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In Wilbon's World

Chat House: The Addition

Each week I'll post a few questions I didn't get to during The Chat House and respond to them in depth. Today's topics: Super Bowl halftime performers, Ovie, NCAA tournament expansion and rivalry week.

Lionel Richie: Q: Who else is black and middle of the road, R&B without being too cutting edge?
A: Hello, is it -me- you're looking for?

MW: Look, I LOVE Lionel Richie. That's totally in my wheelhouse. I came of age on the Commodores music with Lionel singing lead, then the solo Lionel...but that's 1980s. Talk about skewing old! I'm 51 and I'd love it but isn't he damn near as old as some of those rockers? I'm looking to have somebody with some new music, in addition to a library of consequence. Hell, maybe I'm asking for too much.

Snow City, Va.: Michael, Can we, at least, get some Chat House Love for what Alex Ovechkin did on Sunday? We praise Kobe and Lebron when they have a brilliant regular season tet-a-tet so, let's praise Ovechkin and Crosby for theirs. In your time in D.C., has Washington ever had a big game hunter like Ovechkin? Riggins, maybe. Monroe and Unseld?

MW: I think there's plenty of room to show some love for Ovechkin, who is having a BEAST of a season, without trying to make it seem like he's the only great player in the history of D.C., so I appreciate the context in which you ask the question. Unseld, Hayes, Monroe, all of them, yes. How about Patrick Ewing when he was a member of the Georgetown Hoyas and leading the team to three Final Fours in four years? How about Juan Dixon/Steve Blake leading the Maryland Terrapins to back-to-back Final Fours? Riggins is a good mention, as Art Monk and Darrell Green would be for the Redskins championship teams after Riggins retired. But yes, Ovechkin is the best player in the NHL right now. He's sixth in assists and we don't think of him as a playmaker, really. The rage he plays with is irresistible. Goodness. The one thing I wonder about is whether the Caps can sustain this into a through the playoffs. They're hot so early. Are they unbelievably hot or this good? Thing about the NBA and NHL is you want to see the best players in the playoffs, and I can't wait to see Ovechkin in April/May and presumably June.

Reno: On to the next big event March Madness. Mike explain to me what is wrong with expanding the current NCAA 65 team format to 96 teams. I am thinking that the first round of the lower half would be scheduled as home court games for the higher ranking teams in the bottom 64. One nice thing about this formula it would give the mid majors and the Div 2AA schools a more meaningful venue.

Thanks for your work it is great.

MW: Thank you...We'll have to agree to disagree on the tournament expansion. I hate the idea. What's wrong with it? What's wrong with the tournament as it is now? More is not necessarily better. I think the NCAA men's basketball tournament is perhaps the only perfect thing in sports. The three weekends feel right. Having, usually, about three to six teams that feel angry about being left out feels about right. Nobody can argue that 30 teams need to be included. I also think it's just a way for the committee to add more BCS level schools and they'll look right past the mid-majors no matter how many teams are in the expanded field. I'm certainly hoping my Northwestern Wildcats get in this March before the thing expands, because the 65-team field is about to go bye-bye.

Chantilly, Va.: It's rivalry week in college basketball (sponsored by Big Corporation X). Who are the biggest rivals you've seen in your days covering sports? Magic/Larry (obviously) ... Duke/UNC (most of the time), Army/Navy ...

MW: Living here in the D.C. area and covering the ACC for much of the last 30 years introduced me to Duke-North Carolina. But, yes, I personally enjoyed Larry-Magic as much as a person can enjoy a rivalry. I didn't see much Army-Navy. I've enjoyed Redskins-Cowboys, particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s. Georgetown-St. John's, Georgetown-Syracuse, Georgetown-UCONN were all rivalries that built the Big East, and Georgetown-St. John's in 1984 -- those four games, three won by the Hoyas -- were more exciting than any college basketball I've ever seen, to this day. The games in The Garden between SJU and GU that year...I couldn't sleep the night before those games. John Thompson woke me from a dead sleep one night in The Hyatt at Grand Central and let me watch some tape with him at about 3 a.m., the night before one of the games. Duke-Maryland has been really good lately. It's too bad the Bullets/Wizards never had a true rival in the 30 years I've been here. Remember, though, I don't just cover sports locally; in fact in the last 10 years I've covered much more nationally. And through the years I've gotten to peek in on a lot of things, like Lakers-Celtics, Yankees-Red Sox (a time or two), Steelers-Browns, Chiefs-Raiders, Texas-OU football...I do love rivalries.

Arlington, Va.: The Saints winning hit me this morning, and I cried. I know most of America is tired of hearing about New Orleans and Katrina, and that it may be impossible to understand the pure joy New Orleanians felt last night. 4 1/2 years ago people lost everything, for some that included loved ones. The Super Bowl, win or lose, wasn't going to keep New Orleans from its upward trajectory, but it was a punctuation point on the fact that New Orleans is on its way back. This celebration would have happened no matter what. It was a celebration for surviving and coming through Katrina and its aftermath. The media has it wrong. The team did not bring the city back; it simply mirrors the city's resurgence and the resiliency of the people of New Orleans. Saints fans never lost faith in their team or their city.

Signed, Who Dat in Rosslyn

MW: Thanks for that, and congratulations to all the real Saints fans, the people who suffered through the losses and lean years and now get to celebrate a championship that I suspect means more to a city and region than you could find possible anywhere else in the NFL.


Michael Wilbon

 |  February 10, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Category:  Capitals , College Basketball , NFL , The Chat House Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Lionel Richie was born in 1949, which makes him the same age as Bruce Springsteen and a year older than Tom Petty. Four years younger than Pete Townshed and five younger than Roger Daltrey.

Posted by: jpw0527 | February 11, 2010 9:56 AM
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Why does PTI on ESPN repeat the same news that has already been covered by early shows?

Posted by: chiefshamus | February 10, 2010 7:15 PM
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Holy Cow, MW does know who Ovechkin is and that we have an NHL team in DC. I do not think he has mentioned the Caps since last year's playoffs. I will keep an eye out for him at Verizon Center and will report back any sightings. I understand he was in the house for the GT vs Villanova game last week.

Posted by: fishndude | February 10, 2010 3:26 PM
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Michael....Gladys Knight.

Johnny Rivers isn't Black,but he's still touring and making GREAT new music, he's in the Blues Hall Of Fame...the Super Bowl digs fun Oldies...they could rock out to Memphis,Secret Agent Man,Midnight Special,etc

Posted by: petebowling1 | February 10, 2010 12:31 PM
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A big AMEN to Who Dat in Rosslyn !

We need to keep that in mind about this entire nation,the disaster and neglect of Katrina is simplimatic of what was done to this country for eight's taken New Orleans a long time to rebuild and turn around,it's going to take this country a long time too.

Posted by: petebowling1 | February 10, 2010 12:24 PM
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