The Making of Madness

For many, the start of the NCAA tournament marks the first and only time this year that we will pay close attention to college basketball. But for the players who will lace up their dancing shoes, this has been a long time in the making. It goes back to the summer, putting in work, getting up shots. Before the first practice, before the first game, and long before Andy from accounting emailed you about filling out that bracket, or before Cheryl from HR told you that she's picking Northwestern because her nephew studies theater there (cool story, Cheryl).

So here's to a few of the college athletes who have been in TSF's gym getting better when nobody's watching, and who made it all the way to the NCAA's ultimate stage.

Kaiser Gates (No. 11 Xavier) and Melo Trimble (No. 6 Maryland) got things going on Thursday with a head-to-head battle in the West Region, and in the end it was Kaiser and the X-Men moving on with a 76-65 win. No. 11 Xavier will meet No. 3 Florida State with Phil Cofer (FSU) and Jarquez Smith (FSU) on Saturday. The Seminoles took down familiar giant killers Florida Gulf Coast in a high-flying, Florida-only affair that featured a ton of dunks and some optional defense. And in a valiant upset effort, Duby Okeke (Winthrop) and No. 13 Winthrop could not knock off March darlings, the No. 4 Butler Bulldogs, losing 76-64.

Shenzhen Leopards Let It Rain, Stay Alive in CBA Semifinals

In spite of the branding, college basketball does not have a monopoly on heart-pounding hoops in the month of March. Across the globe in China, t he Shenzhen Leopards beat their rivals Guangdong109-90 in Game 3 to push the series to 2-1 and stay alive in the CBA semifinals.

Carlos Boozer, Yi Jianlian and the Guangdong Tigers had no answer for Shenzhen's offense, which poured in 17 threes on the evening. Meng Duo (Danny, pictured at right) hit six, Zhong Mian  ( Armien) hit four, and Gu Quan ( Gucci) hit three for the Leopards.

Let Me See Your Jazz Hands

With no selection committee to hand out their seeding, the Utah Jazz will have to hold off the LA Clippers, OKC Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies to get the fourth spot -- and first round homecourt -- in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Three Jazz have spent time in TSF's gym: Rodney Hood, who is shooting 37% from three and averaging 13.1 points per game in his third NBA season; Joe Johnson, who fits perfectly in Quin Snyder's system as a stretch four (39% on threes) who can also create; and Shelvin Mack, who's assumed his usual role of reliable backup point guard who runs pick and roll and limits turnovers.

With these three humming alongside Gordon Hayward, George Hill and Rudy Gobert, Utah is poised to end its five-year playoff drought. And they'll want more.

Ma-Leap Beasley

We leave you with this filthy baseline number from Malik Beasley. Ivica Zubac probably wishes we had just stopped with the Jazz...

Malik Beasley Dunks All Over Ivica Zubac