Way to go Jaspers!

Published 8:51 am Friday, March 19, 2004

By Staff
So, how is your bracket looking?
That is always a difficult question for me to answer because I never have just one bracket filled out.
This year I penciled in two sets of grids and also filled out one for the online contest at espn.com.
I am pleased to tell all of you that I picked Manhattan to beat Florida in two of the three!
I also picked Nevada to beat Michigan State in the online contest, which is the most important because I could actually win something if I do well enough. The rest are simply for my own personal satisfaction, or dismay.
Despite how well you did or did not do with your predictions, you have to admit that the first day of the 2004 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament was a great one.
We saw upsets (Manhattan and Nevada), near upsets (Virginia-Commonwealth, UTEP, BYU and Dayton), blowouts (Duke and Gonzaga) and a double-overtime game (DePaul-Dayton).
The best part of the first two days of the NCAA Tournament is always getting to watch teams you would otherwise never have the chance to see.
My favorite unknown teams from Thursday's games were Manhattan, Nevada and UTEP.
Manhattan stole my heart when I saw the Jaspers' point guard, 5-foot-8-inch Kenny Minor, take the ball straight at and score over Florida big man David Lee who stands 6-9. It was just one play, but it was symbolic of what Manhattan was about to do to the Gators.
Nevada was fun to watch simply because they were resilient. The Wolf Pack trailed Michigan State most of the game but surged at just the right time to overtake the favored Spartans. Nevada's Kirk Snyder is one of those players who you love to see win. The Wolf Pack's leading scorer had trouble getting into an offensive rhythm, but finished the game with 19 points.
Finally, UTEP was a treat to watch as much because of their uniforms as anything else. Donning bright orange, the Miners gave all they had against Maryland, the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament champion. UTEP came up short in the end, but gave the Terrapins all they could handle.
It's also nice to see DePaul survive to play another day. The Blue Demons have brought life back to a program that has been down for several years and could not live on its history much longer.
Today's games should prove to be another dose of madness. Whether your bracket holds up or crumbles miserably, it doesn't really matter because that's what the NCAA Tournament is all about.
The unexpected, unpredictable and unlikely can and does happen on a regular basis during these first two days of the Big Dance.
And just you know, I'm picking Western Michigan and UAB to produce upsets today.
Dan Weiss is sports editor of the Niles Daily Star. Email him at dan.weiss@leaderpub.com