Happy Monday morning everyone! Before you read any further, go fill out a men’s NCAA Tournament bracket. Then fill out a women’s NCAA Tournament bracket. And then come right back here, because we have plenty of insight to help you win your bracket pool.
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
COLLEGE BASKETBALL FANS…
Welcome to the NCAA Tournament, everyone! The 68-team field for the men’s tournament was announced last night, and it’s a dandy. Gonzaga claimed the top overall seed, and Arizona, Kansas and Baylor joined the ‘Zags on the No. 1 line. You can check out the committee’s entire seeding 1-68 right here.
While that seeding is important, our very own college basketball reporter Matt Norlander has ranked the field from 1-68, and number one is still looking for that elusive first title…
- Norlander: “1. Gonzaga. The No. 1 overall seed again, and with good reason. The Bulldogs have been sitting at No. 1 in every predictive metric for more than a month. This team isn’t quite as good as last year’s that entered the Big Dance with an undefeated record, but it’s just as much of a threat to win it all thanks to the arrival of 7-foot-1 freshman Chet Holmgren. There is no one in the sport like him. Gonzaga’s floor is higher than any other team, while its ceiling is as good as any other team, too.”
Here is everything else you need to know:
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Oh, you thought Selection Sunday was reserved for college basketball? Think again. Tom Brady is un-retiring and returning to the Buccaneers … less than two month after retiring.
His return carries a massive impact across the NFL, but the biggest one is that the Buccaneers are right back in the Super Bowl conversation. They’re currently +1000 to win it all this coming season at Caesars Sportsbook, only behind the Bills (+750) and Chiefs (+800).
Brady, of course, has shown he has the antidote to Father Time. Last year, he…
- Led the NFL in completions, attempts, passing yards and passing touchdowns
- Finished second in MVP voting behind Aaron Rodgers
- Won 13 games for the first time since his MVP-winning 2017 season
Brady’s far from the only NFL player ever to un-retire (the list has plenty of notable names) and it’s no coincidence that he announced his return when he did: The legal tampering period — when teams can begin preliminary negotiations with pending unrestricted free agents — opens today, and Brady’s return certainly makes Tampa Bay a more enticing destination.
While it may seem like this was some grand plan all along, that’s not the case at all writes NFL insider Jason La Canfora:
- La Canfora: “Brady headed into the playoffs feeling as if this was the end. He believed he was at peace with moving on with his life. … Everyone has the right to change their mind about such an individual decision. … And with the career span of an athlete – even a unicorn like Brady – so short, and their primes so finite, no one should question how and/or when they step aside, and whether or not they want to come back.”
And not such a good morning for…
THE NFC SOUTH
Sorry, Panthers, Falcons and Saints fans. Your division looked like the most open in football for the last month. Now, you’re thinking what Bills, Jets and Dolphins thought for two decades: Ugh, this guy. Again.
Here’s how Brady’s done against NFC South teams in his two years with Tampa Bay:
- vs Panthers: 4-0 record, 8 touchdowns, 1 interception, 108.9 passer rating
- vs Falcons: 4-0 record, 15 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 118.0 passer rating
- vs Saints: 0-4 record, 6 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 71.5 passer rating
Ok, so maybe the Saints have found a way to stop him, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy he’s back, either. There’s little doubting the Buccaneers are better with Brady, and the betting market agrees; Tampa Bay is -230 to win the NFC South, the shortest odds of any NFL team to win its division.
Not so honorable mentions
Snubs and surprises from the NCAA men’s tournament 🏀
There’s March Madness, and then there’s March sadness. The heartache. The teams that just miss out. The oh-so-close.
Who fell into that category this year? How about a team that entered its conference tournament on a hot streak, won three games — including ones over the No. 4 and No. 15 team in the country — and was playing for a major conference title yesterday afternoon?
Yes, Texas A&M fans have the right to be frustrated, writes our college basketball expert David Cobb:
- Cobb: “Texas A&M fans are likely looking at Rutgers‘ inclusion and the Aggies’ exclusion with their jaws on the floor. If a fervent rally in the second half of the season was enough to get Rutgers in, why couldn’t a similar rally get Texas A&M in? Texas A&M (42) [was] 35 spots higher in the NET than Rutgers (77) and 31 spots higher in KenPom. The fact that Rutgers lost in its first Big Ten Tournament game while Texas A&M won three in the SEC Tournament only makes it a tougher pill to swallow.”
The Aggies were in essence the fourth team on the wrong side of the bubble, behind Dayton, Oklahoma and SMU. It’s a tough morning for the Flyers, too. They lost to Richmond by four on Saturday and then watched Richmond win the Atlantic 10 title by two over Davidson on Sunday to earn the automatic bid, stealing the Flyers’ spot from right under their nose.
You can check out all the losers from Selection Sunday (and, yes, some winners, too) right here.
Women’s NCAA tournament features first 68-team field ever 🏆
Selection Sunday wasn’t just for the men. The women’s bracket — expanded to 68 teams for the first time — was revealed last night. Here are the 1 seeds:
That Bridgeport Region raised some eyebrows, as NC State will head to UConn territory as the top seed instead of the Huskies. UConn just got superstar Paige Bueckers back from injury, won the Big East Tournament title game by 30 points and are 10-1 when Bueckers plays this season. A potential Wolfpack-Huskies meeting in the Nutmeg State looms large.
Kevin Durant makes history as Nets beat Knicks 🔥
There are games where you cannot stop Kevin Durant; you can only hope to contain him. And in games like Sunday’s, you can’t even do that. The Nets superstar scored 53 points in a 110-107 win over the Knicks.
- It was Durant’s second-most points in a game in his career. He scored 54 in a game in 2014.
- It’s the most points ever by a Nets player against the Knicks.
- With Ben Simmons still out and Kyrie Irving unable to play home games (though he did sit courtside), Durant attempted a career-high 37 shots, making 19.
It was a dazzling display from all over the court writes NBA reporter Jack Maloney:
- Maloney: “With an array of impossible-to-guard shots that included runners off the glass, pull-up jumpers off the dribble and catch-and-shoot 3s, Durant dominated all day long. Even when the Knicks resorted to double-teaming him any time he had the ball in the fourth quarter, Durant still managed to break free for a clutch 3 in the final minute.”
What we’re watching Monday 📺
🏀 Nuggets at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Bucks at Jazz, 10 p.m. on ESPN