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Basketball - Men's College

NCAA basketball universe revolves around Portland for a few days

    When a dozen towering young men in dark blue warm-up suits with orange trim settled beneath the chandeliers and ferns of Mother’s Bistro in Portland for breakfast, the onlooking coffee sippers knew this was no ordinary Wednesday.

    The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the economic engine of college sports’ governing body and a favorite office gamble, is back in Oregon after a 26-year hiatus. Eight of the nation’s top teams will play in first-round games today at the Rose Garden — including Illinois, the team breakfasting at Mother’s. The four surviving teams will play again Saturday before the event leaves Portland.

    More than just a sports contest, the tournament is a friendly invasion of athletes, coaches and fans, a three-week nationwide serial that showcases speculation and celebrates the little guy. For Portland, it’s also a boost to business during March’s gray days, especially amid a cratering U.S. economy.

    “On a scale from 1 to 10, I’d give it a 9,” said Deborah Wakefield, spokeswoman for visitors bureau Travel Portland. “Not only are they bringing these people in during a typically slow time of year, but there’s also television.”

    — Excerpt from, March 18, 2009


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