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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Scenes from press row

By Marla Published: March 18, 2011

Villanova's pep band leader has the nickname of "Iditarod"' on the back of his jersey. George Mason's band director looks like he stepped out of the closet of former Browns offensive lineman Tony Jones. Doc Nix, in his fifth year, is wearing a bright yellow suit he said he bought in the Washington, D.C. area.

Most of the Cavs' photos and signs leading to the locker rooms have been covered up by the NCAA. Even the club-level lounge near the Cavs' press room is hidden by curtains.

Ohio State is using the Lake Erie Monsters' locker room, at least for the first game.

The ridiculous NCAA policy of requiring all drinks to be in cups with NCAA logos continues. It prompts a long line in the media workroom at halftime. They're almost out of Diet Coke and it's only Game 1. Sure enough, the cup police nailed a George Mason assistant who was scouting in the second game for drinking a bottle of SmartWater from his team's locker room.

Where in the world is Pete Gillen? He's sitting in front of me, broadcasting the George Mason-Villanova game for the Westwood One radio network.

It's 4:15 p.m. and Quicken Loans Arena is packed to the rafters. With tickets good for two games in the first session and then the crowd being cleared, OSU fans are getting their money's worth.

It may be a three-point game with 1:54 left, but neither the impeccably dressed Jay Wright of Villanova nor George Mason's Jim Larranga have loosened their ties.

Todd Lamb, a former member of Ohio State's sports information department, now lives in the Dallas area and works for the Southland Conference. He signed on long ago to be in charge of timeouts for CBS and will now be courtside with his league's NCAA rep, UT-San Antonio, as it takes on top-seeded OSU.

The huge OSU following is all rooting for George Mason. Is it the love of the underdog or fear of the Big East?

Both Villanova and George Mason seem to boast a well-balanced team without a major star. But George Mason's Mike Morrison has the NBA dunk down pat, just slamming home his second. His first nearly toppled the shot clock.

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