The Kickoff

March 15, 2007|By PAUL MCMULLEN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Great to be in the land of Southern hospitality.

It's about an 80-mile drive from RDU (the Raleigh-Durham Airport) to the Lawrence Joel Coliseum. I stopped midway for coffee in Burlington at one of the state's 4 million Waffle Houses. The wait staff asked more pointed questions than the White House press corps.

"What are you down here for?"

"Who you rooting for?"

"Where you from?"

The woman who served me said she was born in Hyattsville, and is a Duke fan. She was promptly shouted down by Martha, who wanted to talk about her family in Sykesville. The other waitress was born in Easton. Can't remember if she had lived on the Eastern Shore in Powellville or Pittsville. A land baron I know in Snow Hill calls them the Twin Cities.

If not the smallest city to host the NCAA tournament, Winston-Salem is close. That's not a negative.

For more of Paul McMullen's NCAA tournament Web exclusive reports, go to

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