The Center Square by Alan Wooten

In a tense election year and Beltway battles left and right, North Carolina Congresswoman Deborah Ross has dropped in a touch of levity.

March Madness, Tobacco Road style.

The two-term Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, challenged in November by Republican Alan Swain and the Green Party's Michael Dublin, posted a tournament bracket coinciding with the ballyhooed NCAA basketball tournaments for men and women. She reduced the entries to 16, and every one of them is a favorite from Murphy to Manteo.

Her social media post says, “Of course - #NC02 for the win” in reference to her district in the Triangle.
Left side of the bracket: Eastern barbecue and western barbecue; Cheerwine and sweet tea; Cook Out and Krispy Kreme; and Christmas trees and sweet potatoes.

Right side of the bracket: Outer Banks and the Blue Ridge Mountains; N.C. State and Carolina; dogwoods and cardinals; and Raleigh and Charlotte.

The pork and college choices can even split a household – for a bit anyway. Cheerwine (1917, Salisbury), Krispy Kreme (1937, Winston-Salem) and Cook Out (1989, Greensboro) have native beginnings. Sweet potatoes are one of three agriculture industries for which the state is No. 1 nationally in production, and it is No. 2 in Christmas trees.

The dogwood, of which there are three species in the state, is the official state flower, and the cardinal is the official state bird.