It's that time of year again: March Mania. It's a sports fan's paradise, especially here in Oklahoma, where over the next 22 days, hockey, hoops, hardball, hooves and horsepower will be featured in a virtual nonstop slate of sporting events sure to satisfy even the most avid fanatic.
There is a little something for everyone on tap as spring rolls around and the masses begin finding their way out of winter hibernation.
Since temperatures are supposed to cool back down over the next few days, we'll start things off inside at the Big 12 basketball championships. The action figures to be hot as the men battle for an automatic NCAA Tourney bid at the Ford Center, while the ladies duke it out for the same prize across the street at the Cox Convention Center.
Twenty-two games will play out over a five-day span, beginning today at 11:30 a.m. when Nebraska and Baylor tip things off in the men's bracket.
While the Big 12 folks take center stage in downtown OKC through Sunday, the Thunder are on the road for a three-game stretch that takes them west. They are set to return home on Monday for a marquee contest against San Antonio.
Folks who have yet to take in a Thunder home game will get four opportunities over the next couple of weeks. Since Scott Brooks took over as head coach in late November, the team has become highly competitive and certainly worth the price of admission.
If the fast-paced tempo of the NBA is not enough, then maybe a little racing is what you need. If that's the case, you are in luck.
Remington Park's annual 50 Day Quarter Horse Meet opened on March 6 and is set to run through the end of May. Besides live racing every Thursday through Sunday starting March 19, there is a daily slate of simulcast races from tracks across the country.
If letting your heart race has a different meaning, then maybe a trip or two to the State Fair Speedway is what you have in mind. The racing season for USA Modified and Limited Modified divisions gets a green flag this Friday night.
The dirt track speedway features a regular Friday night racing slate through the spring and summer, with a few Saturdays thrown in for good measure, and even a Wednesday or two penciled into the mix.
Of course, if you didn't get your fill of exciting college hoops during the Big 12 tourneys, then here's a little encore event that is sure to satisfy your appetite. Billed as "The Next Stop Before The Last Stop," the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Regional is set to unfold at the Ford Center.
Hosted by the Big 12 Conference and the OKC All Sports Association, the regional is a two-day event (March 29 and 31) that will undoubtedly feature some of the best women's college hoops teams in the country.
Somewhat forgotten in the onslaught of March Mania are the Oklahoma Blazers, who return to the Cox Center from a 10-day hiatus on Tuesday to host the Rapid City Rush. Having already clinched a playoff berth, the Blazers will finish up the regular season with a home game against Wichita on March 21.
If none of the above really piques your interest, well, there's always college softball and baseball being played at some nearby venue. And the Oklahoma RedHawks minor league season is only a few weeks away.
For football fans already suffering withdrawals, the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz af2 season kicks off March 27.
So what are you waiting for? There's so much for sports fans to do and see and experience during March Mania, and it's all right here in your own back yard. "Jay C. Upchurch