KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeff Capel said it, then Todd Bozeman, his coaching rival tonight at the Sprint Center, said it again. The NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting show on Earth. "We’re excited to be here in Kansas City,” Capel said Wednesday on the eve of the NCAAs. But he wasn’t talking about barbeque at Arthur Bryant’s or touring the Truman library or strolling around the city of fountains. This national frenzy, which reaches from the tiniest hamlets to even the Oval Office, is fueled by basketball. "Excited to be a part of the greatest sporting event I think in all of athletics,” said Capel, the coach who has Oklahoma a No. 2 seed in the South Regional. The Sooners play Morgan State at 8:40 tonight. Oklahoma State gets its bats with an 11:25 a.m. Friday game against Tennessee in the East Regional at another college hoops hotbed, Dayton, Ohio. But again, it’s not the location that has the Cowboys juiced. It’s the event. "It’s a very special time,” said Bozeman. "Very special event, one of the true great events in all of sports. They should really cherish the opportunity.” The NCAA Tournament so enchants America, its leader took out time Tuesday from the Afghan War and the Wall Street bailout to share his bracket projections with ESPN. President Barack Obama picked the Sooners to win twice, then lose to Syracuse in the regional semifinals, and picked OSU to lose to Tennessee. Turnabout is fair play. This state picked both Hillary and McCain to take out Obama in the ’08 presidential bracket. No offense to the White House, but the Sooners won’t much care about how they’re picked in the bracket. "I mean, we know better than anybody what this team can do,” said senior Taylor Griffin, who has played in two previous NCAA Tournaments, with nary a victory. "Everybody outside the program can talk as much as they want, but ... if we’re playing at our highest level, we can be the best team in the country.” That’s the beauty of the NCAA Tournament. Most every team can dream of getting there, and the 65 teams that do make it can dream of anything, from an epic upset (Morgan State over OU) to a championship (OU over Morgan State and five other foes). That’s what makes it the greatest sporting event in all of athletics.
Tonight’s game Oklahoma vs. Morgan State
→When: 8:40 p.m. →Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo. →TV: KWTV-9 (Cox 10) Friday’s game Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
When: 11:25 a.m. Where: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio TV: KWTV-9 (Cox 10)