😱 The Madness Begins!

First Four play-in games, South & Midwest preview, NBA, NHL, NFL news, and more...

It’s Wednesday! And it’s a glorious one. March Madness is officially underway, with two of the First Four play-in games already in the books. Tuesday night’s headliner turned into a snoozefest as we once again received confirmation that Virginia basketball is Iowa football. However, a pair of No. 16 seeds saved the day with a thriller that went down to the wire. From drama at the horn to dumpster fires at midnight, one thing is for sure: This is March. We'll recap last night's matchups and then break down the South and Midwest Regions before the Round of 64 tips off tomorrow. At the professional level (also referred to as the NBA), the Joker proved to be a nightmare for Minnesota, and in the NHL, the Avalanche can’t stop burying the competition. Let’s dance!

WTF Stat: The last time a team from the Pac-12 won the men’s NCAA Tournament was in 1997, when Arizona beat Kentucky in the national championship game for their program’s first title - the Pac-12’s title drought is the longest among all Power 6 conferences, followed by the Big Ten, which has not produced a champion since 2000 Michigan State.

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏀 Kansas G Kevin McCullar Jr., a first-team All-Big 12 selection, will miss the NCAA Tournament due to a left knee bone bruise - however, the Jayhawks’ second-team All-American C Hunter Dickinson is expected to return after missing the Big 12 tournament with a dislocated shoulder

🏈 Jets and former Chargers WR Mike Williams have agreed to a 1-year, $15M contract - Williams, 29, was released by Los Angeles last week and totaled 1,416 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2022 before tearing his ACL last season in Week 3

🏈 Browns and WR Jerry Jeudy have agreed to a 3-year, $58M contract extension, with $41M guaranteed - Cleveland acquired Jeudy, 24, earlier this month in a trade with the Broncos for a 2024 fifth- and sixth-round pick

Photo: Scintillating 16 | Source: Getty Images

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

  • West | #16 Wagner 71, #16 Howard 68: And so it begins! The opening game of March Madness did not disappoint, as Howard trailed by 17 early in the second half before sparking a massive run to get within one with 18 ticks to play; however, Wagner’s Julian Brown (15 PTS) knocked down a pair of pressure-packed free throws on the ensuing possession, and the Bison missed a trio of three-pointers in the final seconds, giving the Seahawks their first NCAA Tournament win in school history - Wagner’s Melvin Council Jr. (21 PTS, 5 REB, 7 REB) was sensational, and the Hawks will face No. 1 North Carolina on Thursday

  • Midwest | #10 Colorado State 67, #10 Virginia 42: A debacle for the selection committee and vindication for the teams they snubbed. Ranging from confused to outraged, many were surprised to see Virginia get a bid on Selection Sunday, and the Wahoos only solidified their naysayers’ case by getting absolutely blasted by Joel Scott (23 PTS, 11 REB) and Colorado State, who held the Cavs to just 14 points in the first half and dropped 40 in the second to waltz to their first tournament win under sixth-year HC Niko Medved - the Rams will meet No. 7 Texas for a first-round date on Thursday

See the full box scores here and the entire bracket here.

NBA - Top Games

  • Denver Nuggets 115, Minnesota Timberwolves 112: In a marquee Western Conference clash, Nikola Jokic (35 PTS, 14-22 FG, 16 REB) had his way inside with Rudy Gobert (rib sprain) sidelined, and Denver got some big buckets from Michael Porter Jr. (26 PTS, 4-7 3PT, 4 REB) down the stretch to close out Anthony Edwards (30 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST) and the Wolves, who were playing on the second leg of a back-to-back - Denver (48-21) and Oklahoma City (47-20) are now one game up on Minnesota (47-22) for the top seed in the West

  • Dallas Mavericks 113, San Antonio Spurs 107: Luka Doncic (18 PTS, 6-7 FG, 10 REB, 16 AST) struggled from the field but still notched his 18th triple-double of the season, Kyrie Irving (28 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST) was in his bag and scored a game-high, and the Mavs slowed down Victor Wembanyama (22 PTS, 9 AST) to edge out the Spurs in San Antonio - Doncic now has seven triple-doubles in the month of March

  • New Orleans Pelicans 104, Brooklyn Nets 91: Don’t sleep on the Pels! Zion Williams (28 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST) and NOLA have now won seven of their last eight games and pumped Cam Thomas (25 PTS, 3 REB) and the Nets last night to move within a half-game back of the Clippers for fourth place in the West - New Orleans (42-26) won their season series with LA (42-25) 3-1

  • Houston Rockets 137, Washington Wizards 114: This just in: The Wizards stink. Jalen Green (42 PTS, 7-13 3PT, 10 REB) went silly and dropped 42 points to tie a career-high, as the Rockets blasted by Jordan Poole (13 PTS, 5-18 FG, 5 REB) and the struggling ‘Zards for their sixth straight dub - Washington (11-58) has the league’s worst record and has just four wins since the New Year

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

NHL - Top Games

  • Winnipeg Jets 4, New York Rangers 2: In a game between two Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup contenders, the Jets got the best of Alexis Lafreniere (1 G, 1 A) and the Metro-leading Rangers behind Mark Scheifele’s (3 G) hat trick at MSG - Winnipeg (44-19-5, 93 PTS) is now tied for first in the Central Division with Colorado (44-20-5, 93 PTS)

  • Colorado Avalanche 4, St. Louis Blues 3: Speaking of which, that’s seven straight for the Avs! Mikko Rantanen (3 G) opened up the scoring in the 1st, netted a game-tying goal in the 2nd, and then delivered the winner in the 3rd for a hat trick and Colorado’s seventh win in a row

  • Philadelphia Flyers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3: Owen Tippett (1 G, 1 A) tickled twine 19 seconds into the game before adding an assist, and the Flyers narrowly avoided blowing a 3-0 lead in the 3rd period to edge out John Tavares (1 G, 1 A), Auston Matthews (2 A), and the Leafs in the City of Brotherly Love - Toronto (38-20-9, 85 PTS) and Philadelphia (35-36-8, 78 PTS) both hold the third-seed in their respective divisions

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

🏀 Bracket Breakdown: South & Midwest Preview

Photo: Hungry Houston | Source: USA Today

March Madness is officially here! Although the First Four play-in games got underway last night, there’s still time to fill out — or overthink — your bracket before the Round of 64 tips off on Thursday. After breaking down the East Region yesterday, we'll highlight the South and Midwest today and then the West tomorrow, a few hours before the first round begins. CAUTION: Madness is brewing…

Men’s March Madness - South Region Preview

  • The South Region features some familiar top seeds who have been among the nation’s most consistent programs in the last few years; however, they all enter this year’s dance with question marks and are surrounded by potential bracket busters…

  • Top-seeded Houston, the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed, has been a favorite to cut down the nets all season but recently lost three key rotation players due to injury and is coming off a 28-point loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 final, while No. 2 Marquette may be without first-team All-American PG Tyler Kolek due to an oblique injury, which kept him out of the Big East tournament.

  • A pair of blue bloods, No. 3 Kentucky and No. 4 Duke, boast two of the most talented rosters in the land but each lost their respective opening conference tournament games, while No. 5 Wisconsin reached the Big 10 final but went 3-7 in their last 10 regular-season outings.

  • A battle-tested group of Power 6 conference members, No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 7 Florida, No. 8 Nebraska, and No. 9 Texas A&M, all earned at-large bids with 20-plus win seasons and could make some noise, and red-hot No. 11 NC State stole a bid to the ball by going on a magical run to take home the ACC tournament title - Boise State and Colorado will vie for the 10-seed in the First Four tonight.

  • Mid-major conference juggernauts No. 12 James Madison and No. 13 Vermont, who have 31 and 28 wins, respectively, possess the firepower to create chaos, No. 14 Oakland has won 17 of their last 20 games, No. 15 Western Kentucky is one of the fastest teams in the nation, and No. 16 Longwood is dancing for the second time in three years.

Odds to Win South Region

  • #1 Houston (+135)

  • #2 Marquette (+550)

  • #4 Duke (+650)

  • #3 Kentucky (+700)

  • #5 Wisconsin (+1300)

  • #7 Florida (+1600)

  • #6 Texas Tech (+1600)

  • #8 Nebraska (+3000)

  • #9 Texas A&M (+3500)

  • #10 Colorado (+3500)

  • #11 NC State (+4600)

  • #10 Boise State (+7500)

  • #12 James Madison (+7500)

  • #13 Vermont (+25000)

  • #14 Oakland (+25000)

  • #15 Western Kentucky (+25000)

  • #16 Longwood (+25000)

South Region Bracket & Schedule - Round of 64

  • #1 Houston vs. #16 Longwood Friday, 9:20pm ET, TNT

    • Spread: HOU -24.5

  • #8 Nebraska vs. #9 Texas A&M Friday, 6:50pm ET, TNT

    • Spread: NEB -1.5

  • #5 Wisconsin vs. #12 James Madison Friday, 9:40pm ET, CBS

    • Spread: WIS -5.5

  • #4 Duke vs. #13 Vermont Friday, 7:10pm ET, CBS

    • Spread: DUKE -11.5

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

    • Spread: TTU -5.5

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

    • Spread: UK -13.5

  • #7 Florida vs. #10 Boise State/Colorado Friday, 4:30pm ET, TBS

    • Spread: TBD

  • #2 Marquette vs. #15 Western Kentucky Friday, 2:00pm ET, CBS

    • Spread: MARQ -14.5

Men’s March Madness - Midwest Region Preview

  • The theme of the Midwest is redemption, with No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 Tennessee both looking to exorcise their March demons. After last year’s historic first-round faceplant against No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson — which marked their third straight tournament exit at the hands of a double-digit seed — the Boilermakers are back atop the bracket and hungry for hardware, while the Volunteers will look to avenge their recent early-round stumbles by reaching their first Final Four in program history.

  • But the upset watch in the Round of 64 is on two other powerhouses, as a banged-up No. 4 Kansas team, who is without star G Kevin McCullar Jr. (knee) for the tournament and nursing back injured All-American C Hunter Dickinson (shoulder), will take on a run-and-gun No. 13 Samford squad, and a scrappy No. 12 McNeese club is a popular 12-5 upset pick against No. 5 Gonzaga, who looks more vulnerable this season than in years past.

  • No. 6 South Carolina is also limping into the Big Dance and set to face the Pac-12 tournament champs, No. 11 Oregon, while No. 7 Texas and No. 8 TCU will have some tough respective Mountain West matchups against No. 10 Colorado State and No. 9 Utah State.

  • No. 3 Creighton is experienced and well-coached and joins Purdue and Tennessee as legitimate national champion contenders, but No. 14 Akron is no slouch, and the 2022 tournament darlings, No. 15 Saint Peter’s, also lurks as a proven bottom seed - Grambling State and Montana State will square off tonight in the First Four for the No. 16 seed.

Odds to Win Midwest Region

  • #1 Purdue (+165)

  • #2 Tennessee (+340)

  • #3 Crieghton (+460)

  • #5 Gonzaga (+950)

  • #4 Kansas (+1200)

  • #7 Texas (+2000)

  • #8 TCU (+2500)

  • #11 Oregon (+3500)

  • #6 South Carolina (+3900)

  • #9 Utah State (+4900)

  • #10 Colorado State (+6000)

  • #12 McNeese (+6500)

  • #13 Samford (+10000)

  • #14 Akron (+17000)

  • #15 Saint Peter’s (+25000)

  • #16 Grambling (+25000)

  • #16 Montana State (+25000)

Midwest Region Bracket & Schedule - Round of 64

  • #1 Purdue vs. Grambling State/Montana State Friday, 7:25pm ET, TBS

    • Spread: TBD

  • #8 Utah State vs. #9 TCU Friday, 9:55pm ET, TBS

    • Spread: TCU -4.5

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

    • Spread: GONZ -6.5

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

    • Spread: KU -7.5

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

    • Spread: SC -1.5

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

    • Spread: -12.5

  • #7 Texas vs #10 Colorado State Thursday, 6:50pm ET, TNT

    • Spread: TBD

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

    • Spread: TENN -21.5

See the full men’s NCAA Tournament bracket here.

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Since the men's NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, who holds the single-game scoring record?

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Photo: Ichiro says Goodbye | Source: CBS Sports

On March 20, 2019, Mariners legendary OF Ichiro Suzuki retired after 19 seasons in the MLB. Ichiro played 28 seasons of professional baseball, beginning his career in Japan's NPB league before leaving for the MLB. He finished his professional career with a record 4,367 base hits (NPB & MLB), was a seven-time NPB All-Star, and a 10-time MLB All-Star. He won both the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year Award in 2001 and set several batting records, including the MLB’s single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004. Ichiro achieved 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any MLB player, and in 2016, he became the 30th player in MLB history to record 3,000 career hits. He retired with a .311 batting average and will be a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for Cooperstown in 2025 - another amazing Ichiro stat: after recording his third MLB in his 10th career at-bat, his average never dipped below .300!

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

  • Midwest Region: #16 Grambling vs. #16 Montana State 6:40pm ET, truTV

  • South Region: #10 Colorado vs. #10 Boise State 9:10pm ET, truTV

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

  • Region 1: #16 Presbyterian vs. #16 Sacred Heart 7:00pm ET, ESPNU

  • Region 3: #12 Columbia vs. #12 Vanderbilt 9:00pm ET, ESPNU

NBA

  • Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, ESPN

  • Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors 10:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Full Schedule

NHL

  • Toronto Maple Leafs @ Washington Capitals 7:30pm ET, TNT

  • Arizona Coyotes @ Dallas Stars 8:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Minnesota Wild @ Los Angeles Kings 10:00pm ET, TNT

Trivia Time Answer

D. David Robinson. In 1987, “The Admiral” put Navy on his back and dropped 50 points while going 22-of-37 (58.8%) from the field in a first-round game against Michigan. Although the Midshipmen wound up losing, 97-82, Robinson’s 50-piece still stands as the single-game scoring record since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985, and it was the most points scored by a single player in a March Madness game since Notre Dame’s Austin Carr posted 52 in 1971 - Carr holds the all-time tournament scoring record with a 61-point performance in 1970.

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Men’s March Madness

  • East Region Winner: UConn (+100)

One more sleep until the Round of 64 begins! Thanks for reading!