Mitch Perry Report 3.25.13 - Florida is the basketball capital of America (for this week at least)

Three of the remaining team's in the NCAA's "Sweet 16" college basketball tournament hail from the Sunshine State: Florida, Miami and yes, Florida Gulf Coast University, who easily defeated San Diego State last night and is just two games away from making it to the elite Final Four.

All three teams were victorious in the final night that ended four furious days of televised hoops. Miami has become one of the great stories of the year in college hoops, while Florida has been consistently good, going back to their back-to-back national championships with Joakim Noah in 2006-2007.

But Florida GCU? Seriously, how many people knew who they were a week ago? I sure didn't. They've become this year's Butler or, if you prefer, George Mason or Gonzaga. You know, the little school that nobody ever heard of that's playing with the big boys? It definitely makes the tournament more fun.

As I've mentioned before, I'm more of an NBA fan, and the superior speed and talent of the professionals was never as evident to me as it was last night. While sitting in a spanking new sports bar in Ybor City (which I won't name because they're a big national chain), the style of play was obvious before I realized that the screen had switched to the Miami Heat-Charlotte Bobcats game.

The Heat, led by the incomparable LeBron James, defeated the Bobcats for their 26th straight win, the second longest in NBA history. They are an incredible story, and James is playing at an amazing level. I'm not really a Heat fan, but if you like basketball (and this is the time of year when lots of people say they do), then you can't help but appreciate what they're doing.

Meanwhile, on Saturday I attended a provocative conference about Cuba, which took place in Ybor and featured (among others) Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, best known as being Colin Powell's number two during his stint as Secretary of State during the beginning of the Iraq war. I also reported on Kathy Castor's speech at the event's Friday night conference at Mise en Place.

On Saturday afternoon in Wesley Chapel, about 50 activists descended upon House Speaker Will Weatherford's office, protesting his anti-Medicaid expansion stance (the demonstrators noted how Weatherford's family has benefited from Medicaid).

And yesterday, Rand Paul had a stint on Fox News Sunday, where his ideological stances made him one of the more interesting Republicans on the national stage, especially when he decried the prison sentencing of Americans busted for drug offenses.

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