The Brink of Busted Brackets

March 17, 2021

Hey Team 

It’s the calm before the storm. Only two days left to fill out your brackets. Don’t forget to join The Sportsletter’s Bracket Challenge for your chance to win $500.

Group Name: The Sportsletter

Password: sportsletter2021

In Friday’s edition, I’ll help you pack your March Madness Preparedness Kit — a full guide to surviving three weeks of seeds, upsets, schedules, history, trends, highlights and more. It’s almost time…

Letter Rip!

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NCAA

The NCAA All-America Teams

Photo: Michael Hickey / Getty Images

AP All-America Selections Indicate ‘Players to Watch’ in March Madness

 

As the NCAA Tournament inches closer — is this the longest week ever, or what? — the end-of-year awards start rolling in. The 2020-21 Associated Press All-America teams were revealed on Tuesday, and three teams garnered nearly half of the honors — Gonzaga (3), Baylor (2) and Illinois (2).

 

Youth Movement: Four freshmen earned selections, led by Oklahoma State standout and projected No. 1 overall pick, Cade Cunningham. Other potential “one-and-done” freshmen on the list included Evan Mobley (USC), Hunter Dickinson (Michigan) and Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga).

 

Instead of giving you a biased “Top Players to Watch in the NCAA Tournament” list, we’ll let the consensus selections do the talking.

 

AP All-America Teams

 

1st Team

Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State)

Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois)

Jared Butler (Baylor)

Corey Kispert (Gonzaga)

Luka Garza (Iowa)

 

2nd Team

Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga)

Drew Timme (Gonzaga)

Evan Mobley (USC)

Kofi Cockburn (Illinois)

Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)

 

3rd Team

Davion Mitchell (Baylor)

Quentin Grimes (Houston)

Herb Jones (Alabama)

Chris Duarte (Oregon)

Cameron Krutwig (Loyola Chicago)

 

Additional Storylines

B/R: Ranking the 25 Best Players in the 2021 Men’s NCAA Tournament

AP: Gonzaga & Baylor Dominate AP All-America Teams

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NFL

Free Agency: Day 2

Photo: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars Win Day 2 of Free Agency; Patriots Add Another Weapon

 

As the March Madness festivities wait patiently, there’s no shortage of madness taking place in the NFL right now. Day 2 of the early tampering period for NFL free agents saw another key playmaker join the New England Patriots, but it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars who made the most noise on Tuesday. New head coach Urban Meyer added some skill players to build around his (expected) incoming No. 1 pick, QB Trevor Lawrence.

 

We’re closing in on 100 free-agent agreements in just 48 hours, and only one team has yet to make a new signing — the Philadelphia Eagles. Here’s the wrap from Day 2:

 

The 10 Biggest Signings of Day 2

 

TE Hunter Henry → Patriots

Deal: 3 Years, $37.5 Million

 

CB Shaquill Griffin → Jaguars

Deal: 3 Years, $40 Million

 

DE Yannick Ngakoue → Raiders

Deal: 2 Years, $26 Million

 

DT Dalvin Tomlinson → Vikings

Deal: 2 Years, $22 Million

 

CB Ronald Darby → Broncos

Deal: 3 Years, $30 Million

 

WR Marvin Jones → Jaguars

Deal: 2 Years, $14.5 Million

 

WR Emmanuel Sanders → Bills

Deal: 1 Year, TBD

 

QB Andy Dalton → Bears

Deal: 1 Year, $13 Million

 

CB Janoris Jenkins → Titans

Deal: TBD

 

QB Tyrod Taylor → Texans

Deal: 1 Year, $6 Million

 

Additional Storylines

CBS Sports: Chiefs Release Super Bowl Hero RB Damien Williams

NFL: Broncos Pick Up Von Miller’s Option; Will Play in Denver for $18 Million in 2021

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SOCCER

Real Madrid is Still Kicking…

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images

Champions League: Real Madrid & Manchester City Advance to Quarterfinals

 

Despite all the despair for Real Madrid in the last year, Los Blancos are still alive and heading to the Champions League quarterfinals. The club ended Atalanta’s Cinderella run on Tuesday, while Manchester City remained dominant in their pursuit of a Champions League title.

 

Real Madrid def. Atalanta (3-1) | Wins 4-1

No one would’ve believed Atalanta had a shot at reaching the Champions League Knockout Stage when the tournament began in the fall, but the Italian side entered Leg 2 of the Round of 16 just one goal back of the once-juggernauts from Real Madrid. That’s where the story would end. Goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio helped Madrid cruise into the quarterfinals and (potentially) salvage something from a historically bad season.

 

Man. City def. Monchengladbach (2-0) | Wins 4-0

A no-doubter, here. Manchester City continued their dominating season with another shutout against German challengers Borussia Monchengladbach. Early goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan gave City a four-goal advantage before playing the possession game. They’ve now outscored opponents 17-1 in Champions League play this season.

 

Today’s Schedule

Bayern vs. Lazio (4:00 pm ET)

Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid (4:00 pm ET)

 

Bayern (4-1) and Chelsea (1-0) hold aggregate leads.

 

Quarterfinals: FC Porto, Borussia Dortmund, PSG and Liverpool are already through to the quarterfinals. The draw for the QFs takes place Friday (March 19).

 

Additional Storylines

ESPN: ‘Lots of Hunger Left’ for Real Madrid After Reaching UCL Quarterfinals

Goal.com: Dominating Manchester City Defense Reaches 15-Year Champions League High

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🎥 THE HIGHLIGHTS

🏀 NBA: A 50-Spot Rally for Dame Time

Damian Lillard dropped 50 points and 10 assists to spark a Blazers’ 17-point comeback against the Pelicans (125-124) in the final six minutes. He also hit two free throws for the win with 1.2 seconds left.

 

🏒 NHL: Ovi Ends the Islanders’ Streak

Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th career goal to pass Phil Esposito for sixth on the NHL’s all-time scoring list Tuesday night. In doing so, he led the Capitals over the Islanders (3-1) to halt New York’s win streak at nine games.

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THE STORYLINES

🏈 What in the World are “Voidable Years”?

If you’ve been following free agency lately, you may have noticed the phrase “voidable years” pop up in deals for Tom Brady, Taysom Hill, and other players. So what are these things, and why are teams using them? (The Ringer)

 

🏀 Inside ‘NBA Top Shot’ Highlights

Welcome to the new digital marketplace for sports trading cards. If you’re an extremely online NBA fan, you’re going to be hearing about Top Shot soon, if you haven’t already. Here’s why people are spending thousands on digital highlight moments. (Bleacher Report)

 

⚾️ Two Weeks Into Spring Training

One month ago Monday, pitchers and catchers started to trickle into spring training camps across Arizona and Florida. Meaningful baseball isn’t too far away. Here are some things we’ve learned at the halfway point of the exhibition season. (CBS Sports)

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BRACKETS 🏀

The Sportsletter’s Bracket Challenge

Play: The Sportsletter’s Bracket Challenge

 

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Password: sportsletter2021

 

Rewards

1st Place: $500

Runner-Up: $100

3rd, 4th & 5th: Sportsletter Gear

Top-10: Recognition in The Sportsletter on Apr. 6

 

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