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Mark Wiedmer

Stories by Mark

ARLINGTON, Tex. — With 79,444 college basketball fans crammed into AT&T Stadium for Saturday night's Final Four — many of them forced to watch the stadium's 150-foot long video boards to keep up with the game — NCAA president Mark Emmert was asked on Sunday if the organization will ever consider returning its biggest event to a regular basketball venue.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Maybe it had to end this way. Nearly every other game in this NCAA basketball tournament has for Kentucky.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jim Calhoun may no longer officially be the Connecticut basketball coach.

ARLINGTON, Texas — They're playing in the Final Four, this quirky basketball quartet of Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

NORTH TEXAS — The smile rarely leaves Scottie Wilbekin's face these days.

When the men's Final Four tips off Saturday evening in Dallas, it's a safe assumption that most of America's NCAA Tournament brackets will have long been busted to smithereens. Especially with top-seeded Florida being joined by the unlikely trio of second seed Wisconsin, seventh seed Connecticut and eighth seed Kentucky.

According to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, into the Wildcats' locker room a few weeks ago was wheeled a casket, from which Cal soon popped up proclaiming, "We aren't dead yet."

Thirty years ago, Ron Bishop never dreamed that SCORE International would accumulate millions of dollars in assets, send more than 100,000 American athletes and coaches on mission trips around the globe or run three orphanages.

Tuesday should have been Cuonzo Martin's day in the limelight. A brief flirtation — or was it a money grab disguised as hurt feelings? — with Marquette behind him, a new Tennessee contract apparently in the works, it should have been his moment finally to feel the love and the focus of the Big Orange Nation, if not much of the sports world.

When it comes to the Atlanta Braves, let's hope there aren't 161 more games like Monday.

So sorry if I offend any of you this morning, but I have to type this in all caps regarding the upcoming Final Four: S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C!

INDIANAPOLIS — To be or not to be the University of Tennessee basketball coach.

INDIANAPOLIS — It shouldn’t end this way. That’s what Tennessee basketball fans will no doubt claim after Friday night’s 73-71 Midwest Regional semifinal loss to Michigan on Friday night.

INDIANAPOLIS — If you go to the Dick's Sporting Goods website today and cue up "Louisville replica basketball jersey," you can purchase a No. 2 tank top for $60 that's remarkably similar to the one Cardinals guard Russ Smith may wear tonight against Kentucky in their NCAA Sweet 16 showdown.

INDIANAPOLIS — When you've reached zero Final Fours and but one Elite Eight in the 104 years you've fielded a men's basketball team, there are a lot painful moments.

Because the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football season kicks off 155 days from today at Central Michigan, a sports writer decided to ask a couple of the mighty Mocs a far more timely question following Monday's spring practice. Something along the lines of ... "So how's your NCAA tournament bracket?"

I need your help this morning. I'm taking up a collection to buy NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chairman Ron Wellman a pair of eyeglasses and a new computer software program.

What if the Tennessee men's basketball team beats Mercer today, then wins twice more to reach its first Final Four in program history?

One free throw. For one trophy.

Happy belated birthday, Bruce Almighty. Or should that now be Bruce Au-mighty? Either way, welcome back to the Southeastern Conference. The league obviously has missed you, just in case you hadn't noticed those paltry three NCAA bids it's received each of the last two years.

It's rule 4-17.4 in the NCAA basketball rules book. It concerns the block/charge call. And thanks to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's tirade inside Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 22, it has become the most discussed official's call of the 2013-14 season, at least until the NCAA tournament's First Four games begin tonight in Dayton, Ohio.

Dick Vitale’s volume too often overwhelms his veracity.

ATLANTA — Fourteen points.

ATLANTA — With 10:05 to go in Florida's SEC tournament quarterfinal game against Missouri on Friday afternoon, the nationally top-ranked Gators were only two points in front of the pesky Tigers.

ATLANTA — South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin looked down at the stat sheet that showed his ground-down Gamecocks losing 59-44 to Tennessee on Friday afternoon, then looked ahead to the Volunteers' Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal showdown today with No. 1 Florida.

ATLANTA — South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin looked down at the stat sheet that showed his ground-down Gamecocks losing 59-44 to Tennessee on Friday afternoon, then looked ahead to the Volunteers' Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal showdown today with No. 1 Florida.

Normally, whenever the first game of a basketball tournament session runs long, the teams waiting to take the court for Game 2 grow antsy. And impatient. And sometimes downright irritated.

ATLANTA — Normally, whenever the first game of a basketball tournament session runs long, the teams waiting to take the court for Game 2 grow antsy.

The date was March 4, 1980. As many college kids did in those days, my friend Ben phoned his parents in Naples, Fla., that Sunday to converse while the rates were low.

Times Free Press columnist Mark Wiedmer started going to the SEC tournament in 1979. In all he's watched and covered 33 of those tournaments, and here are some of his best from the event:

Her hard work done, yet another Southern Conference women's basketball tournament title secure, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Meghan Downes headed home to Atlanta on Tuesday to enjoy at least a couple of days of spring break.

It had been a tough nine days for the Kansas basketball program before Sunday's news that 7-foot freshman center Joel Embiid was flying to Los Angeles on Monday to consult a specialist about his tender lower back.

Back on Nov. 12 of last year inside Chicago's United Center, then No. 2 Michigan State outlasted then No. 1 Kentucky 78-74, prompting the following quote from losing coach John Calipari:

The Southeastern Conference men's basketball standings tell a big, fat lie this morning.

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee football coach Butch Jones made the observation near the close of Thursday's pre-spring-practice news conference.

It takes a lot of money to stage free football clinics for 200 or more Chattanooga youngsters. And to raise that kind of money it often takes some pretty big names.

It had the makings of a turning point for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team. A bad turning point.

If the NCAA men's basketball tournament began this week, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi believes four Southeastern Conference teams — Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee — would make the 68-team field.

Fifteen feet.

Tracy Bleil doesn't remember exactly when she was told that she would be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame tonight at the Convention Center.

KNOXVILLE AND — Twenty seconds into Tennessee's rout of Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon, Big Orange guard Antonio Barton swished a 3-pointer off the right side to give the Volunteers a 3-0 advantage that would become a 76-38 win.

When I grow old(er) I want to be just like John Disterdick. I want to have his energy and enthusiasm. I want his determination and dilligence. I really want his medals, ribbons and trophies.

For the first time in three decades, Buddy Nix wasn't on site to watch the close of the NFL combine Tuesday in Indianapolis. He instead viewed it from his Ooltewah home, content that endless television coverage and the detailed data he received each evening would suffice.

Vicky Hood didn't always imagine her son Rodney starring for the Duke Blue Devils. There was a time when the family was completely focused on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Mocs.

Some college basketball coaches almost never seem to get a bad break.

Having just claimed the pole for today's Daytona 500, Austin Dillon could have passed on his earlier commitment to run a dirt track race last Sunday at nearby Volusia Speedway Park.

They took up the entire lower north end zone of McKenzie Arena on Thursday night, 98 sixth-graders from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, all of them cheering their young lungs out for CPA alum and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior forward Zaccheus Mason against Georgia Southern.

ATLANTA — The firsts were everywhere in the hours and minutes before fifth-ranked Duke hit Georgia Tech's sparkling McCamish Pavilion basketball court.

A week ago tonight, his Volunteers having just lost to visiting Florida, Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said of the Gators, "Probably the best Florida team since I've been here. As a team, I would put them ... similar to the Kentucky team with Anthony Davis."

If you allow yourself to ignore the oppressive government that drew these Winter Olympics to Sochi...and the anti-gay mandates of Vladimir Putin,the former KGB officer turned Russian president ... and the mirage that is a happy, prosperous Sochi rather than the impoverished, repressed community that's been temporarily hidden from the rest of the world, well, it's been a pretty good Games so far.

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