🪄 Luka Magic

Should he win MVP?

Good Morning! WARNING: In seven days, we will have a bracket. The final weekend of regular-season play in men’s college basketball closed with a bang, while conference tournament hardware was dished out on the women’s side. Nets were cut down, favorites were tripped up, and NCAA Tournament bids were handed around. We also had another busy 72 hours in the NBA and NHL, an enthralling Sunday in the Premier League, and more gold captured by the USWNT. Plus, the first quarterback domino fell late last night on the eve of NFL free agency, and, “Scottie learned how to putt… uh oh!” Blitz country — Let’s ride!

WTF Stat: Houston men’s basketball’s 76-46 win over Kansas on Saturday was the Jayhawks' first 30-point Big 12 loss since 2000. Additionally, it was the first time Kansas scored fewer than 50 points against a Big 12 opponent in program history - the Jayhawks joined the Big 12 when it was founded in 1996, and the last time they scored less than 50 points against a conference opponent was in 1982 versus Missouri as a member of the Big 8.

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏈 NFL free agency begins today. At noon ET, teams can begin negotiating contracts with free agents - agreed-upon deals cannot become official until Wednesday at 4:00pm ET

🏈 Steelers and former Broncos QB Russell Wilson have agreed to a 1-year, $1.2M contract - Wilson, 35, was released by the Broncos last week after a rocky two-year stint and will still be paid $38M by Denver in 2024

🏈 Buccaneers and QB Baker Mayfield have agreed to a new 3-year, $100M contract with $50M guaranteed and a max value of $115M - Mayfield signed a 1-year, $4M deal with Tampa Bay last offseason before leading the team to the NFC South title and a wild-card win

🏈 Chiefs and All-Pro DT Chris Jones have agreed to a record new 5-year, $159M contract with $95M guaranteed, making him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive tackle - Jones’ average salary of $31.8M surpasses Rams DT Aaron Donald’s average salary of $31.6M

🏈 Jaguars are finalizing a trade to acquire Patriots QB Mac Jones in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick - the trade cannot be processed until the new league year begins Wednesday and Jones passes a physical

🥊 Sean O’Malley defeated Marlon Vera via unanimous decision to retain the bantamweight belt at UFC 299 on Saturday in Miami - in the co-main event, lightweight Dustin Poirier defeated Benoit Saint Denis via knockout in the second round

🏎️ Max Verstappen comfortably won the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday for his second victory in as many races this season - Verstappen, the three-time reigning F1 champion, now has a 15-point lead through two races

🏎️ Christopher Bell won the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix on Sunday for his first victory of the 2024 season

🏀 College Hoops Conference Catch-Up

Photo: Blue Blood | Source: USA Today

Men’s College Basketball - Regular-Season Finales

  • #7 North Carolina 84, #9 Duke 79: The Tar Heels earned their first outright ACC regular-season title in seven years on Saturday night by completing a season sweep of arch-rival Duke, as senior Cormac Ryan (31 PTS, 6-8 3PT) dropped a career-high thanks to six trifectas for a wire-to-wire win over Kyle Filipowski (23 PTS, 7 REB) and the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor - there was some familiar rivalry testiness, as Filipowski intentionally tripped Harrison Ingram (14 PTS, 10 REB) in the first half and the Cameron Crazies threw drinks at the Carolina team while they were taunting the crowd after the game

  • #1 Houston 76, #14 Kansas 46: Houston claimed the outright Big 12 regular-season championship in their first season in the conference with an emphatic victory on their home floor over Hunter Dickinson (11 PTS, 6 REB) and Kansas, as Jamal Shead (13 PTS, 6 REB, 8 AST) and company jumped out to a 34-9 lead and didn’t look back, marking the Cougars’ ninth-straight win and all but securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament - Dickinson left the game in the second half with a dislocated shoulder, and Houston’s last loss came at Kansas on Feb. 3 (78-65)

  • #15 Kentucky 85, #4 Tennessee 81: The soon-to-be-named SEC Player of the Year Dalton Knecht (40 PTS, 14-29 FG, 4 REB) did everything he could for the Vols, but Antonio Reeves (27 PTS, 7 REB) and Reaves Sheppard (27 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) were too much, and Kentucky survived a late Tennessee run to pick up a statement win in Knoxville on Saturday - the loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Tennessee, who clinched the SEC title on Wednesday

  • USC 78, #5 Arizona 65: The Wildcats clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title on Thursday with a win over UCLA but suffered the upset of the weekend at the hands of USC, as DJ Rodman (19 PTS, 7 REB) and Kobe Johnson (19 PTS, 4 AST, 6 STL) led the sub-.500 Trojans past Oumar Ballo (17 PTS, 10 REB) and Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday - Bronny James (20 MIN, 5 PTS, 6 REB, 2 STL) had a nice steal and slam with his father, LeBron, watching from the stands

See the full NCAAM scoreboard here and the current rankings here.

Power 6 Regular-Season Conference Champions

Key: Current AP Ranking, Team (Overall Record | Conference Record)

  • ACC: #7 North Carolina (25-6 | 17-3)

    • ACC Tournament begins Tues. March 12

  • Big East: #2 UConn (28-3 | 18-2)

    • Big East Tournament begins Tues. March 12

  • Big Ten: #3 Purdue (28-3 | 17-3)

    • Big Ten Tournament begins Wed. March 13

  • Big 12: #1 Houston (28-3 | 15-3)

    • Big 12 Tournament begins Tues. March 12

  • Pac-12: #5 Arizona (24-7 | 15-5)

    • Pac-12 Tournament begins Wed. March 13

  • SEC: #4 Tennessee (24-7 | 14-4)

    • SEC Tournaments begins Wed. March 13

See all of the final regular-season conference standings here and the latest conference tournament results here.

Women’s College Basketball - Conference Tournament Finals

  • SEC Final | #1 South Carolina 79, #8 LSU 72: Tensions boiled over in a chippy affair Sunday afternoon when South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso (8 PTS, 6 REB) body-checked LSU’s Flaujee Johnson (13 PTS, 4 REB), leading to a bench-clearing scuffle and six ejections. And in the end, Milaysia Fulwiley (24 PTS) and the Gamecocks topped Angel Reese (15 PTS, 13 REB) and the Tigers for their second straight SEC Tournament title while improving their record to a perfect 32-0 - LSU finished the game with only seven players, and barring an alien invasion, South Carolina will enter the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 overall seed

  • Big Ten Final | #3 Iowa 94, Nebraska 89 (OT): Caitlin Clark (34 PTS, 5-17 3PT, 7 REB, 12 AST) only had four points at the half, and the Hawkeyes trailed 46-35, but then Clark went off, sparking a massive second-half charge before knocking down a go-ahead three in the final minute of overtime to give Iowa their third consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship - Iowa should be named a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday (March 17)

  • Pac-12 Final | #5 USC 74, #2 Stanford 61: After taking down No. 7 UCLA on Friday in double overtime, the Trojans secured their first Pac-12 Tournament title since 2014 on Sunday by knocking off the Cardinal thanks to a sensational showing from McKenzie Forbes (26 PTS, 5 REB) - RIP Pac-12 basketball, you will be missed

  • ACC Final: #14 Notre Dame 55, #10 NC State 51: The Irish held the Wolfpack under 10 points in both the 2nd and 4th quarter, and used some late-game heroics from Hannah Hidalgo (22 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) to pull off a suspenseful win for their first ACC title since 2019 - the Irish will enter the NCAA Tournament on an eight-game win streak, capped by five ranked victories in a row

See the full NCAAW scoreboard here and the current rankings here.

Power 6 Conference Tournament Champions

  • ACC: #14 Notre Dame

    • Regular-Season Champion: #11 Virginia Tech

  • Big Ten: #3 Iowa

    • Regular-Season Champion: #4 Ohio State

  • Pac-12: #5 USC

    • Regular-Season Champion: #2 Stanford

  • SEC: #1 South Carolina

    • Regular-Season Champion: #1 South Carolina 

  • Big East: TBD #9 UConn vs. Georgetown Final (Tues. 7:00pm ET)

    • Regular-Season Champion: #9 UConn

  • Big 12: TBD (Semifinals begin today)

    • Regular-Season Champion: #19 Oklahoma

See all the conference tournament results here.

Photo: Lake Show | Source: USA Today

NBA - Top Games

  • Los Angeles Lakers 120, Minnesota Timberwolves 109: After a 123-122 victory against the Bucks on Friday in which D’Angelo Russell dropped 44 points, the Lakers notched another huge win last night, as LeBron James (29 PTS, 8 REB, 9 AST) and Anthony Davis (27 PTS, 25 REB) took advantage of an absent Karl-Anthony Towns (meniscus) and Rudy Gobert (hamstring) by dominating inside to outpace Anthony Edwards (25 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST) and the struggling T-Wolves - after finishing February with just three losses, Minnesota is now 2-4 in March

  • Dallas Mavericks 142, Detroit Pistons 124: Luka Doncic (39 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST) continues to amaze and became the first player in NBA history to notch six straight 30-point tiple-doubles while leading the Mavs past Cade Cunningham (33 PTS, 10 REB) and the Pistons on Saturday in Motown - Doncic also extended his own record of five straight 35-point triple-doubles

  • Milwaukee Bucks 124, Los Angeles Clippers 117: Following their loss to the Lakers on Friday at Crypto.com Arena, Giannis Antetokounmpo (34 PTS, 7 REB, 10 AST) and Damian Lillard (35 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST) powered the Bucks to a bounce-back win on Sunday over James Harden (13 PTS, 5-16 FG, 11 AST) and the Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard (groin) and Paul George (knee) due to soreness - Leonard and George played extensively in LA’s win over Chicago on Saturday

  • Boston Celtics 117, Phoenix Suns 107: With Devin Booker out for a fourth-straight game with a sprained ankle, Kevin Durant (45 PTS, 18-26 FG, 10 REB, 6 AST) put on a vintage shooting display to keep the Suns within striking distance, but it wasn’t enough to top Jayson Tatum (29 PTS, 10 REB, 7 AST) and the league-leading C’s, as Boston squeaked out a win on Saturday night in Phoenix

See the full NBA scoreboard here and the current standings here.

NHL - Top Games

  • Edmonton Oilers 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 0: Sidney Crosby’s Penguins were no match for Connor McDavid’s (1 G, 2 A) Oilers on Sunday, as Darnell Nurse (2 G) lit the lamp twice and Calvin Pickard (41 SV) earned his second shutout of the season to end Edmonton’s four-game road trip on a high note following losses to Columbus and Buffalo - Pittsburgh (28-27-2) has dropped three straight games, including a 5-1 loss to Boston on Saturday

  • Vancouver Canucks 5, Winnipeg Jets 0: In a marquee meeting on Saturday between two Western Conference contenders, the Canucks coasted to a convincing home win on the backs of Elias Pettersson (1 G, 1 A) and Nils Hoglander (1 G, 1 A), marking Vancouver’s fourth W in a row - Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (12 SV) left the game in the 2nd period with an undisclosed injury

  • Dallas Stars 4, Los Angeles Kings 1: Jason Robertson (1 G, 1 A), Joe Pavelski (1 G, 1 A), and the Stars extended their winning streak to a season-high five games on Saturday night with four unanswered goals to blast by Kevin Fiala (1 G) and the Kings in Los Angeles - Dallas (40-17-9) leads the Central Division with 89 points

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

International Soccer - Top Matches

  • Concacaf W Gold Cup Final | United States 1, Brazil 0: It’s been a tumultuous few months for the USWNT, highlighted by a disappointing World Cup exit and the resignation of HC Vlatko Andonovski, but the Americans took a massive step forward last night by taking home the Concacaf Gold Cup thanks to Lindsey Horan’s (45’+1’) late first-half header and a brilliant defensive effort - the next major tournament for the US will be this summer's Olympics in Paris, with new manager Emma Hayes at the helm

  • EPL | Manchester City 1, Liverpool 1: In a highly controversial finish following goals from Man City’s John Stones (23’) and Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister (50’ PK), City’s Jeremy Doku appeared to foul Mac Allister inside the box in the waning moments of stoppage time; however, the reckless challenge went uncalled and the holders escaped with a dramatic draw, extending their unbeaten streak to 21 games across all competitions - Liverpool (64 points) and City (63) are second and third in the EPL table, respectively, behind Arsenal (64) with 10 games remaining

  • EPL | Tottenham Hotspur 4, Aston Villa 0: Tottenham (53 points) climbed within two points of Aston Villa (55) with a clinical victory on Sunday in which James Maddison (50’) and Brennan Johnson (53’) gave the Spurs a 2-0 lead before Villa’s John McGinn (65’) was sent off with a red, setting up late goals by Son (90') and Timo Werner (90’+4’)

See the full international scoreboard here.

PGA Tour - Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill Club & Lodge, FL)

  • Winner: Scottie Scheffler (-15). Bad news for Tour players: It appears Scottie Scheffler has remembered how to putt. After switching to a mallet putter last week, the World No. 1 entered Sunday tied for the lead with Shane Lowry, and got hot with the flat stick to run away from the field, closing with a bogey-free, 6-under 66, which is the lowest final round at Bay Hill by two shots - Scheffler will defend his title at the Players Championship this week, which was his last Tour win before yesterday

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Scottie Scheffler (-15)

  • 2. Wyndham Clark (-10)

  • 3. Shane Lowry (-9)

  • T4. Will Zalatoris (-7)

  • T4. Russell Henley (-7)

  • T6. Sahith Theegala (-5)

  • T6. Brendon Todd (-5)

See the entire final leaderboard here.

NBA

  • Phoenix Suns @ Cleveland Cavaliers 7:30pm ET, Local

  • Golden State Warriors @ San Antonio Spurs 8:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • Boston Celtics @ Portland Trail Blazers 10:30pm ET, NBA TV

  • Full Schedule

NHL

  • St. Louis Blues @ Boston Bruins 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • New Jersey Devils @ New York Rangers 7:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • Washington Capitals @ Winnipeg Jets 7:30pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • New York Islanders @ Los Angeles Kings 10:30pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

Men’s College Basketball

  • WCC Semifinal: #23 Saint Mary’s vs. Santa Clara 9:00pm ET, ESPN

  • WCC Semifinal: #19 Gonzaga vs. San Francisco 11:30pm ET, ESPN2

  • Full Schedule

Women’s College Basketball

  • Big 12 Semifinal: #19 Oklahoma vs. Iowa State 2:30pm ET, ESPN2

  • WCC Semifinal: #15 Gonzaga vs. Pacific 3:00pm ET, ESPN+

  • Big 12 Semifinal: #6 Texas vs. #16 Kansas State 5:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • Full Schedule

Trivia Time Answer

A. 2020-21. Before doing so on Saturday, the last time North Carolina swept the regular-season series against Duke was in the 2020-21 campaign, which was legendary HC Roy Williams’ final season. Since 2000, the Tar Heels have swept their rivals five times (‘06-07, ‘08-09, ‘18-19, ‘20-21, ‘23-24). Duke has seven regular-season sweeps against UNC in that time frame, with their latest coming last season, as well as 2019-20, ‘14-15, ‘12-13, ‘09-10, ‘03-04, and ‘01-02 - North Carolina only trailed Duke for 16 seconds in their two matchups this year.

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NBA

  • Warriors @ Spurs: GS -5.5 (-110)

Selection Sunday is in six days! Thanks for reading!