic NCAA bid by losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA Tournament at Richmond. The Dragons saw their 19-game winning streak snapped and their future is now in the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee for a possible at-large bid. Drexel’s RPI is 66 and its strength of schedule is 210, which are not very impressive figures. But Drexel is assured of an NIT bid after winning the CAA regular season title.

The Dragons defeated Virginia Commonwealth in the regular season but lost the big one and VCU is not exactly a bad team. It finished the season 28-6. Last year, the CAA had a record three teams in the NCAA field with George Mason beating Villanova in the first round. So Drexel sits on the bubble with other good teams, such as Northwestern and North Carolina State, waiting.

On the pro level, two old court rivals met the other night: the 76ers and the Boston Celtics, reminding old-timers of the days of Chamberlain and Russell, Cousy and Sharmin, Heinsohn and Billy Cunningham, Doctor J, Allen Iverson, Moses Malone, Al Attles, Mo Cheeks, Larry Bird.

Have I missed anyone?

The Sixers and the Celtics tangled the other night in South Philadelphia and the Sixers prevailed easily, 103-71. Evan Turner, who didn’t look too good in his first start last week, rebounded against the Celtics with 26 points in front of almost 19,000. There have been a lot of questions about Turner, who was the second pick in the draft. He answered most of them against the Celtics with or without the ball in his hands. It was his best game as a Sixer since they drafted him in 2010. Coach Collins said after the game that for the rest of the season Turner and Andre Iguodola will be his constant guard combination.

But the Sixers suffered another player loss: Thaddeus Young, who had a double-double last Monday night, has come down with a respiratory infection and is now day-to-day.

The Sixers next game is Friday against the Jazz.

Elsewhere, the Miami Heat won its 11th straight game at home, beating the Atlanta Hawks 89-86. LeBron James had 31 points and 11 rebounds. The Heat came from 10 points down to get the win.

Also, The Washington Wizards upset the LA Lakers, 106-101. Roger Mason hit three three-pointers in the fourth period. The hot team in LA these days, however, seems to be the Clippers, who play in the same building.

The big off-season football question around here was what would the Eagles do about DeSean Jackson? The franchise tag designation was hardly surprising, simply buying the Eagles a little time before reaching a final resolution about Jackson.

The Indianapolis Colts had a somewhat similar situation regarding Peyton Manning. He turns 36 this month and missed the 2011 season with a third neck surgery. The situations differed though, because Jackson is a young, budding star while Manning, prior to 2011, never missed a game in his 13 years in the league. I wonder if it would have made any difference if the Eagles and the Colts were publicly-owned franchises like the Green Bay Packers – the only publicly owned franchise in the NFL or any other league. Probably not but maybe it’s worth thinking about following the Packers’ announcement of last week.

The Packers face a current situation where they want to add 6,700 seats to Lambeau Stadium, put in a new high density video screen and dress up the entrance to the field. It was going to cost about $65 million to do all of this and The Pack wanted to do it at no cost to the taxpayers. That part of the deal probably would have been very popular in the Philadelphia region.

But The Pack had a better idea.

As they have done through all their history when facing big decisions, they sold 208,000 shares in their team at no cash value but enabling the purchasers to call themselves co-owners of the team. The purchase price was $250 bucks a share. One lifetime fan called the offering “one he could hardly pass up” saying, “I just wanted to be an owner, just part of the team.”

The Packers now have 300,000 part-time owners. They get a piece of paper declaring them as such and become eligible for a special line of Packer apparel and may attend a special stockholders meeting at Lambeau Field. But when it came to who plays or doesn’t play, they didn’t need thousands of co-owners to make those decisions. And those are the decisions that really matter.

The franchise tag seems to be sending missed signs to DeSean Jackson, but Andy Reid said the other day that he fully expects Jackson to sign the tender. And Reid isn’t even a co-owner.

Manning and the Colts parted amicably and the quarterback is free to sign elsewhere if someone wants to take a chance on him.

Which reminds me: baseball is upon us. The baseball story that caught my eye this past week, and about which we probably haven’t heard the last, concerns National League MVP Ryan Braun.

The view of the Players Association on his successful appeal before the arbitrator of his 50-game drug suspension is particularly interesting.

Michael Weiner, the head of the Players Union, seems to think that the baseball commissioner’s office leaked the story to counteract the poor reaction to Brawn’s success in overturning his 50 game drug suspension.

In his first spring training appearance, an exhibition game against the Giants last week, the crowd greeted Braun’s every appearance at the plate with chants of “Urine sample!” and in his two at-bats, both of which ended with strike-outs, called him a cheater.

More to come on this one.

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