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Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Welcome to the show ...

By Mechelle Voepel
Special to

Since the 3-watt radio station, KROK, that carried my first-ever NCAA women's selection show at 3:37 a.m. Monday morning can barely be heard across the street, let alone nationwide, here is a transcript of the broadcast. Journalistic integrity forces me to run it in its entirety:

Cheryl Ford
The sleeves will be gone this year, but Cheryl Ford will be back at La. Tech.
MV: Hi, everyone. Now that we've had time to look over the bracket, I'd like to not only offer my thoughts but those of a little-known statistics expert who's taken up an interest the past few years in women's hoops, Alma Wamego.

ALMA: Good Lord, what time is it?

MV: It's tournament time, Alma, and I can't tell you how thrilled we are that you've agreed to be on this show. I know you've lived a Harper Lee-like existence, so our listeners are probably unfamiliar with you. Could you please tell them a little about yourself?

ALMA: Well, you know, I can't be too specific, the government won't allow that. But I grew up a typical Midwestern farm girl until I took an aptitude test for mathematics ... next thing I knew I was at Georgetown and then Oxford and then ... that's about all I can say. The rest is supposed to be de-classified in 3012.

MV: About when Louisiana Tech gets rid of the sleeved jerseys, right? Speaking of that, what did you think of Tech and Old Dominion not getting to host in the NCAA Tournament?

ALMA: Well, you know that's the way the RPI bounces, I guess. Although I heard some computers at ODU exploded trying to figure out how it got a No. 7 seed. Oh, well, hosting is overrated anyway ...

MV: You're kidding, right?

ALMA: My Kansas girl Jackie Stiles led Southwest Missouri State to the Final Four last year from the No. 5 seed, or have you forgotten already?

MV: Of course not, but haven't like 90-plus percent of all hosts made it to the Sweet 16? I mean, you are the math expert, right?

ALMA: I was almost positive that letter you sent me said this show was 3:37 p.m. not a.m.

MV: There may have been a typo ... speaking of which, did you think ESPN made a typo when that Midwest bracket came up with Vandy and Tennessee as Nos. 1 and 2?

ALMA: If they're the overall fourth and fifth teams of 64, that's what should have happened.

MV: But are they really the fourth and fifth teams? Is that accurate?

ALMA: I do statistics, not speculation.

MV: Yes, and Tennessee was No. 1 in the RPI.

ALMA: So it can't be the fifth-best team?

MV: Well, I don't know. Everybody in the SEC is talking about how unfair it is, basing it on them losing in the league tournament semifinals to LSU. But nobody mentions Tennessee losing at home last month to Texas, which finished fifth in the Big 12, and I wonder how that impacted the committee's decision. And nobody in the SEC thinks Vandy didn't deserve a No. 1 so that leaves ...

ALMA: I just found the letter; it did say p.m. ...

MV: Who could they take that other No. 1 seed away from? Oklahoma, which won the Big 12 tournament and regular-season title? Or Duke, which did the same in the ACC? Or does the SEC know a way to have five No. 1 seeds?

ALMA: I told my neighbor, Gertrude, I was going to be on the radio Monday afternoon.

MV: I'm torn, really. The thing is, you just never expect Tennessee to lose in the tournament. I know Xavier beat 'em last year, and UConn beat 'em in 2000 and Duke beat 'em in '99. But part of me is still sitting in Kemper Arena in 1998 watching that Final Four I got stuck with where there wasn't even one close game.

ALMA: It's all about you, I guess.

MV: Well, that was my Final Four, Alma, and Kristin Folkl didn't ...

ALMA: Oh, that reminds me, I heard Stanford is upset about not getting any respect. Fans are saying nobody has ever respected them, but I seem to remember when you wouldn't shut up about them.

MV: They're ticked at me for that chat I did while I was at the Olympics, where somebody asked where I'd send my kid, and I said Duke or a Big 12 school. What I didn't say was I'll colonize Neptune before I have a kid. Do you know how much time kids take away from watching basketball? How could I have correctly predicted where all four No. 1 seeds would go if I were responsible for a kid?

ALMA: Even the blind squirrel will sometimes find an acorn, they say. Even a shot in the dark might accidentally hit the target. Even a broken clock is right twice a day ...

MV: Yeah, whatever. So do you think with seven host seeds, this is the year for the Big 12 to make the Final Four?

ALMA: Well, three of 'em are in the West Region, so technically the league has only four chances to make the Final Four. But four's a lot, too. Except, well, one of 'em, Kansas State, is in UConn's region. So ... it's maybe more like three chances.

MV: You're in the UConn-can't-lose camp?

ALMA: Isn't everyone?

MV: There's no good answer to that. If I say yes, people think I'm part of the UConn media cheerleading squad. If I say no, the UConn people think I'm part of the UConn-bashing squad.

ALMA: Let me get out the Mrs. Butterworth's ...

MV: I'm not waffling. I just don't know the right answer.

ALMA: Where I'm from, that's waffling. By the way, what kind of radio show is this? Don't you invite people to call in?

MV: Yes, of course, let's open the phone lines ...

(Transcript pause, silence for several minutes.)

MV: There seems to be just a little technical trouble, so while we're getting that fixed, tell me what you think of Duke? Vandy's Jim Foster and Tennessee's Pat Summitt think the Blue Devils should have been bumped from the No. 1 seed. They didn't say it in so many words, but that's exactly what they were talking about when they were saying, "Look at the strength of the conferences."

ALMA: Well, the ACC's not the best it's ever been, for sure. But you go 16-0 and win the league tournament ... seems like Duke didn't do anything to give the committee a reason not to give them a No. 1 seed.

MV: Like they didn't lose in their conference tournament semifinals?

ALMA: That's right.

MV: Anybody from beyond the top 16 we ought to be looking out for?

ALMA: I'll give you a hint: They wear sleeved jerseys.

CALLER: Hey, what's going on in there?

MV: What?

CALLER: I'm the maintainance man here at KROK, and I want to know what you're doing up there in the studio.

MV: Do you have a question or comment about the NCAA Tournament?

CALLER: How dumb do you think people are?

MV: Uhhh ...

CALLER: Alma Wamego? That's an exit sign off I-70 not far from Manhattan, Kan., where K-State is. My grandmother lives in Wamego. My ex-wife's cousin's half-brother lives in Alma. Who are you trying to fool? I heard you were talking to buildings a few years ago, now you're making up people ...

MV: I'm sorry but you must be calling in on a cell phone, because you're breaking up. I thought I heard you say that your grandmother is picking K-State. And that's nice -- it's that time of year, when you can think about anything being possible.

ALMA: I just hope it's possible for me to go back to sleep now.

Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to She can be reached at