Edition 3.17.14

The NCAA Tournament is here! There’s so much to talk about — from the match-ups, to the seeds, to the players, the coaches and more. Don’t worry, we’ll get to all of that… but for now, let’s talk about another reason why we love March Madness: the human interest stories. Check out this inspiring video on Michigan State’s Adreian Payne and his friend Lacey:

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

Men’s College Basketball

Championship Week more than lived up to the hype. We saw a lot of great basketball throughout each of the Conference Tournaments. Here’s the rundown of the outcomes: #1 Florida narrowly beat Kentucky in the SEC Championship 61-60 while #6 UVA beat #7 Duke in a tight and physical ACC Championship game 72-63. #22 Michigan State upset #8 Michigan in a dominating 69-55 at the Big Ten Tournament, #16 Iowa State defeated Baylor 74-65 for the Big 12 Tournament Championship and UCLA upset #3 Arizona in the Pac 10 Championship 75-71. #5 Louisville topped #21 UConn to take the AAC Title 71-61 while Providence upset #14 Creighton to win this year’s Big East Title 65-58. What does all of this mean? Well, each winning team gets to claim their Conference Tournament Championship and goes into the NCAA Tournament on a winning streak.

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament… your 68 teams have been selected, and it’s time to talk about the Madness:

Your four number 1 seeds are: Florida (the overall number 1 seed) in the South, Virginia in the East, Arizona in the West, and Wichita State in the Midwest.

The Midwest bracket appears to be the toughest with Michigan as the 2 seed, Duke as the 3 seed, and Louisville as the 4 seed. At various points in the last few days, all four of these teams were predicted to be #1 seeds, which shows just how talented and tough this part of the bracket is going to be.

The East is generally being regarded as the easiest bracket, with Villanova as the 2 seed, Iowa State as the 3 seed and Michigan State as the 4 seed.

In the West, we see Wisconsin as the 2 seed, Creighton as the 3 seed and San Diego State as the 4 seed. The bracket out West is tough with Arizona potentially having to play a dangerous Oklahoma State team, the 8 seed, in the second round.

In the South, Kansas is the 2 seed, Syracuse is the 3 seed and UCLA is the 4 seed. The big news out there is the health of Joel Embiid. The star freshman for Kansas is out with a stress fracture in his back until at least the Sweet 16.

Finally, who got snubbed? SMU. They were expected to get into the tournament, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

When does the tournament get started? The play-in games kick off March 18th and 19th, with match-ups between 2 pairs of the 16 seeds, 1 pair of the 11 seeds, and 1 pair of the 12 seeds. All of the winners from these play-in games will then move onto the NCAA Tournament, which officially gets going on Thursday, March 20th. Times haven’t been announced just yet, but you can see all of the match-ups, seedings and what days each team is playing in the official bracket.  Anyone can win, so get ready for an exciting ride!

Stay tuned for our in-depth March Madness NCAA Tournament Primer coming your way on Wednesday!

NBA

Phil Jackson is officially set to join the New York Knicks. The former coach of the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls will head to New York as the President of Basketball Operations on a 5-year deal that is reportedly paying him roughly $12 million a year. Star player Carmelo Anthony calls this a “power move” and seems to be happy with the news. Why does that matter? Well, Mr. Anthony hits the free agent market this summer, and the Knicks sure would like to see him stay.

What a Sunday night for New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. The recently turned 21-year-old concluded the weekend with a 40 point, 21 rebound performance in an overtime win against the Boston Celtics. This kid is the real deal. And, in a potential finals match-up, the Miami Heat defeated the Houston Rockets in a close game thanks to Ray Allen’s 4th quarter heroics on Sunday afternoon. This was a much needed win for the Heat, who were coming off a difficult stretch of losses.

On the injury front, the LA Lakers have officially declared Steve Nash is out for the season. Nash made headlines this week after openly discussing that his love of the game, his critics, and his desire for money drive him to keep playing. Earlier this week, the Lakers also announced that Kobe Bryant will remain out for the rest of the season as well, since he is recovering from a knee injury.

What’s ahead in the NBA this week? Not too many games stand out during the week, but the Boston Celtics face the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Friday night. This past week, the Nets signed Jason Collins for the remainder of the this year’s NBA season. Also on Friday, the Indiana Pacers face the Chicago Bulls in Indiana. The game of the weekend comes down to San Antonio and Golden State, as the Spurs face the Warriors in the Bay next Saturday.

Other

In the NHL – after suffering a frightening cardiac-scare on the sidelines of the Dallas Stars bench, forward Rich Peverley is expected to make a full recovery. The hockey player even attended a Dallas Stars home game later in the week, where he and the medical staff were awarded a standing ovation. Peverley will be out for the rest of the season.

It may be the off-season, but there is still plenty of action going on in pro football. The Denver Broncos made plenty of news this week with their off-season signings. Looking to improve their offense and defense, they signed an excellent group of free agents including defensive end Demarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. In other NFL news, former Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Martin had left the Miami Dolphins last season after being cruelly bullied and hazed by teammates. He will get a fresh start in San Francisco under the leadership of Coach Harbaugh, who was also his coach back when they were both at Stanford. Other noteworthy signings include: wide receiver Steve Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, running back Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Julius Peppers to the Green Bay Packers, and wide receiver Julian Edelman re-signing with the New England Patriots.

One of the best fútbol players in the world, Lionel Messi, just became an ever bigger deal. At 26 years old, the soccer star became the all-time leading scorer for his Barcelona squad. He now has 371 goals.

The official bracket for the women’s college basketball NCAA Tournament will be announced Monday night during the selection show. Expect UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Tennessee to all get the top seeds.

JUST FOR FUN

What’s left to do for Russell Wilson now that he’s won a Super Bowl ring?
Win another one, of course… Well, and appear in the upcoming Entourage movie

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

It’s all about Zen
Predicting the impact of Phil Jackson
Will Phil Jackson revitalize the struggling New York Knicks? Grantland’s Zack Lowe examines the situation

Truly the best
What’s not to love about Jabari Parker?
Check out this touching story on how Jabari Parker spent his evening after beating UNC last week

Doug McBuckets
Take a look at the nation’s top scorer’s path to greatness
Doug McDermott is the 8th player in NCAA history to score over 3,000 points

Shockers
What exactly is the Wichita State mascot?
Learn a little more about college basketball’s only undefeated team

Back to Back?
Let’s talk about the Red Sox
Will the Boston Red Sox repeat this season as world champions in the MLB?

Puppy love
Reunited and it feels so good
Silver medalist, Winter Olympian, and American Skier Gus Kenworthy is finally reunited with the puppies he adopted in Sochi

COOL HAPPENINGS

Generation W will host its 3rd Annual Women’s Leadership Conference on April 4th, in Jacksonville, FL. Founded by our friend and former WNBA President, Donna Orender, the goal of Generation W is to “provide a platform to elevate the voice of women and help promote the change they want to see in the world.” Speakers include Carla Harris, Lisa Shalett, and Richard Lapchick. Program and registration information here.

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