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Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, center watches play between Dayton and Stanford during the first half in a regional semifinal game at the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NCAA tournament: Even Sherman and Rice can’t help Stanford
First Published Mar 28 2014 08:58 am • Last Updated Mar 28 2014 11:33 pm

Welcome back to BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all offbeat NCAA tournament needs. In today’s edition, we plumb Richard Sherman’s psyche, debunk Peyton Manning’s talismanic quality, examine Mitch McConnell’s phobia and go channel-surfing with John Calipari. Without further ado:

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CELEBRITY ALUM(S) OF THE DAY

Stanford was getting sliced-and-diced again as the second half began, right in front of his eyes. Somebody had to step in.

"They need a lockdown defender," a member of the CBS broadcast crew said.

Conveniently, one happened to be sitting nearby. Two if you count Condoleezza Rice.

Richard Sherman’s seat at the South Regional in Memphis was a row in front of hers (from Twitter: http://bit.ly/OZBii9 ). But then he got his tickets from Tim Tebow (same agent.).

Rice has been a fellow, a professor and the provost at Stanford, and U.S. Secretary of State, but apparently she doesn’t have as much pull. Either way, and other than Dayton clocking the old alma mater 82-72, they appeared to be having a grand time.

You might recall that Sherman, who plays cornerback for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, made sideline reporting hazardous duty for a few minutes a few months ago (via YouTube.com: http://bit.ly/1g5GN4H ).

But Thursday night, he was his off-the-field self, which is to say both engaging and chilled when AP freelancer Clay Bailey asked whether it was tough watching his team get beat without jumping in.


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"Not when it’s not your sport," Sherman replied coolly. "It’s easier to watch when it’s not your sport."

That explains a lot.

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CELEBRITY ALUM OF TOMORROW?

Meanwhile, the last guy who crossed Richard Sherman’s path in his sport probably regrets it still.

That would be his opponent in the Super Bowl nearly two months ago, Denver Broncos quarterback and Tennessee alum Peyton Manning.

Manning’s Vols face Michigan on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium — aka "The House That Peyton Built," by turning the once-sorry Indianapolis Colts franchise into a powerhouse before he left town in late 2011. Even if he doesn’t put in an appearance during the game, someone asked Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin whether some of the old Manning magic might rub off on his team.

"I hope so," Martin said. "He’s texted me several times wishing us good luck."

Decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing. There’s the recent Super Bowl loss, then there’s the time Manning turned up at the women’s Final Four at Indy in 2005, when Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols lost to Michigan State. And just last October, the Colts spoiled Manning’s "homecoming" and ended Denver’s quest for an unbeaten season with a 39-33 win.

The Vols will understand if he has a previous commitment to honor — somewhere else.

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