🏀 The Day of Days.

First Round of March Madness, First Four recap, West Region Preview, Shohei Ohtani, NBA, NHL, and more...

Today is the day! Pressure. Passion. Posters. Fundamental pick-setting. That guy who claims he picked the upset in his other bracket pool. Onions. Daggers. Cinderellas. Purdue losing in the first round (not this time, though). Buzzer beaters. Bracket busters. Bill Rafty saying, “With a kiss!” Betting an irresponsible amount on Colgate for absolutely no reason. Overtime. Heartbreak. Euphoria. It's all just hours away. The first round of March Madness is here, and the exuberance is palpable. Before we run through today’s slate, we'll recap last night's final two play-in games and conclude our bracket breakdown with a preview of the West Region. In other news, two beasts of the East battled it out in the NBA, Auston Matthews continues to set the NHL ablaze, and Shohei Ohtani is in a pickle. It’s March. Let’s leave it all out there today.

WTF Stat: A five-seed or worse (Nos. 5-16) has made the Final Four in every men’s NCAA Tournament since 2013 - additionally, only two times in the past 26 tournaments have all four two-seeds made the Sweet 16!

Written By: Ian Dardani

MSU will win today. Share the Blitz!

⚾️ Dodgers fired Ippei Mizuhara, the longtime interpreter for OF/P Shohei Ohtani, after Ohtani’s representatives accused Mizuhara of engaging in a “massive theft” of Ohtani’s funds to place bets with an illegal bookmaker under federal investigation - Mizuhara said yesterday that Ohtani had no knowledge of his gambling activity, debts or attempts to pay them

Photo: Colorado Clutch | Source: USA Today

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Four (Play-In Games)

  • South | #10 Colorado 60, #10 Boise State 53: In a back-and-forth rock fight, the Broncos held future NBA draft pick KJ Simpson (19 PTS, 6-18 FG, 11 REB) relatively in check but shot an abysmal 2-for-18 from three and were held scoreless for over four minutes in crunch time, allowing the Buffs to take control and claim their first NCAA Tournament victory in three years - Colorado will face No. 7 Florida on Friday in a compelling matchup between two potential bracket busters

  • Midwest | #16 Grambling 88, #16 Montana State 81 (OT): In another thriller between a pair of 16-seeds, Antwan Burnett (18 PTS, 5 REB) and Jourdan Smith (18 PTS, 9 REB) willed Grambling back from 14 points down in the second half to force overtime, where the Tigers seized the momentum to steal one from Robert Ford III (26 PTS, 6 REB) and Montana State, marking the program’s first NCAA Tournament win - after a 2-10 start to the season, Grambling won the SWAC tournament to receive a bid and will play No. 1 Purdue tomorrow

See the full box scores here and the entire men’s bracket here.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Four (Play-In Games)

  • Region 1 | #16 Presbyterian 49, #16 Sacred Heart 42: In the women’s opening tournament game, Mara Neira (14 PTS, 6 REB) and the Presbyterian Blue Hose jumped out to a 29-18 lead at the break and didn’t look back for their first ever March Madness victory while snapping Sacred Heart’s 15-game winning streak - unfortunately for the Blue Hose, their celebration may be shortlived as No. 1 South Carolina awaits them in the first round

  • Region 3 | #12 Vanderbilt 72, #12 Columbia 68: In a showcase between some star pupils, Iyana Moore (22 PTS, 4 REB, 4 STL) and Vanderbilt put Columbia’s offense in detention in the first half to take a 10-point lead at recess, and the Commodores ultimately outdueled the Lions in the final period to put their season in the books - it’s Vandy’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2013

See the full box scores here and the entire women’s bracket here.

NBA - Top Games

  • Boston Celtics 122, Milwaukee Bucks 119: In the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo (hamstring), the Bucks found themselves down 21 points early in the 4th quarter but rallied on the backs of Damian Lillard (32 PTS, 6-10 3PT, 6 AST) and Bobby Portis (24 PTS, 15 REB) to make it a two-point game in the final minute; however Jayson Tatum (31 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) and Jaylen Brown (21 PTS, 8 REB) made some clutch free throws down the stretch, and the C’s survived at TD Garden to improve their league-leading record to 55-14 - Lillard hit a three with one second remaining, and Boston holds an 11-game lead over Milwaukee (44-25) for the top seed in the East

  • Sacramento Kings 123, Toronto Raptors 89: Domantas Sabonis (13 PTS, 17 REB, 10 AST) only needed 24 minutes to record his league-leading 24th triple-double of the season, and the Kings rolled the injury-riddled Raptors to hand Toronto their eighth straight L - Sabonis has notched 51 consecutive double-doubles, and Toronto was without Immanuel Quickley (personal), All-Star Scottie Barnes (hand), RJ Barrett (personal), and a slew of rotation players

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 119, Utah Jazz 107: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31 PTS, 11 REB, 8 AST) was nothing short of outstanding, but Chet Holmgren (35 PTS, 14 REB) stole the show, as the up-and-coming star threw down a monster poster and tied a career-high with 14 boards to help give the Thunder their sixth win in seven games - SGA scored 20 points in the second half, and OKC holds the best record in the West at 48-20

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

NHL - Top Games

  • Toronto Maple Leafs 7, Washington Capitals 3: Auston Matthews (2 G, 3 A) went absolutely ballistic, and although Alex Ovechkin’s (2 G) second bingo of the night cut Washington’s deficit to one in the 3rd period, Toronto rattled off three unanswered goals to stamp an emphatic victory - Matthews leads the league with 55 goals this season and is on pace for 69

  • Dallas Stars 5, Arizona Coyotes 2: Arizona’s Clayton Keller (1 G) got the party started just 15 seconds into the game, but Tyler Seguin (1 G), Nils Lundkvist (2 A) and the Stars erupted for five straight goals en route to a blowout dub in the Big D - Dallas is now 18-0-1 against the Coyotes in their last 19 meetings!

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

🏀 This. Is. March!

Photo: No reason to be upset! | Source: March Madness

The time has finally come. 64 teams. 32 games. In just 38 hours. In case you’re still tinkering with your bracket — or a little late to the party — we’ll finish our tournament preview by examining an intriguing West Region and then highlight today’s slate before the action tips off early this afternoon. Let us rejoice. The madness is officially here!

Men’s March Madness - West Region Preview

  • If you’re looking for chaos, look no further. No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Arizona headline the West Region as balanced teams with experienced scorers, most notably ACC Player of the Year RJ Davis and Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love, both of whom led Carolina to the 2022 National Championship Game before Love left for Tucson.

  • But a storybook reunion in the Elite Eight is far from imminent, as both powerhouses have recently lacked consistency. This leads us to our next point and the region’s overarching theme — volatility. For many teams in the West, when they’re on, they’re capable of making serious noise, but when they’re off, things can really go sideways.

  • No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Alabama boast potent offenses, but defensive lapses have led to recent respective skids, No. 5 Saint Mary’s and No. 6 Clemson can battle with anyone but both have some head-scratching losses, while No. 7 Dayton, No. 8 Mississippi State, and No. 9 Michigan State possess the star power to make a push, but all went MIA in February.

  • A trio of West Coast seeds, No. 10 Nevada, No. 11 New Mexico, and No. 12 Grand Canyon, are led by elite back courts and are trendy upset picks, while No. 13 Charleston and No. 14 Colgate are two of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.

  • No. 15 Long Beach State has nothing to lose — literally, their HC Don Monson was fired before the Big West tournament and then led Beach to an unlikely title for a ticket to the Big Dance — and No. 16 Howard is playing with house money after winning their program’s first NCAA Tournament game on Tuesday in the First Four.

See Tuesday’s newsletter for the East Regional preview and see Wednesday’s newsletter for the South and Midwest Regional preview.

Odds to Win West Region

  • #1 Arizona (+230)

  • #2 North Carolina (+340)

  • #3 Baylor (+650)

  • #4 Alabama (+750)

  • #5 Saint Mary’s (+750)

  • #9 Michigan State (+1600)

  • #11 New Mexico (+1700)

  • #8 Mississippi State (+2300)

  • #6 Clemson (+2300)

  • #10 Nevada (+2500)

  • #7 Dayton (+3000)

  • #12 Grand Canyon (+4500)

  • #13 Charleston (+1500)

  • #14 Colgate (+25000)

  • #15 Long Beach State (+25000)

  • #16 Howard (+25000)

Today’s Slate - Round of 64

  • West | #8 Mississippi State vs. #9 Michigan State 12:15pm ET, CBS

  • East | #6 BYU vs. #11 Duquesne 12:40pm ET, truTV

  • Midwest | #3 Creighton vs. #14 Akron 1:30pm ET, TNT

  • West | #2 Arizona vs. #15 Long Beach State 2:00pm ET, TBS

  • West | #1 North Carolina vs. #16 Wagner 2:45pm ET, CBS

  • East | #3 Illinois vs. #14 Morehead State 3:10pm ET, truTV

  • Midwest | #6 South Carolina vs. #11 Oregon 4:00pm ET, TNT

  • West | #7 Dayton vs. #10 Nevada 4:30pm ET, TBS

  • Midwest | #7 Texas vs. #10 Colorado State 6:50pm ET, TNT

  • South | #3 Kentucky vs. #14 Oakland 7:10pm ET, CBS

  • Midwest | #5 Gonzaga vs. #12 McNeese 7:25pm ET, TBS

  • East | #2 Iowa State vs. #15 South Dakota State 7:35pm ET, truTV

  • Midwest | #2 Tennessee vs. #15 Saint Peter’s 9:20pm ET, TNT

  • South | #6 Texas Tech vs. #11 NC State 9:40pm ET, CBS

  • Midwest | #4 Kansas vs. #13 Samford 9:55pm ET, TBS

  • East | #7 Washington State vs. #10 Drake 10:05pm ET, truTV

See the entire men’s NCAA Tournament bracket here.

🏀 It’s not too late to join our March Madness Bracket Challenge!

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Step 3: Fill out your bracket and let it rip! The winner of the challenge will receive a $200 cash prize.

How many schools have won the NCAA Tournament in Division I men's basketball?

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Photo: Wooden’s First Title (1964) | Source: Sportscasting

On March 21, 1964, John Wooden led UCLA to their first national championship in men's basketball, beating Duke 98-83 in the title game. After 16 years of success at UCLA but no national championships, Wooden finally broke through, largely in part to a new defense proposed by assistant coach Jerry Norman who persuaded Wooden that the team's smaller players and fast-paced offense should adopt a full-court zone press to increase their caused turnovers and fast-break points. The result was a dramatic increase in scoring, turning UCLA into a juggernaut that went a perfect 30–0 for their first title. The championship marked the beginning of one of the greatest sports dynasties ever, as Wooden's Bruins would win ten national championships in a 12-year period (1964, 1965, 1967-1975), including a record seven in a row. Wooden was renowned for his simple yet provocative inspirational messages to his players (including his "Pyramid of Success"), many of which pertained to success in life as well as in basketball. He passed away in 2010 at 99 years old and is considered one of the best coaches ever.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Round of 64

Women’s March Madness - First Four (Play-In Games)

  • Region 3: #11 Arizona vs. #11 Auburn 7:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • Region 3: #16 UT Martin vs. #12 Holy Cross 9:00pm ET, ESPN2


  • New Orleans Pelicans @ Orlando Magic 7:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • New York Knicks @ Denver Nuggets 9:00pm ET, Local

  • Atlanta Hawks @ Phoenix Suns 10:30pm ET, NBA TV

  • Full Schedule


  • New York Rangers @ Boston Bruins 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Buffalo Sabres @ Edmonton Oilers 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Seattle Kraken @ Vegas Golden Knights 10:30pm ET, ESPN

  • Full Schedule

Trivia Time Answer

B. 36. In the 85 years since the tournament’s inception in 1939, 36 different schools have won the national championship in men’s college basketball. As you may have guessed after reading the “On This Day,” UCLA has the most titles with 11, followed by Kentucky (8), North Carolina (6), Duke (5), Indiana (5), and UConn (5).

Prime Lock of the Day

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

  • Midwest Region Winner: Purdue (+165)

My upset of the day: #12 McNeese over #5 Gonzaga - the Cowboys are built to be giant killers!