Happy Thursday everyone and have a great first round of the Men’s NCAA Tournament! If you’re reading this before noon ET, you still have time to enter the Men’s Bracket Games (and until tomorrow at noon ET to enter the Women’s Bracket Games). And if you’re still waiting to finalize everything, you’re in luck: We’ve got every last-second tip you need.
Let’s get straight to it.
Good morning to everyone…
It’s the NCAA tournament. Need I say more? Whether you’ve watched hours and hours of basketball or zero-point-zero seconds, submitting a bracket is super easy, super fun, and — well, everyone’s doing it. Pick your favorite mascot or flip a coin, pick your pet… or, hey, just use our expert knowledge!
Nine of our best and brightest have filled out their bracketsand here is the breakdown of their league picks:
Why are Cougars so popular? Let Matt Norlander explain…
- Norlander: “Houston has been rated as the best team in college basketball in every mainstream advanced analytics metric for months… And if Marcus SasserThe groin problem may go away, meaning the Cougars will have a nasty three-guard offense, a future lottery pick (Jarace Walker) and coach (Kelvin Samson) that brought this school to the biggest stage just two years ago. They have the pedigree, the talent, the size, the strength and the toughness to do it.”
Cougars too they have one of the easiest paths in the Tournamentnotes our David Cobb, and if you’re worried about how far your top seeds are progressing, David’s story will help calm any nerves. Or maybe highlight them. At the very least, it will help you make your final decision.
However, zooming in on Round One alone, we have some terrific action today and tomorrow. David ranked all 32 races between now and the weekendand I think I can speak for most of us when I say I’m looking forward to it Oral Roberts vs. Duke.
- Cobb: “Oral Roberts stunned the No. 2 seed Ohio State in a first-round game two years ago behind the star guard’s play Max Abmas and reached the Sweet 16. Now, Abmas is back to try to take down the red-hot Blue Devils, who have won nine straight games with a rotation full of incredibly talented freshmen. ORU owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games and is a potential giant slayer once again.”
You can see Our experts’ picks for this game — and the other biggest games today — here. Still worried about your brace? Allow me to interest you Matt’s annual numbers to know columnwhich is packed with all the stats that can help inform your decisions. The FUNK Method by Andrew Tulin it’s also a really fun way to narrow down the field.
And ending it — of course — is the best of the rest.
More than anything, enjoy the next few weeks. Whether your support survives to the end or it’s a few hours from now, this is the best time of the year. There’s nothing like the NCAA Tournament. The twists, the buzzer beaters, the emotions… we’ll be here to enjoy it with you.
The brackets are here! Return to your pools and join us Men’s and Women’s Challenges for a chance to win a new SUV and a dream college basketball trip! No purchase required. See Terms & Rules for details.
And not so good morning for…
EDWIN DÍAZ AND THE NEW YORK METS
In the blink of an eye, pure joy turned to utter horror for Edwin Diaz — and The New York Mets. The Mets All-Star reliever suffered an apparent injury to the right knee after closing out a huge win for Puerto Rico against him Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
He was carried — and then wheeled — off the fieldbut it was it is difficult to understand exactly how Díaz, 28, was injured. He was among a large handful of players jumping onto the field after the win.
- Díaz, is coming off a great season in which converted 32 of 35 save chancesposted a 1.31 ERA and won the Trevor Hoffman Award, given to the NL’s top reliever.
- Díaz signed a five-year, $102 million contract with the Mets last offseason.
- The win sent Puerto Rico into the quarterfinals and eliminated the Dominican Republic.
… AND ALSO NOT SO GOOD FOR EZEKIEL ELLIOTT
It’s the end of an era in Dallas. The Cowboys was released Ezekiel Elliottending his seven-year stint with Dallas that saw him take the reins Third most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in franchise history.
- Elliott, 27, has won two rushing titles, but average 3.9 yards per touch in 2022;the worst among the 30 players with at least 200 touches. Tony Pollard, which the Cowboys franchise taggedaveraging 5.9 yards per touch to top that list.
- Elliott still had four years left on a six-year, $90 million extension. None of the remaining money, however, was guaranteed.
- Here are potential landing spots for Elliott.
Not so honorable mentions
Aaron Rodgers intends to play for the Jets, but no deal yet 🏈
After a retreat into darknessone meeting with another teamone wish list and many other twists and turns… We still don’t have an official resolution to the Aaron Rodgers saga. But we are close.
The four-time MVP he intends to play for Jetbut the deal isn’t done yet:
Obviously, this is huge news for the Jets. But the Packers are kind of winners, too. If they were going to lose Rodgers, losing him this way at least gives the team some leverage in terms of price and timing, writes our own Jordan Dajani.
Finally, late on Wednesday, the Bengal signed four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.who served as Patrick MahomesBlind spot guard during last year’s Super Bowl run, on a four-year deal. It’s a huge move, given that Cincinnati and Kansas City figure to be facing each other in the AFC for a long time to come.
As always, you can follow all the comings and goings…
The NBA suspended Ja Morant eight games without pay 🏀
The NBA is officially suspended Grizzlies star Ja Morad eight games for “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous” behaviour which comes from a social media post showing him brandishing a gun in a nightclub.
- The six games Morant has already missed count toward the suspension. That means he is eligible to return on Monday, although he is not expected to play in that game. He was not charged with a crime.
- Morant entered a counseling program in Florida to “get help and work on learning better ways to deal with stress and my overall well-being.”
- In an interviewMorad said the gun was not his and that he “made a bad mistake”.
What are we watching on Thursday 📺?
🏀 We’re watching the men’s NCAA tournament. Here’s how.
🏀 We also watch the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Here’s how.
🏀 Magic at Suns10 p.m. on NBA TV