Hot dates: March Madness comes to Charlotte

Duke guard Matt Jones (13) celebrates with teammate Duke guard Quinn Cook (2) as Duke defeated UNC 84-77 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC Saturday, March 7, 2015 in the final game of the regular season.
Duke guard Matt Jones (13) celebrates with teammate Duke guard Quinn Cook (2) as Duke defeated UNC 84-77 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC Saturday, March 7, 2015 in the final game of the regular season. cliddy@newsobserver.com

There’s no denying, the hottest dates in these parts this weeks: Hoops Charlotte-style. We’ve mentioned it before. Now it’s here. The NCAA mens basketball tournament, aka March Madness – the holiest month in college basketball – makes one of its stops at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday and Sunday for second and third round games.

Playing the Queen City: Duke v. winner of North Florida and Robert Morris; Virginia v. Belmont; Michigan State v. Georgia; and San Diego State v. St. John’s.

You can still score tickets from online ticket services. A few: For Vividseats.com click here. For Stubhub, here and the Charlotte-based Tickget, here. Warning: If you’ve waited this long, they’re not going to be cheap.

Thursday: The eight Charlotte-bound teams will practice for 40 minutes each – all free and open to the public. The first four teams will practice between noon and 2:55 p.m. and the second four between 4:25 p.m. to 7:20 p.m., said Tom Whitestone, associate athletic director at UNC Charlotte, the host school. “These practices are open to everyone, but mainly to fans who don’t have tickets,” Whitestone said.

Davidson dancing: The Wildcats had a splendid regular season, winning the Atlantic 10 Conference in its first season – but faltered in the conference tournament. Yet they are a 10th seed in the South region and will play Iowa on Friday.

Off the court:

Tuesday: “Kinky Boots,” in its first local run, opens at the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center as part of the PNB Broadway Lights series. It’s the story of a struggling British shoe factory that turns itself around by making footwear for transvestites. Kinky won six Tony Awards, including best musical, in 2013. Only a few tickets remain for each of the eight shows that run through Sunday. For times and available tickets click here.

A look at “Kinky Boots” on tour:

If you miss it this time, the musical will return to Charlotte for a Dec. 29 to Jan. 3 run. For tickets, click here.

Also Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Charlotte Observer: ​Book signing for The Observer’s new commemorative book, “Dean Smith: More Than a Coach.” Its 128 pages are filled with classic articles and photos of Smith, as well as a poignant foreword by former Smith point guard and assistant Coach Phil Ford. You’ll be able to buy the book at The Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., and meet a few of the contributing writers: Scott Fowler, Ron Green and Ron Green Jr.

The book (retails for $14.95 plus tax) includes more than 70 photos tracing Smith’s path from his playing days at the University of Kansas to his days as a Tar Heel assistant under Coach Frank McGuire to the big moments of his 36 years as UNC coach. There are columns by Bob Quincy after Smith’s first NCAA championship in 1982 against Georgetown and Ron Green after his second in 1993 against Michigan. It includes a story by Frank Barrows about the rivalry – at time turning nasty – between Smith and former Virginia Coach Terry Holland and by Ron Green Jr. recounting how Smith and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski pushed each other to unprecedented success.

Wednesday: 7:30 p.m.: George Winston: The famed solo pianist will play his Winter Show in a benefit for the Ada Jenkins Center and other groups. The show ranges from folk songs to New Orleans-style R&B to Vince Guaraldi’s “Peanuts” music. The show’s at Davidson’s St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 301 Caldwell Ln. Tickets, $50 to $100, www.carolinatix.org.

Thursday: 6:30 p.m., Disney Live! Mickey’s Magic Show: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and a team of Disney friends will pair up with magicians to perform magic from legendary Disney films. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 Independence Blvd. Details: www.ovensauditorium.com.

Opening Friday: “Insurgent,” with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the second of four films about a young woman whose differences threaten to tear her futuristic, conformist society apart. Opens Friday, March 20.

A glimpse of “Insurgent”:

Sleeper of the week: Also on Friday, Arbor Day in Davidson, 11 a.m., Roosevelt Wilson Park: The day that urges people to plant and care for trees will pay special tribute to Roy Alexander, the Davidson Land Conservancy’s first executive director who died unexpectedly in January. The Arbor Day Foundation recently recertified the college town as a Tree City USA, recognizing Davidson’s work to increase its tree canopy.

Saturday: 8 p.m., An Evening of Parlour Magic with Charlotte’s Chris Hannibal: A street magician and close-up wizard for 20 years, Hannibal won the International Federation of Magic Societies’ 2014 title for North American Parlour Magic. Duke Energy Theater, Spirit Square, 345 N. College St., $25. www.blumenthalarts.org.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061

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