A double-OT stunner in the First Four, plus NFL and MLB free-agent mega-deals? Wednesday was something special, but today is a sports holiday. No bracket is safe. Make one and prove me wrong.
Last call for brackets! Join The Sportsletter Bracket Pool and make your picks BEFORE GAMES START TODAY (12:15 pm ET).
Pool Name: The Sportsletter (March Madness)
Pool Password: SportsletterBracket2022
1st Place: $500 Amazon Gift Card (+ Swag)
2nd Place: $250 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card
Irish Ignite the Madness
Notre Dame Outlasts Rutgers in First Four Double-OT Thriller (89-87, 2OT)
The madness can’t be contained. Notre Dame and Rutgers needed double overtime to find a winner in an NCAA Tournament barn-burner. The game went past midnight to find a winner before the Irish — just minutes into St. Patrick’s Day — got the last laugh. After countless game-tying moments (18 lead changes in all), Paul Atkinson Jr. (26 points) corralled a rebound for Notre Dame and delivered the game-winning put-back. The luck of the Irish! Earlier in the 16-seed matchup, Wright State won its first NCAA Tournament game behind 37 points from Tanner Holden. The women’s action saw #11 Dayton blow out #11 DePaul while #16 Howard advanced.
Let’s recap Wednesday’s First Four (men’s and women’s) before turning the page to the First Round.
Men’s First Four Highlights
Women’s First Four Highlights
Today’s NCAA Tournament Tip-Off Notes
The time has come. No more COVID-19 cancelations or empty arenas. It’s the real deal, and it starts now. Today’s schedule features three 1-seeds, a trio of 8-9 matchups and another triple dose of the always-popular 5-12 battles.
What I’m Watching: To be clear, the answer is everything. But if I’m getting specific, I like the spicy matchup between 9-seed Marquette and 8-seed North Carolina. The 5-12 game between Indiana and St. Mary’s has plenty of intrigue. San Francisco and Murray State (7-10) gives me mid-major vibes where everyone’s a winner. And Richmond vs. Iowa (5-12) could be points, points and more points.
Upset Alert: Don’t sleep on 11-seed Michigan and 13-seed Vermont. Michigan can compete with anyone, and the Catamounts are giant-killers.
Players to Watch: There are plenty, but I have four notable ones worth the watch if you haven’t seen them on the national stage. Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Keegan Murray (Iowa) are stars you may know, but you might not know of Colorado State’s David Roddy. He’s must-see TV, and he’ll tip things off with the first game of the day.
Let’s. Go. Dancing!
Tonight’s First Four (Women)
#16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. #16 Longwood (7:00 pm, ESPN)
#11 Florida State vs. #11 Missouri State (9:00 pm, ESPN)
*All Times Eastern
CBS Sports: Numbers to Know for 2022 NCAA Tournament
Free Agency: Bills Ink Von Miller
Buffalo Signs Super Bowl-Winning Pass Rusher to 6-Year, $120 Million Deal
The Bills broke the bank! In a stunning free-agent signing, Buffalo shelled out the cash to steal pass rusher Von Miller from the Super Bowl winning Rams. At 32 years old, Miller’s six-year, $120 million contract is eye-popping. It’s a front-loaded deal, meaning the Bills are pinging their Super Bowl window for the near future even if it means paying Miller the big bucks in his late 30s. The announcement was shocking given the decision to leave sunny Los Angeles and spurn Dallas for the weather in Buffalo, but Miller’s legendary career has produced two Super Bowls in Denver and L.A. The Bills are hoping he’ll pay out a third Lombardi Trophy while QB Josh Allen is in his prime.
Notable Free-Agent Signings
Bills Sign LB Von Miller (6 Years, $120 Million)
Bucs Re-Sign WR Chris Godwin (3 Years, $60 Million)
Ravens Sign DE Za’Darius Smith (4 Years, $50 Million)
Bills Sign TE O.J. Howard (1 Year, $3.5 Million)
Dolphins Sign RB Raheem Mostert (1 Year, $3.1 Million)
Buffalo News: Von Miller Can Help Josh Allen Get Over the Hump
Free Agency: Rockies Recruit Kris Bryant
Colorado Signs 3rd Baseman to 7-Year, $182 Million Mega-Deal
Kris Bryant is moving for the third time in less than a year. The former Cubs star was traded to the Giants before last season’s trade deadline, and now he’s heading to Colorado. The Rockies recruited Bryant with a massive seven-year, $182 million deal. Bryant began to slump last season after the trade, but the 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion still earned his fourth All-Star nod in 2021. The Rockies have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and last year’s trade of Nolan Arenado coupled with Trevor Story’s likely departure made Colorado desperate for a versatile player like Bryant. He’ll likely be the cornerstone bat alongside Charlie Blackmon.
Notable Free-Agent Signings
Rockies Sign 3B Kris Bryant (7 Years, $182 Million)
Cubs Sign OF Seiya Suzuki (5 Years, $85 Million)
Phillies Sign OF Kyle Schwarber (4 Years, $80 Million)
Yankees Re-Sign Anthony Rizzo (2 Years, $32 Million)
Dodgers Sign 1B Freddie Freeman (6 Years, $162 Million)
A busy night in the NBA had plenty of highlights to choose from, but Spencer Dinwiddie’s revenge buzzer-beater took the cake. Dinwiddie hit a game-winner Sunday in Boston, and he returned to Brooklyn with another one to take down his former team (113-111).
Amid ownership controversy, Chelsea were 2-1 winners over LOSC on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals on aggregate (4-1). LOSC scored first, but American Christian Pulisic added the equalizer before halftime. Cesar Azpilicueta found the winner in the 71st minute. Villareal also advanced after defeating Juventus (3-0).