Madness, mid-majors, and money

Shots in the Darke

Okay basketball fans, get ready for the best time of the season as the next four weeks will see the conclusion of high school tournaments for both boys and girls as well as the annual “March Madness” at all levels of collegiate men and womens play. Get your tickets purchased, cars gassed, snacks and beverages stocked, and television sets ready if not attending in person.

Let’s begin by looking at area high school teams in action this week—on the girls side it’s state Final Four competition beginning with a semifinal pairing in D-IV with the number one ranked Lady Redskins of Fort Loramie taking on Convoy Crestview at UD Arena Thursday at 1:00. The Fort survived a regional semifinal scare from a young Russia team before overwhelming Marion Local in the final to earn a trip to the state tournament once again.

Congratulations to the Lady Blackhawks of Mississinawa for a game effort only to come up short to Marion Local in the semis; the girls from outside of Union City have much to be proud of and look forward to next year.

In the boys D-III regional to be held at Kettering’s Trent Arena, Preble Shawnee, and Tri- Village will reprise their WOAC championship contest of a few weeks ago in a semi-meeting Wednesday at 5:30 with Versailles facing Mariemont at 8:00. I would venture a guess that the Trent will be packed with fans from Darke and Preble Counties for both games!!

Earlier, on Tuesday, D-IV semifinal play features Russia matching up with Lancaster Fisher Catholic at the Trent at 5:30 with Troy Christian and Jackson Center to tip off at 8:00. Should be a great two days of high school hoops in the Southwest Regionals leading up to the finals and trips to State!!

Switching over to the college scene, your TV could be on overload watch as conference tournaments occur, all leading up to Selection Sunday as the brackets are finalized for the 68- team men’s field. First, how about the SEC women’s championship game between undefeated South Carolina and last year’s reigning national titleholders from LSU! With SC up late in the contest a skirmish broke out which eventually led to the disqualification of Carolina’s starting lineup and most of the Lady Tigers main players. The Lady Gamecocks held on to win but the main implications could be the suspension of players from both teams for the first game of the national tournament— will be interesting to see how the situation plays out won’t it?

I always enjoy watching the so-called Mid-Major league tournaments as you get to see some great basketball played by schools who don’t normally appear on national broadcasts. One of my favorites is the Missouri Valley Conference and the annual “Arch Madness” held in St. Louis—this year Drake held off a late comeback by the Sycamores of Indiana State in about as entertaining a game as I’ve seen this year.

The enthusiasm of the fans of the Mid-Majors is contagious and even the casual observer can get caught up in the excitement as teams try to “punch their tickets” to the Big Dance. Locally, the Horizon League finishes postseason play in Indianapolis the next few days while the Mid-American begins action in Cleveland later in the week. The Mid-Majors are super competitive but unfortunately have become what seems to be feeder programs for the Power Five conferences as stars transfer to schools where NIL money comes into play!

Speaking of money, The Week magazine had an article stating that the US Treasury prints more $100 bills annually than those of the $1 variety. Why you ask? Seems like the criminal element finds it easier to hide larger denominations and the demand overseas is there.

Evidently a stack of $1 million dollars in $20 bills weighs 110 pounds while the same amount in $100 currency only weighs 22 pounds. I find this to be warped thinking on the government’s part but what do I know!!

This leads to today’s trivia question—can you name the faces on the seven notes currently being issued? Here’s a hint to start, Washington in on the dollar bill—but what about the 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar versions? Answers to follow, bet you can’t get them all without looking!

Miscellaneous thoughts—high school spring sports schedules will be starting shortly; get out and support these young athletes!

—the PGA tour starts getting serious as the Masters approaches next month. Scottie Scheffler cruised to the Arnold Palmer Invitational title Sunday as his putter finally regained its touch.

—the Patriots appear to have traded QB Mac Jones to the Jaguars where he’ll backup Trevor Lawrence. The former Alabama star was 18-25 in three seasons in New England and fell out of favor. How far he’s fallen is evidenced by the fact that NE only received a sixth-round pick from Jacksonville.

—Michigan finishes the men’s regular season with an 8-23 record while Ohio State ends 19-12 with interim coach Jake Diebler leading the Bucks to a 5-1 mark after Chris Holtmann was let go. Think Diebler will get an interview? Hard to say.

Here are your denomination answers – the $2 bill features Jefferson; Lincoln appears on the $5; Alexander Hamilton graces the $10; Andrew Jackson is on the $20; the $50 has a portrait of US Grant; and Ben Franklin wisely looks out from the $100. Have a great week!