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WALLY HALL: N.C. bounces back as NCAA Tournament site

Just two weeks after North Carolina voted to repeal parts of a law that limited protections of certain people, the NCAA lifted its boycott of the state and awarded it three NCAA Tournament first-round sites over the next four years.

Games in March scheduled for Greensboro, N.C., were moved to Greenville, S.C., where the North Carolina Tar Heels started their march to the NCAA championship.

It was announced Tuesday that Charlotte will serve as a tournament site next March; Greensboro is back in play in 2020; and Raleigh will host in 2021.

If the great state of Arkansas had not amended its law that allowed guns in sporting events, it would have been put on the banned list.

If where someone goes to the bathroom is a big enough issue to get you banned, think what the chances of getting shot would do.

Granted, it's a long shot we'll ever get another shot at the NCAA Tournament because of a lack of ribbon boards and an outdated scoreboard in Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.

The Greenville arena spent millions of dollars adding ribbon boards (the advertising boards that are between upper and lower bowls) and a new scoreboard. It wasn't management of the arena or even a title sponsor that paid the bill; it was the entire community coming together to raise the money.

Greenville was not awarded another tournament (despite very high marks from this reporter), and it may have been because of a restroom problem. There were not enough rooms for resting.

There was one for men and one for women in the area for more than 500 credentialed media, and each of those were for single use at a time.

It also was announced Tuesday that the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville would host the NCAA golf championships in 2019 and the indoor track and field championships in 2021. That most likely would not have happened if the gun law had not been amended.


Just a little explaining is necessary to understand why Oaklawn Park could, but probably won't, have eight entries -- or 40 percent of the 20-horse field -- in the Kentucky Derby.

The early favorite, Classic Empire, needs no explanation, nor does Malagacy (13th in total Derby points).

Four came out of the Arkansas Derby just outside of the necessary points and are waiting to see whether anyone scratches. So Untrapped (No. 21), Looking At Lee (No. 22), Sonneteer (No. 23) and Royal Mo (No. 24) will wait.

That's six, but Conquest Mo Money -- the second-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby -- has plenty of points but was not nominated for the Triple Crown. The late fee for entry is $200,000, or exactly what he won Saturday.

The last horse with a shot is the most intriguing. Hence broke his maiden at Oaklawn on Jan. 16, which gave trainer Steve Asmussen his 500th Oaklawn win.

Hence, bred and owned by world famous Calumet Farms, moved on to the Southwest Stakes -- a prep race for the Arkansas and Kentucky Derbies -- but finished seventh.

He was shipped to Sunland Park and at 10-1 rolled from the back of the pack to a more than 3-lengths win in the Sunland Derby, putting away Conquest Mo Money in the process.

Hence will be a long shot. His off-the-pace running style isn't always conducive in the Kentucky Derby because you have to pass a field of mostly tiring horses. He's also lightly raced -- having run just six times, winning twice -- but the track where he has run the most races is Oaklawn, home of champions.

Sports on 04/20/2017

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