A Message to the Field

03/03/2021

Good Morning,

You want a statement before March Madness? Illinois just sent a message to the rest of college basketball. Super Tuesday gave us two matchups between should-be No. 1 and 2 seeds. A tourney-teaser if there ever was one.

Letter Rip!

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NCAA

Super Statement Games

Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

#3 Baylor Bounces Back & #4 Illinois Gets Resounding Win in a Tourney-Teaser Night

 

Let the 1-seed chatter commence. Super Tuesday’s super slate of college basketball games showcased a dog fight in the Big 12 and a blowout in the Big Ten. It’s not often we get a pair of matchups amongst two sets of 1 or 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, before the NCAA Tournament. Tuesday was just that.

 

#3 Baylor def. #6 W. Virginia (94-89, OT)

After losing their first game of the season over the weekend, Baylor survived West Virginia in overtime to claim their first Big 12 title. It was also the program’s first conference title in 71 years since before they were a member of the Big 12. Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell combined for 45 points in the conference-clinching performance. BU still has two games against ranked teams — #17 Oklahoma State and #18 Texas Tech — to finish out the regular season.

 

#4 Illinois def. #2 Michigan (76-53)

In Game 2 of the night, Illinois handed Michigan a devastating loss, and they did it without their star point guard Ayo Dosunmu. The Illini got huge nights from Trent Frazier (22 points) and Andre Curbelo (17 points) as they closed the gap on Michigan’s lead in conference play. The Wolverines have lost just twice this season — by 23 and 18 points. Illinois has lost just once in the last 10 games. They finish the regular season at #7 Ohio State on Saturday (4:00 pm ET).

 

Other NCAA Scores

#23 Purdue def. #25 Wisconsin (73-69)

#8 Alabama def. Auburn (70-58)

#12 Arkansas def. S. Carolina (101-73)

#15 Texas def. Iowa State (81-67)

#18 Texas Tech def. TCU (69-49)

 

NCAA Tournament Storylines

ESPN: Bubble Watch: Indiana Slumping in Bid to Make the Cut

CBS Sports: College Basketball Scores: Michigan State Wins, Duke Loses With NCAA Tournament at Stake

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NFL

Free Agency Wish Lists

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

The Top Targets for NFL Teams When Free Agency Opens in 2 Weeks

 

Ah, the rumor mill. It’s not always our favorite — a sidebar to daily facts and news stories — but sports fans live for it. With NFL free agency set to open in just two weeks (Mar. 17, 4:00 pm ET), the talk of targets are heating up in front offices across the league. There are holes to fill on every roster, and free agency provides those pieces before the draft. The Cardinals’ early signing of J.J. Watt was a rare agreement since he had been outright released by Houston. Now, the real free agents wait.

 

Here are our top-10 players to watch as free-agent talks heat up. See any your team should pursue?

 

Top-10 Free Agent Targets

1. WR Allen Robinson

2. DE Leonard Williams

3. OT Trent Williams

4. WR Chris Godwin

5. S Justin Simmons

6. RB Aaron Jones

7. DE Shaquil Barrett

8. LB Bud Dupree

9. G Brandon Scherff

10. C Corey Linsley

 

Other Notable Free Agents: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Jadeveon Clowney, G Joe Thuney, DE Matt Judon, DE Yannick Ngakoue, WR Will Fuller, QB Cam Newton, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, QB Jameis Winston, TE Hunter Henry, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Corey Davis, LB Lavonte David, CB Richard Sherman, WR T.Y. Hilton,

 

What About Dak?

The Dallas Cowboys and QB Dak Prescott have until March 9 to reach a long-term contract before the franchise tag deadline.

 

Additional Storylines

ESPN: Vikings Release TE Kyle Rudolph After 10 Seasons

Sporting News: Dak Prescott’s Contract, Explained: Cowboys Weigh Doubling Down on Franchise Tag vs. Long-Term Deal

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NBA

The All-Star Event Rosters

Photo: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Curry, Doncic & Booker Accept Invites to Skills Challenge & 3-Point Contest This Saturday

 

The 70th NBA All-Star Weekend is almost upon us. The all-star rosters came out last week, but the participants in the ancillary events were revealed yesterday. What are we keeping an eye on? The loaded 3-point contest features two past winners in Steph Curry and Devin Booker. Here are the players aiming for bragging rights this Saturday.

 

NBA All-Star Event Participants

 

Skills Challenge

Chris Paul (Suns)

Luka Doncic (Mavericks)

Robert Covington (Blazers)

Julius Randle (Knicks)

Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)

Nikola Vucevic (Magic)

 

3-Point Contest

Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Devin Booker (Suns)

Jaylen Brown (Celtics)

Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)

Zach LaVine (Bulls)

 

Slam Dunk Contest

Obi Toppin (Knicks)

Anfernee Simons (Blazers)

Cassius Stanley (Pacers)

 

Additional Storylines

SI: Zion Says No to Dunk Contest, LaMelo Ball Opts Out of Skills Challenge

DraftKings: Stephen Curry, Devin Booker Highlight Loaded 3-Point Contest Field

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🎥 THE HIGHLIGHTS

🏀 NBA: Jokic Shows Up Giannis

Nikola Jokic had a 37-point triple-double as he outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo in a one-sided meeting between the Nuggets and Bucks (128-97). Denver (20-16) has won three straight after an ugly February. They’re now 7th in the West.

 

🏒 NHL: Ducharme Gets First Win

The Montreal Canadiens secured their first win since making a coaching shift to Dominique Ducharme last week. They beat the Senators (3-1) thanks to power play goals from Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry before Tyler Toffoli’s icer.

 

⚽️ EPL: Man. City Extends Streak to 21

The streak continues! Manchester City were 4-1 winners in dominating fashion over Wolverhampton on Tuesday. Their streak — 15 Premier League wins and 21 overall — gives them a 15-point edge on the rest of the EPL with a shot to secure the league as soon as April 4.

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THE STORYLINES 

💬 Politics vs. Sports: The LeBron-Ibra Feud

LeBron James and Zlatan Ibrahimovic went back and forth this week about political and social activism from athletes. “Athletes unite the world, politics divide it. Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best.” (ESPN)

 

🏈 NFL Teams That Should Blow It Up

Championship windows open and close at varying speeds. Teams that can gauge this and act accordingly tend to have shorter downswing periods. These teams should get ahead of the curve and blow it up this offseason. (Bleacher Report)

 

⚾️ 10 Guesses for 2021 Home Run King

Baseball is rife with sluggers these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to guess who will lead the Majors in homers in any given year. Here are 10 contenders to be 2021’s Major League home run king. (MLB.com)

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📰 THE HEADLINES

Daughter of Cardinals Legend Okays Team to Unretire No. 99 Jersey for J.J. Watt

(CBS Sports)

 

Both Indians and Mets Said They Knew of Manager Mickey Callaway’s Lewd Behavior

(Bleacher Report)

 

Johnny Manziel Turns His Focus to Becoming Professional Golfer

(USA Today)

 

Nike Executive Resigns After Report of Son’s Lucrative Sneaker Resale Business

(Yahoo! Sports)

 

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Executes Search Warrant for Black Box in Tiger Woods’s Car

(Sports Illustrated)

 

Toronto Raptors Return From COVID-19 Cancellations on Wednesday Without 5 Players & Head Coach

(ESPN)

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🗓️ TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE

The Must-Watch List

James Harden returns to Houston tonight for the first time since his ugly exit. Plus, it’s a matchup of the top teams from East and West in the NBA.

 

NBA

Jazz at 76ers (7:00 pm)

Nets at Rockets (7:30 pm)

Warriors at Blazers (10:00 pm)

 

NHL

Capitals at Bruins (7:00 pm)

Wild at Golden Knights (10:00 pm)

 

Spanish Copa del Rey

Barcelona vs. Sevilla (3:00 pm)

 

*All Times Eastern

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