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Pick Six: Veterans to watch as NCAA Tournament begins

A shadow cast by COVID-19 has threatened to derail the season with even a single positive test.

There has never been a better time to have senior leadership in the NCAA Tournament than this season.

There was no real offseason for young players to improve. No exhibitions and fewer non-conference games for teams to come together. And the shadow cast by COVID-19 that threatened to derail a season with a single positive test.
So while experienced teams always have an edge during March Madness, those with seniors running the show may be at an even bigger advantage this year. Iowa star Luka Garza and Gonzaga counterpart Corey Kispert already are household names worth watching, but there are plenty of other seniors that should threaten to steal the spotlight.


Fan of heavyweight wrestling? Tune into a first-round game between Garza’s second-seeded Hawkeyes and No. 15 seed Grand Canyon. That’s where you’ll find the 6-foot-11, 265-pound All-American banging bodies with fellow senior Asbjorn Midtgaard, the 7-foot, 270-pound Wichita State transfer and leading scorer for the Antelopes.
Virginia intends to play after withdrawing from the ACC Tournament because of COVID-19 protocols, which means fans will get to say Sam Hauser running the show. The transfer from Marquette averages 16 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Alex Barcello has become such a star at BYU the past two seasons that some forget he began his career at Arizona.


The senior leadership of Austin Reaves and Brady Manek helped Oklahoma climb into the top 10 earlier this season, though a rough finish left the eighth-seeded Sooners with a first-round date against No. 9 seed Missouri.
Speaking of the Tigers, they’re also led by a pair of seniors. Dru Smith is their leading scorer and Jeremiah Tilmon finally reached his potential this season, and both aim to help Missouri snap a four-game NCAA Tournament skid.
Squirreled away in a smaller conference on the West Coast, UC Santa Barbara seniors JaQuori McLaughlin and Devearl Ramsey went largely unnoticed. But the No. 12 seed Gauchos should give No. 5 Creighton all it can handle. 


Garza gets the headlines in Iowa City but fifth-year senior Jordan Bohannon is a big reason why the Hawkeyes are a Final Four contender. The consummate floor general averages 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
“I don’t know who would underappreciate it. He’s going to be the school’s all-time leader in assists. I don’t know what more you have to do to get appreciated,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I appreciate it, I can tell you that.”
Baylor guard MaCio Teague isn’t just overlooked around the country, he’s often overlooked on his own team. That’s what happens when you share a backcourt with Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell, despite scoring 16.2 points a game.
Herb Jones is an All-American candidate and Jaden Shackelford is Alabama’s leading scorer, but John Petty Jr. makes the SEC Tournament champs go. He shoots 44% from beyond the arc and is the school’s career leader in 3-pointers.
“You know what’s amazing? Just to see our school do both things in basketball and football just tells about the school itself, the way they recruit, the people we have around our school. It’s amazing,” Petty said. “It’s kind of, like I say, indescribable just because all these things haven’t been done in so long.”


The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is the out-of-nowhere teams and players that set brackets ablaze, and often they’re veterans that have been through the grind. That’s the case with Javion Hamlet, who has No. 13 seed North Texas ready for home-state hope Purdue, and Isaiah Miller, who will lead No. 13 seed UNC Greensboro against Florida State.
One of the trendy upset picks is No. 14 seed Colgate over Arkansas. Both teams get up and down the floor at a breakneck pace, but if the Raiders want to hang around into the second half, they’ll need Jordan Burns to light it up. One of the nation’s prolific shooters averages 17.0 points while shooting 44.4% from the arc.
“We’ve got to contain Burns,” Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. “They’re an analytics team. They make 3s. They make layups. So, we look forward to the prep over the next few days.”


At least two veterans will have to provide some leadership from the bench: Michigan star Isaiah Livers is out indefinitely after an MRI taken following a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over Maryland revealed a stress fracture in his right foot, and Villanova’s Collin Gillespie tore a knee ligament earlier this month to end his season early.
Then there’s Tennessee forward John Fulkerson, who sustained facial fractures in an SEC Tournament win over Florida and underwent surgery Sunday. Fulkerson has not been ruled out, though — his status will be determined later this week.
“I’ve said it before. It’s never going to be about John Fulkerson,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “He wants his teammates to win and wants to be a part of it, and nobody is pulling more for him to do that than his teammates.”
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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Bill Giles warns UK public to 'watch out' as hayfever season begins during Covid pandemic

Meteorologist Bill Giles, 81, has warned UK residents to be vigilant as we head into hayfever season while the coronavirus pandemic is still on-going and very much present. He worried that the sneezing and coughing that comes from the seasonal allergic reaction to pollen, might transmit partials through the air from one person to another, therefore spreading the virus further and perhaps quicker.
As the UK looks towards freedom on 21 June following Boris Johnson’s announcement last week, with shops, businesses and hospitality sectors allowed to open at specific dates before then, Bill wanted to make sure members of the public stay safe as we had into spring and summer.

In a recent interview, he said: “As the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky, tree pollen will increase.

“We know Covid is transmitted through the air and the 29 March lifting of restrictions will unfortunately coincide with the start of peak hayfever season.”

Bill added: “We all want to meet family and friends, but watch out for those sneezes!”

READ MORE: Carol Kirkwood ‘made Queen laugh’ with rude joke about weather blooper

“And don’t doubt that there will more hot springs ahead.”

Now the roadmap to recovery has been provisionally put into place (subject to change), Bill can get back to talking about what he knows best – the weather.

And as we head into the warmer months of the year, people will depend solely on the weather to give them a new lease of life, what with normality slowly returning and being able to meet friends and family for walks and picnics outside.

“Nearly all the things we are looking forward to doing again as lockdown gradually lifts are dependent on the weather,” he told Radio Times.

“But going for walks and meeting people – especially your grandchildren if, like me, you’re a little older – or simply meeting friends for drinks in a beer garden won’t be much fun if it’s pouring with rain.”

He also admitted he’s looking forward to 12 April, when hairdresser and barbers are set to open their doors, as he’s been struggling to enjoy watching weather forecasts as the BBC weather presenters currently look like “shaggy sheepdogs”.

The 81-year-old retired TV forecaster continued: “I don’t know about you, but this will become easier for me to enjoy from 12 April when barbers open again and some of the BBC weather presenters who now look like shaggy sheepdogs will be allowed to have their hair cut.

“Then we’ll be able to see their eyes again and this, I always feel, is a clear indicator as to whether or not they believe the story they are telling you!”

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He went on to compare today’s presenters to those from “his day”, where meteorologists were required to look a certain way.

“In my days on screen we were employees of the Meteorological Office, which made us, in effect, servicemen,” he explained.

“Presenting weather reports was like going on parade and we were obliged to have neat, short hair.”

Bill didn’t specify which presenters he was talking about specifically, but the current meteorologists at the BBC include Carol Kirkwood and Ben Rich.

Bill’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.