In the past, whenever we decided to take a trip during spring break–unless it was to Las Vegas —it usually meant we wouldn’t have a clue about the results of the first week of action in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

We thought that would happen again last weekend when we left early Thursday morning to catch a plane in Houston for a flight to Kansas City to attend the wedding of wife Susan’s cousin’s daughter in her hometown of Marshall , Mo.

We landed in Kansas City before the tip-off of the opening game Thursday noon and were able to at least find out the scores of the games in which we had an interest.
And if we hadn’t forgotten to pack our winter coat, we probably would have seen that opening tip-off—or at least heard the action on our rented car’s radio.

But the 40-degree temperature in Kansas City made us realize our mistake quickly, so we stopped at the first mall we saw and bought a winter coat that luckily was reduced 75 per cent because Thursday was the first day of spring, even though it still felt very much like winter.

When we made the 75-mile drive from Kansas City to Marshall, we were amazed to discover that most of Susan’s cousins—and there were plenty because Susan’s dad was from a family of 13 children—were involved in office pools and what-not, pertaining to the March Madness basketball tournament.

In fact while they were working on some of the many last-minute items associated with a family wedding, they relied on yours truly to keep up with the games, so they could figure out their first round success or lack thereof on that opening day.

We found out one thing about the University of Missouri fans that one NEVER sees here in Texas , although their Tigers were not invited to any post-season basketball tournaments, these Missouri fans loaded their office pool brackets with the Big 12 members that were playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Can you just see a bunch of Texas A&M fans rooting for the Texas Longhorns to beat their tournament opponent? Or the Longhorn fans hoping the Aggies would win their first-round game? If that ever happens anywhere, it certainly isn’t here in Southeast Texas .

But getting back to our wife’s clan of cousins, they all picked the Big 12 members to win, and believe it or not, only Baylor failed while Kansas , Kansas State, Oklahoma , Texas and Texas A&M all won their first-round games.

Most had done really well on their first-round brackets despite the fact ESPN announced that the odds of getting all 32 first-round game correct was 500-1, and added that of the 3.6 million brackets it received in an on-line contest, NOBODY went 32-for-32 in the first round, but one person did go 0-for-32.

The bride, Glenna Jones, wanted to be married on her grandfather’s farm outside of Marshall . So a monstrous tent equipped with windows was set up for the reception and a huge canopy with two sides was to serve as the site for the actual wedding ceremony.
We informed her that not only was the site of the wedding unique, but the Good Friday date also was the earliest since 1915. The next time Good Friday would be this early in the year will be in the year 2285. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

The groom, Brock Bult, is a football coach and math teacher in the same school district where Glenna is an assistant principal. A former linebacker in college, Brock said his goal is to be a defensive coordinator at a high school in Texas .

A cold front with 30-40 mph winds roared in early Friday creating havoc with the tents that had to be reinforced and anchored down better. The half dozen huge patio heaters didn’t warm things much for the wedding ceremony, but they worked wonders in the reception tent.

We picked up on the NCAA Tournament later Friday night, drove back to Kansas City Saturday evening, visiting more of Susan’s cousins there and we flew back to Houston early Easter Sunday morning, arriving in Orange in time for dinner and even managed to sneak in an afternoon round of golf.

And this Korner is pleased that the top two Big 12 teams—the Kansas Jayhawks and the Texas Longhorns—are still alive and well for this week’s Sweet Sixteen segment of the NCAA Tournament. The top-seeded Jayhawks meet No. 12 seed Villanova and the second-seeded ‘Horns take on No 3 seed Stanford both on Friday.

KWICKIES… Orange ’s John Patterson didn’t stay unemployed very long. After being cut by the Washington Nationals last week he signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers during the Easter weekend.

Although his winning streak was halted Monday when he failed to win the PGA Tour World Golf Championships at Doral, Fla. Tiger Woods moves the TV ratings 50 per cent whenever he is entered in a televised golf tournament. The only other athlete who could control the ratings like that was Michael Jordan when he was at the peak of his basketball career in the early 1990’s.

Look for many of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s poll ranking the top three-year old colts to be entered in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. 1. Pyro 2. Colonel John 3. Cool Coal Man 4. War Pass 5. Denis of Cork 6. El Gato Malo 7. Elysium Fields 8. Georgia Boy 9. Visionaire 10. Court Vision.

The Dallas Cowboys are still seriously pursuing a trade with the Tennessee for Pacman Jones and are offering the Titans a lower draft choice for the defensive back, who is still under suspension by the NFL.

JUST BETWEEN US…Wonder why the gasoline prices were around $3.25 per gallon in the Houston area and as low as $2.94 a gallon in Marshall, Mo? We didn’t see any refineries anywhere around the center of Missouri and yet the prices were so much lower where the fuel has to be shipped in so far. Perhaps Texas has some middlemen who are grabbing some of the gold.