Or it's quiet, or it's mad

They start playing the national men's college basketball tournament late this afternoon our time. And on Thursday, Saint Paddy's Day, eight teams will be right here in Portlandia playing in their first-round games. That includes two elite teams from the West Coast, Gonzaga and UCLA. 

In the Thursday morning session at the Moda Center, four teams in the West Bracket will play. Boise State (8-seed) faces Memphis (9), and Gonzaga (1) beats up on Georgia State (18). At this writing, Memphis is a 2½-point favorite; Gonzaga is favored by 23½.

Then somehow, Portland becomes the venue for two "East" Bracket matchups. St. Mary's (5) plays whoever wins (12) this evening's contest (in Dayton, Ohio) between Wyoming and Indiana. Then UCLA (4) takes on Akron (13). UCLA is a 13½-point favorite.

Thursday's winners will play each other in their respective brackets on Saturday. By the time the weekend is over, the 68-team national field will be down to 16. Vegas says Gonzaga and UCLA will go on from here to the Sweet 16. 

And so if you see a bunch of tall young guys around town starting tomorrow, they could be college basketball players. And the tourists you see are probably their fans. I wish we had a better version of Portland to show them. I hope they brought security and don't roam around too much.

The women's tournament will not be played here. The closest first-round game is at Stanford. The Oregon Ducks (5-seed) are taking on Belmont (12) in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday evening. The winner of that one plays Tennessee (4) or Buffalo (13) on Monday.

Finally, the lads of Saint Peter's University (15) have their work cut out for them, playing Kentucky (2) on Thursday in Indianapolis. You talk about your uphill battle. But the Peacocks play with pride, and I expect them to give the dudes from McConnellgrad a hard time for at least 20 minutes. Kentucky is favored to win the game by 18 points.