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.

The Lean Green

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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