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A Bird's-Eye View

Earl Bowles steadied himself as he stepped over the first row of seats in Section U33, way up above the court at the Georgia Dome. His black orthopedic shoes wobbled slightly as he stepped from the orange folding seat onto the concrete aisle. He sank down into the seat and peered out over the railing. Now this is a good view.

"You can see the plays open up a little bit clearer from up here," Bowles said. "Plus, I like to walk around."

Bowles is a lifelong North Carolina fan, but the he climbed up to the upper bowl of the arena to get a better look at the Tar Heels' next opponent. When he sat down, roughly 14 minutes remained in the first-round matchup between Virginia Tech and Miami. The winner would face his beloved Tar Heels. This was serious business.

"I want to see which team is better," he said. "I thought Miami was a tough team, but Virginia Tech seems to have the upper hand right now."

At that point, the Hokies held a 10-point lead, and Miami had just turned the ball over.

Bowles's actual seats are in Section 130, but that's down in one of the arena's corners where the view isn't as good. Plus, he was seated next to a family of four and he thought they could use some space for a while. Oh, and his seats are located among a thicket of Wake Forest fans. He thought he could use some space for a while, too.

A retired banker ("A good one," he said. "Not one of those who've been giving out bad mortgages.") from Riceville, N.C., Bowles wore earphones around his neck. He likes to listen to Woody Durham's broadcasts. "He's been around forever," Bowles said.

But for a few moments, he could do without the ear buds. Bowles doesn't think North Carolina guard Ty Lawson (toe injury) will play tomorrow in the quarterfinals. That's what Coach Roy Williams has been saying, anyway. But who knows?

"I never know what to believe," Bowles said. "They say he's not playing and then they give him an injection in his toe and he's good to go."

Bowles leaned back in his chair and took in the view. He said Miami needs to get something going quick. Virginia Tech's lead ballooned to 20, but Bowles said it only takes a few three-pointers to get back into it, and the Hurricanes sure have some good shooters.

The Hokies ended up winning, 65-47, and Bowles was okay with that. His Tar Heels can beat either squad, he said. And then he got up and left, in search of another view.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 12, 2009; 1:53 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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