🏀 Rocky Chalk

KU upset + major conference tourneys begin, NFL free agency, NBA, NHL, UCL, and more...

It’s Thursday! March is heating up, and I’m not talking about atmospheric temperatures! Every Power 6 conference tournament is officially underway in college hoops, and more mid-majors punched their ticket to the Big Dance, while a Big 12 blue blood continued to bleed. On the professional hardwood, the reigning champs are back on top, and on the ice, the Oilers continue to rig games using one simple trick: Connor McDavid. Also, happy NFL New Year! Free agents can now officially ink their new deals, and the Titans took a gamble on a sharp speedster who hammers teams that can’t cover. Let’s go!

WTF Stat: With the Lakers’ 120-107 loss to the Kings last night, Anthony Davis is now 0-10 in his career against Domantis Sabonis - Sacramento’s win marks just their second regular-season sweep of Los Angeles (4-0) in franchise history, and Sabonis (17 PTS, 19 REB, 10 AST) notched his league-leading 23rd triple-double of the season.

Written By: Ian Dardani

“When everybody is sharing the [blitz], everybody makes everybody happy.” — Nikola Jokic

🏈 New Year, New News!

Photo: Calvin Ridley | Source: USA Today

Happy NFL New Year! The start of the 2024 league year officially began yesterday at 4:00pm ET, meaning all the agreed-upon free-agent contracts from Monday and Tuesday’s legal negotiation period can now be signed. With most of the top free agents already off the board, Wednesday saw fewer splashes than Days 1 and 2 but still produced a handful of headlines. See all of yesterday’s top moves below!

Yesterday’s Top Moves

  • Titans and former Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley have agreed to a 4-year, $92M deal, with $50M guaranteed - Ridley, 29, had 1,016 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last year after missing the entire 2022 season due to a gambling suspension; he reportedly chose the Titans over the Jaguars and Patriots

  • Raiders released QB Jimmy Garoppolo and former Pro Bowl WR Hunter Renfrow to save more than $19M in salary cap space - Garoppolo, 32, signed a 3-year, $73M free agent contract with Las Vegas last March, and Renfrow, 28, was drafted by the team in 2019

  • Chargers released WR Mike Williams after seven seasons with the team and will retain Pro Bowl DE Khalil Mack on a restructured deal - releasing Williams will save Los Angeles $20M in cap space

  • Colts and former Browns QB Joe Flacco have agreed to a 1-year, $8.7M deal, with $4.5M guaranteed - Flacco won last season’s Comeback Player of the Year Award after signing with Cleveland in Week 12 and leading them to the playoffs

Other Notable Wednesday Moves

Key: Player (Position) Previous Team → New Team*

*If player was released yesterday: Previous Team → Free Agent

  • Bobby Wagner (LB) Seahawks → Commanders

  • DJ Humphries (OT) Cardinals → Free Agent

  • Eric Kendricks (LB) Chargers → Cowboys

  • Jake Elliot (K) Eagles — Eagles

  • Jonah Williams (OT) Bengals → Commanders

  • Mason Rudolph (QB) Steelers → Titans

  • Michael Thomas (WR) Saints → Free Agent

  • Rayshawn Jenkins (S) Jaguars → Seahawks

  • Xavien Howard (CB) Dolphins → Free Agent

For Monday and Tuesday’s biggest moves, see this week's past newsletters. For every free agency agreement, click here.

Notable Remaining Free Agents

Key: Player (Position, Previous Team)

  • Arik Armstead (DT, 49ers)

  • Chase Young (EDGE, 49ers)

  • Curtis Samuel (WR, Commanders)

  • Jadeveon Clowney (DE, Ravens)

  • Josh Reynolds (WR, Lions)

  • Justin Simmons (S, Broncos)

  • Marquise Brown (WR, Cardinals)

  • Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, Ravens)

  • Stephon Gilmore (CB, Cowboys)

  • Tyron Smith (OT, Cowboys)

See all the notable free agents here.

⚾️ Padres acquired SP Dylan Cease in a trade with the White Sox for RP Steven Wilson and prospects Drew Thorpe (P), Jairo Iriarte (P), and Samuel Zavala (OF) - Cease, 28, went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 2023 but finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting in 2022

Photo: Rock Chalk Topped | Source: USA Today

Men’s College Basketball - Top Conference Tournaments Games

  • Big 12, Round 2 | Cincinnati 72, #16 Kansas 52: We’re not in Allen Fieldhouse anymore. Playing without their two leading scorers, Hunter Dickinson (dislocated shoulder) and Kevin McCullar Jr. (left knee bone bruise), due to injury, Kansas got bounced in their opening conference tournament game, as Dan Skillings Jr. (25 PTS, 7 REB) and the Bearcats worked the Jayhawks from start to finish - both Dickinson and McCullar are expected to return for the NCAA Tournament

  • Big East, Round 1 | Villanova 58, DePaul 57: The Cats are right on the bubble for the Big Dance and narrowly avoided the upset of the year at the hands of 3-29 DePaul, who was a 24.5-point underdog(!), as Justin Moore (10 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST) drained a gutsy go-ahead three with just 10 seconds remaining to save Nova’s season - Villanova (18-14) likely needs at least one more win to earn a tournament bid and is set to play No. 10 Marquette tonight

  • Big 12, Round 2 | Kansas State 78, Texas 74: In a notable second-round Big 12 matchup between two projected tournament teams, the Longhorns blew a 10-point lead in the first half but Max Abmas (26 PTS, 4 AST) hit a pair of late triples to get them within two with 11 seconds remaining; however, Kansas State’s Cam Carter (10 PTS, 7 REB) knocked down two clutch free throws on the ensuing possession to seal the win for the Wildcats - Tylor Perry (21 PTS, 4 REB) also came up big for K-State down the stretch, and Texas (20-12) is a projected No. 9-seed for the NCAA Tournament

  • ACC, Round 2 | NC State 83, Syracuse 65: The Orange suffered a potentially fatal blow to their tournament hopes, as Jayden Taylor (18 PTS, 9 REB) and NC State stretched a three-point lead at halftime into an 18-point rout to set up a quarterfinals date with No. 11 Duke this evening - Syracuse (20-12) entered the day outside of the 68-team field

Other Notable Results

  • ACC, Round 2 | Boston College 76, Clemson 55

  • ACC, Round 2 | Florida State 86, Virgina Tech 76

  • Big East, Round 1 | Xavier 76, Butler 72

  • Big East, Round 1 | Providence 74, Georgetown 56

  • Big Ten, Round 1 | Maryland 65, Rutgers 51

  • Big Ten, Round 1 | Penn State 66, Michigan 57

  • Big 12, Round 2 | #20 BYU 87, UCF 73

  • Big 12, Round 2 | TCU 77, Oklahoma 70

  • SEC, Round 1 | Arkansas 90, Vanderbilt 85 (OT)

  • SEC, Round 1 | Georgia 64, Missouri 59

  • Pac-12, Round 1 | UCLA 67, Oregon State 57

  • Pac-12, Round 1 | USC 80, Washington 74

  • Pac-12, Round 1 | Stanford 87, California 76 (OT)

  • Pac-12, Round 1 | Utah 90, Arizona State 57

  • Southland Final | McNeese 92, Nicholls 76

  • Patriot League Final | Colgate 74, Lehigh 55

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

NBA - Top Games

  • Denver Nuggets 100, Miami Heat 88: In a Finals rematch, Nikola Jokic (12 PTS, 5-8 FG, 14 REB, 6 AST), Michael Porter Jr. (25 PTS, 7 REB), and the reigning champs clamped down on Jimmy Butler (15 PTS, 5 REB) and the Heat in Miami to take sole possession of first place in the Western Conference for the first time since Nov. 16 - Denver (46-20) is an NBA-best 11-1 since the All-Star break

  • Chicago Bulls 132, Indiana Pacers 129 (OT): DeMar DeRozan (46 PTS, 15-24 FG, 9 REB) put on a mid-range clinic for a near 50-piece and splashed a game-tying jumper at the buzzer to force overtime, where the Bulls prevailed to edge out Tyrese Haliburton (17 PTS, 14 AST) and the Pacers in Indianapolis

  • Cleveland Cavaliers 116, New Orleans Pelicans 95: Donovan Mitchell (14 PTS, 4-9 3PT, 5 AST) made his return after missing seven games with a left knee bone bruise and worked with Darius Garland (27 PTS, 6-10 3PT, 11 AST) to help the Cavs knock down 20 three-pointers, as Cleveland snapped the Pelicans’ four-game heater despite Zion Williamson’s (33 PTS, 9 REB) big night

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

NHL - All Games

  • Edmonton Oilers 7, Washington Capitals 2: Connor McDavid (1 G, 2 A) collected his 27th career three-point period with a bingo and two apples in the 1st, and the Oilers hung seven on Alex Ovechkin (1 A) and the Caps in a rout above the border - McDavid is now the first player with 30 points in a 10-game span at home since Mario Lemieux did so in 1996

  • Colorado Avalanche 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT): JT Miller (1 G, 1 A) and the Canucks were up 3-0 in the 2nd period, but it didn’t last long as Colorado netted three straight goals to force overtime, where Nathan MacKinnon’s (1 G, 1 A) shot deflected off Valeri Nichushkin’s (1 G) visor for the game-winning goal - Colorado (42-20-4) has now won four straight games

  • St. Louis Blues 3, Los Angeles Kings 1: Jordan Binnington (40 SV) was sensational in cage, and Brandon Saad’s (1 G) 3rd-period gino gave the Blues a 3-0 lead, as St. Louis coasted past Adrian Kempe (1 G) and the Kings to move within six points of Vegas for the final wild-card spot in the West

  • Nashville Predators 4, Winnipeg Jets 2: Filip Forsberg (1 G) and the Preds jumped out to a 4-0 lead, which was more than enough cushion for Juuse Saros (27 SV), as Nashville knocked off the Jets in Winnipeg to extend their points streak to 13 games - the Predators (38-25-4) hold the top wild-card spot in the West with 80 points

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

UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 (2nd Leg)

  • Borussia Dortmund 2, PSV Eindhoven 0 (DOR advances 3-1 on aggregate): Entering the match up 1-0 on aggregate, Dortmund quickly took a commanding lead as Jadon Sancho (3’) fired a brilliant strike from outside the box just three minutes in, and Marco Reus (90’+5’) converted a late rush to stamp the win for the German side - Dortmund is now one round away from reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2013

  • Atletico Madrid 2, Internazionale 1 (Tied on aggregate - ATM advances 3-2 via PKs): After losing 1-0 in the first leg, and then falling into a 1-0 hole yesterday, Atletico used goals from Antoine Griezmann (35’) and Memphis Depay (87’) to end the series 2-2 on aggregate, forcing a decisive penalty shootout that they ultimately claimed 3-2 after Lautaro Matinez sailed Inter Milan’s final attempt over the crossbar, sending last year’s finalists home in heartbreaking fashion - the quarterfinal draw will take place on Friday at 7:00am ET

See the full international scoreboard here and the full UCL results here.

Which school has won the most Big East tournament championships in men's basketball?

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Photo: St. Joe’s Stuns DePaul | Caption: Sports Illustrated

On March 14, 1981, Saint Joseph's stunned DePaul, 49-48, in one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history. Led by future NBA stars Mark Aguirre (the No. 1 overall pick in 1981) and Terry Cummings (the No. 2 overall pick in 1982), DePaul was the top-ranked team entering the NCAA Tournament and the odds-on favorite to win the title after going 26-1 in the regular season. In the old 48-team field, the top four seeds in each region got byes to the second round, meaning that the Blue Demons were playing their first tournament game when they faced ninth-seeded St. Joe’s, who had narrowly escaped eighth-seeded Creighton, 59-57, in the first round. After leading the entire way, DePaul was held scoreless for the final six minutes of regulation and found themselves clinging to a one-point lead with 13 seconds left. Luckily, their 90% foul shooter, Skip Dillard, was at the line with a chance put the game away. However, Dillard missed the front end of a one-and-one, and St. Joe’s ran the floor to set up John Smith's game-winning layup with just three seconds to play. Smith’s basket gave SJU their first lead of the day and ultimately solidified one of the greatest upsets in tournament history. The Hawks went on to beat Boston College, 42-41, in the Sweet 16, but lost to Indiana in the Elite Eight, ending their fairy tale run.

Men’s College Basketball - Conference Tournaments

ACC, Quarterfinals

  • #4 North Carolina vs. Florida State 12:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest 2:30pm ET, ESPN2

  • #11 Duke vs. NC State 7:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Virginia vs. Boston College 9:300pm ET, [ ]

Big East, Quarterfinals

  • #2 UConn vs. Xavier 12:00pm ET, FS1

  • Seton Hall vs. St. John’s 2:30pm ET, FS1

  • #8 Creighton vs. Providence 7:00pm ET, FS1

  • #10 Marquette vs. Villanova 9:30pm ET, FS1

Big Ten, Round 2

  • Michigan State vs. Minnesota 12:00pm ET, BTN

  • Wisconsin vs. Maryland 2:00pm ET, BTN

  • Iowa vs. Ohio State 6:30pm ET, BTN

  • Indiana vs. Penn State 8:30pm ET, BTN

Big 12, Quarterfinals

  • #20 BYU vs. #25 Texas Tech 12:30pm ET, ESPN2

  • #1 Houston vs. TCU 3:00pm ET, ESPN

  • #7 Iowa State vs. Kansas State 7:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • #14 Baylor vs. Cincinnati 9:30pm ET, ESPN+

Pac-12, Quarterfinals

  • #6 Arizona vs. USC 3:00pm ET, Pac-12

  • Oregon vs. UCLA 5:30pm ET, Pac-12

  • #22 Washington State vs. Stanford 9:00pm ET, Pac-12

  • Colorado vs. Utah 11:30pm ET, FS1

SEC, Round 2

  • LSU vs. Mississippi State 1:00pm ET, SECN

  • #15 South Carolina vs. Arkansas 3:30pm ET, SECN

  • Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss 7:00pm ET, SECN

  • Florida vs. Georgia 9:30pm ET, SECN


  • Phoenix Suns @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, TNT

  • Philadelphia 76ers @ Milwaukee Bucks 8:00pm ET, Local

  • Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder 10:00pm ET, TNT

  • Full Schedule


  • Boston Bruins @ Montreal Canadiens 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • New York Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Vegas Golden Knights @ Calgary Flames 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Full Schedule 

PGA Tour - The Players Championship

  • Round 1 7:30am-7:00pm ET, ESPN+ / 1:00pm-7:00pm ET, Golf Channel

Trivia Time Answer

A. Georgetown. The Hoyas have the most Big East tournament titles in men’s college basketball, with eight. Led by legendary HC John Thompson, Georgetown won six of the first 13 tournaments, coming in 1980 (inaugural), 1982, 1984, 1987, 1989, and 1992. The program later took home the crown in 2007 and broke a tie with UConn (7) by winning their eighth title in 2021. The Hoyas and Huskies are trailed by Villanova (6) and Syracuse (5) - Cuse, now a member of the ACC, has appeared in the Big East final a record 15 times, and their 10 second-place finishes are four more than any other school.

Prime Lock of the Day

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NCAAM - Pac-12 Tournament

  • #6 Arizona vs. USC: ARIZ -8.5 (-115)