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KU links: The end of the line for the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap; update from Topeka high-schooler who received KU scholarship offer

Your weekly set of KU tidbits from around the Internet, which I'm afraid must begin on a sad note:

• The chicken tenders were perfectly aligned. The ranch dressing was well-distributed. The cheddar cheese was ready with its sharp kick. And the underrated but dependable tortilla was always there, holding it all together. It felt like destiny. But sometimes, in the cutthroat world of the Cooking Channel Best College Eats tournament, you run into something that looks like a shovel filled with spaghetti and chili, and you lose. You know you gave it your all, but it hurts just the same.

In the bracket of the best college food, or at least in this particular one that the Cooking Channel put together this spring, 31 food items have to go home unhappy. They're left to hold out hope for next year, or whenever someone else has the idea to put together an online bracket for college-campus food. This is the fate of the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap.

But, wrap fans, consider: Just because it lost to that chili-spaghetti thing from Marquette in the Elite 8, by a count of 4,192 votes to 3,309, that doesn't mean that its whole year was a failure. We'll always have our memories of its glorious tournament run. Let's savor them.

• As the Journal-World's Sara Shepherd notes here, the KU Wind Ensemble earned itself a some glowing words in reviews by The New York Times and a New York music website after its performance at Carnegie Hall last week. It will make an encore performance for free at the Lied Center on Tuesday.

• We've got an update on our old friend Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka high-schooler blogging about his college choice for The New York Times who received a scholarship offer from KU. He writes today about the experience of receiving a rejection from Washington University in St. Louis. "I'm one step closer to KU," he told his friends, and he says he considers KU "a fantastic school." He's still waiting to hear from Brown, Stanford and Yale — or at least he was when the post was written — so he's not sure where he's going yet.

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cited the research of William Elliott, an assistant professor of social welfare at KU, on the subject of college savings accounts for children. We reported earlier this year on the research he and others at the School of Social Welfare have done on the subject.

• This story on Yahoo! News reports that Steven Hawley, a KU professor of astronomy and astrophysics and a former astronaut, is helping the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson conserve and display a NASA rocket engine retrieved from the ocean floor by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com.

Perhaps you're now adrift, having assumed you'd be spending all of your time this week clicking to vote for the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap. But don't worry; you can expend that energy sending KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com instead.

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    KU Unions mobilizing to get out the chicken-wrap vote

    I admit it feels a bit funny, filing updates for you all on how many people are clicking on a "vote" button for a chicken wrap as part of a cable-channel promotion, but all the evidence out there suggests a lot of you are into it, so I'm going to continue.

    The KU Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap has moved on to the Elite 8 of the Cooking Channel's college food bracket, but it faces a stiff challenge in this round from the Marquette University entry, which received more than 10,000 votes during the last round to KU's 2,500 or so.

    The Marquette entry — a dish at a Milwaukee chili restaurant just called "The Marquette" — appears to be a plate of spaghetti topped with chili and about 6 pounds of sour cream and cheese. (The Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap isn't exactly light fare — it's got 735 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat, according to the KU Dining Services online nutrition site — but it doesn't sound as bad for you as the other stuff remaining, including something from Baylor called the "Gut Pak.")

    This all may be kind of funny and allow me to type "Gut Pak," but the KU Memorial Unions are treating this as a serious chance to get some media exposure. Claudia Larkin, the Unions' marketing director, came to see me during Heard on the Hill Office Hours this morning and tells me the staff have had "strategic planning meetings" each step along the way during this bracket process (and I think that was only a little bit of a joke).

    The KUcrunchtime.com URL the Unions bought has gotten quite a few hits, she said, they'll be sending posters and banners around campus as things warm up here and now they're printing "thousands" of stickers for students to take and further their crunchy chicken cause.

    A sign in front of the Kansas Union.

    A sign in front of the Kansas Union. by Matt Erickson

    KU is winning the matchup with Marquette narrowly as I type this late Wednesday afternoon. You can vote here.

    We've got you covered on the chicken-wrap front, but you can send your tips from all other areas of KU news to merickson@ljworld.com.

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    KU links: KU men’s basketball team reaches title game in academic bracket; Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap advances in college food tourney

    Your spring break edition of KU tidbits from around the Internet:

    • The KU men's and women's basketball teams will hit the court in their NCAA Tournaments today and tomorrow, but the results are already in for the publication Inside Higher Ed's annual Academic Performance Tournament. So you can go ahead and distribute prizes for your office pools in that area.

    The tournament is a fun little exercise that uses the same seeds and bracket as the basketball tournaments but advances teams based on their Academic Progress Rate—the NCAA's measure of academic performance for each team. A graduation-rate measure is used as a tiebreaker.

    APR gives each athletic program at each school a score based on how many players stay in school and remain eligible to play. It doesn't penalize programs for athletes who leave early to play professionally, as long as they are in good academic standing when they leave.

    The KU men's team has performed as well in the academic tourney in recent years as it has in, well, basketball. It won the whole thing last year, and this year it made the title game before running into the buzzsaw that is Belmont University (man, those "B" teams, huh?). Memphis and Butler also made the Final Four.

    The men's team's APR is a perfect 1,000 for each of the past four years published by the NCAA here. The women's team's score is a bit lower — 982 in the most recent year published. As such, the team was knocked out in the first round by Colorado in Inside Higher Ed's corresponding women's tournament.

    • Speaking of brackets: The KU Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap has moved on to the Sweet 16 of the Cooking Channel's college food tournament, where it faces some honey buns from Syracuse University. It defeated some Iowa State cherry pies in the first round, by a margin of 4,257 to 3,904. (The University of Missouri's entry lost in the first round.)

    • We told you a few weeks back that Kim Wilcox, a former dean of liberal arts and sciences at KU, had managed to be named a finalist in two different state universities' search for a new leader (both of which go by the acronym UW, no less). But now each of the UWs has chosen someone else. The University of Wisconsin-Madison picked Rebecca Blank, the acting U.S. secretary of commerce, while the University of Wyoming went with Robert Sternberg, the provost at Oklahoma State University.

    We are sure you have spent your spring break, if you get one, resting calmly and reserving energy for the final two months of the semester. Get yourself started up again today by sending in a few KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.

    Reply 2 comments from Armen Kurdian Tristan Moody

    KU chicken cheddar wrap lands on Cooking Channel college food bracket

    Everybody loves a bracket this time of year, so much so that after 12 seconds of Google work I found at least one publication that published a jokey "bracket of brackets" in each of the last three years.

    Well, here's one I've not seen before: The Cooking Channel has put together a bracket of 32 different college campus food items from around the country. They'll battle it out over the next few weeks via an online vote.

    And included is KU's own Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap, served at Brellas at several Dining Services spots on campus: the Kansas Union, in the Underground at Wescoe and at the Burge Union. I certainly had a few of those in my day.

    In the first round KU is up against none other than Iowa State, its opponent in men's basketball in a few hours here, which is represented by some mini cherry pies. A potential matchup with the University of Missouri representative, the restaurant Booches Burgers, lurks in the championship match.

    I'm sure you might feel pumped up and ready to defeat Iowa State, but voting (located here) for the KU first-round matchup does not appear to have begun yet.

    I (or perhaps an alert reader in the comments?) will try to update this post when voting is open.

    The promotion also includes recipes adapted from each of the items, so now you can make your own chicken cheddar wrap at home. The recipe says it will take you about an hour and 45 minutes, though that's assuming you make your own ranch dressing.

    We here at Heard on the Hill hope your spring break, if you get one, is tasty and refreshing. We're taking our own break here, but not for a whole week like you crazy college kids out there. We'll be back late next week.

    Meanwhile, use some of that break time to send a KU news tip to merickson@ljworld.com.

    UPDATE: As noted by the alert reader below, voting is now open for KU's first-round match. And the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap is winning with about 60 percent of the vote, as of 12:30 p.m. Saturday. You can vote right here.

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