The Lean Green

In about eight minutes or so, please send UNT coach Johnny Jones your warmest wishes and prayers. He and his team will need them so.

Take it from a guy who's in 1,106,094th place in ESPN's bracket contest, the University of North Texas has a real shot today (as in, right now) against Memphis. To stay close, that is. There are reasons to believe the Mean Green and their 26-year-old ex-Marine can upset the Tigers and screw up millions of brackets in their 11:30 a.m. tip from New Orleans, just not enough.

It's St. Patrick's Day weekend, and I think we all know which team suits up in green. Both teams play up-tempo, low-structure games. At times, in fact, the teams will look so similar you'd think it was the varsity scrimmaging the jayvees.

And there is another other reason: UNT coach Johnny Jones, a native of DeRidder, Louisiana, was an assistant coach for Memphis from 1997-'99 and interim coach at the end of the 1999-2000 season. But when the school got around to hiring a permanent coach, Jones somehow didn't even get an interview. John Calipari, who landed the job, will be opposite Jones today. "Let's just say I'm looking forward to playing against a team I'm familiar with," Jones says. Gimme UNT. That is, plus the 18. --Richie Whitt

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