Pretty much everybody I know can't wait for this Final Four, in a different way than when they couldn't wait for last year's Final Four, because George Mason was such a complete unknown and you could expect anything to happen. There's really a different buzz when all four teams in are the absolute cream of the crop, and proved it in getting here. After all, check the two No. 2 seeds, Georgetown and UCLA - can you ask them to have beaten two better teams from two more storied programs (North Carolina, Kansas) more convincingly? The one everyone's drooling over is Georgetown-Ohio State, the first game, but it seems sacrilegious to shortchange the nightcap, Florida-UCLA, even though we've seen Florida already and we don't really want to see UCLA and the way they play.
* Prediction: sticking to the last vestiges of respectability in my bracket. Georgetown over Ohio State, 77-71, and Florida over UCLA, 60-55.
* Speaking of the joy of just being here, of the type George Mason reveled in (hard to forget Lamar Butler asking if he could keep the nametag off the interview table), this year's award goes to the Hoyas, who really seem to be enjoying this more than the others. At least collectively. Individuals at UCLA and Ohio State look like they're having fun - Mike Conley, for instance, spent a half-hour answering the same four or five questions over and over and never even rolled an eye. With Georgetown, JTIII took another step away from the image his father created by actually cracking wise at the podium: he was informed that there was time for two more questions, and the next one was about whether his team was worried about playing in a dome since the last time it did, at Syracuse at the end of the season, it lost. JTIII's answer: "No. (pause) We can add another question, since that answer was so short.'' At the other end of it, Greg Oden answered the same handful of questions a million times and hung in there pretty well, but he looked and sounded as if he's answered the same questions a million times.
* As for Florida, they pounded the "everybody hates us'' theme to within an inch of its life. Joakim Noah, naturally, threw his personality into it - at one point he talked about last year's team being hungry, and this year's team being hungry but seeing "filet mignon and salami and all your favorite foods being thrown around everywhere.'' Seriously, what can beat filet mignon and salami? In fact, it's what Atlanta's known for. Oddly, Noah might be the only reason everyone isn't actually hating this team by Monday night.
* It's a big sporting event in a warm-weather southern city, so of course it was cold and rainy when the plane landed.
* Try this out in your city: how many places are named after people who are still alive? Between the airport and downtown, you can find three here: Turner Field, Andrew Young International Blvd. and the Carter Center.
* Biggest media crowds around players: Oden, Noah and Roy Hibbert. You know, that's three big men at one Final Four. That's kind of like a theme. I hope nobody else noticed before we write about it.
* Honest and true, up close Oden does look his age - because everybody knew a guy who looked grown way before everybody else, deep voice, facial hair, the whole thing. He just looks like a 19 year old who's looked 19 since he was about 12.
* Of all the sons of famous fathers - alert! tomorrow's column! - no one looks more like the old man than Patrick Ewing Jr. He also inherited the verbal tics, in this case the phrase "most definitely.'' By the way, it was one more step toward the bran flakes for me when it sunk in that I covered Ewing and Doc Rivers and remember when Patrick and Jeremiah were kids. Not to mention vividly recalling Tito Horford in the Capital Classic, kicking Danny Ferry's All-American behind up and down the court. Ferry is now the G.M. in Cleveland and has been very accessible and quotable over the years, and he probably didn't need to be reminded of that.
* Very brief airport and hotel sightings: Calvin Hill, TNT's Craig Sager, Bill Raftery, who was in ... amantoman!
* Did I say it was cold and rainy outside? To paraphrase Dr. Evil, it's frickin' freezing inside the Dome, as it is inside most domes. Time to head back to the (hopefully) warmer hotel and get ready to freeze again tomorrow.