Today in sports: Syracuse has suspended starting center Fab Melo for the duration of the NCAA tournament, David Cameron is going to get to see tonight's NCAA play-in game, and the NFL is cracking down on violations of unwritten rules.
The NCAA tournament officially begins tonight with the play-in game between Western Kentucky and Mississippi Valley State. Most office brackets do not require you to pick this game, since the only thing the winner receives is the chance to play and almost certainly lose to Kentucky, but check your bracket to make sure. We cannot emphasize this enough: placing second in an office pool because you forgot to choose a winner in the game in a box off to the side is a terrible experience. We speak from experience. [AP]
British Prime Minister will not be receiving a state dinner or a 21-gun salute when he comes to the U.S., but he will get to join Barack Obama in Dayton tonight to watch that Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State matchup. [AP]
Ooh, something else worth considering before you fill in your bracket, especially if you were inclined to pick Syracuse to win a national title: the school has announced that center Fab Melo, above, won't play in the tournament due to "an eligibility issue." Melo was suspended for three games earlier in the season due to academics. [ESPN]
In other college basketball news: South Carolina announced the firing of head coach Darrin Horn after four singularly unimpressive seasons, while UCLA confirmed Ben Howland will be back next season, despite that lengthy and unflattering Sports Illustrated article about him earlier this month. [ESPN]
Randy Moss, right, is back in the NFL after signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Comeback attempts by wide receivers in their mid-30s with reputations for being less-than-ideal clubhouse influences tend, at best, to be a bit of a mixed bag, which didn't stop the 49ers from offering Moss a contract after a 15-minute perfunctory workout at team headquarters. Moss -- who currently ranks second all-time with 153 touchdown receptions -- offered a reminder of why professional football is more exciting with Randy Moss during a meet-and-greet with members of the Bay Area press, in which he called a female reporter "sweetheart" and blamed "the worldwide sports media" for the perception that he's a bit of a handful. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Speaking of handfuls: former New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury -- who is now a member of the Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks -- is denying he punched a fan in a postgame melee Sunday following the team's loss in a playoff game to the Xanxi Brave Dragons. Video and still photos of the scene also aren't showing the alleged punch. Marbury told the state-run China Daily he couldn't have thrown even if he wanted to, because team security guards were in his way.[AP]
The NFL has casually docked the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys millions of dollars in salary cap space -- $36 million for Washington, $10 million for Dallas -- less than 24 hours before the start of free agency. That seems curiously timed and unfair, since the penalty is being imposed on both franchise for allegedly ignoring an unwritten league directive instructing teams not to ruin things for everyone by shedding bad contracts in 2010, when the league operated without a salary cap. But in defense of the league: how are teams supposed to know which unwritten rules to obey and which ones to completely ignore without these kind of bare-knuckle etiquette lessons? [The New York Times]