Do you want March? We have March…
A weekend full of bracket-shifting games just set the stage for conference tournament week. In the men’s game, it’s anybody’s guess, but the women are already cutting down nets. And when the dust settles by Sunday afternoon, we’ll be scribbling on brackets once again.
#1 Houston Survives on Buzzer-Beater in Weekend of Upsets, But March Begins With One Clear-Cut Favorite… Anybody
Can you hear it? The sound of brackets ripping is already starting to echo throughout the nation. Selection Sunday is still six days away — separated by conference tournaments between now and then — but the weekend in the rearview proved this truly is anybody’s March. Five mid-majors have already punched their tickets to the Big Dance (see below), but those early automatic bids aren’t exactly title favorites. Six of the top 12 teams in the country lost in a 12-hour window this weekend, and four of the other six survived upset scares in games decided by two possessions or less. Years past have usually given us a Gonzaga, Kentucky, Duke, or some semblance of a blue blood with a target on their back. This year’s bracket will have no such thing.
An overwhelming favorite? Think again. The No. 1 overall seed is still wide open with six days left. You might have zeroed in on Kansas late in the season, but they lost by double digits this weekend. Maybe Houston? The Cougars are probably heading for that top spot, but they needed a buzzer-beater to survive Memphis. Alabama? They fell this weekend, and their off-the-court issues could be a detriment. What about Purdue? They barely escaped Illinois and Wisconsin this week after blowing leads, and they haven’t looked good in February. UCLA continues to be intriguing, but not the favorite. Marquette squeaked past St. John’s by a bucket, and Baylor also went down in upset fashion.
The point is this: March Madness has no juggernaut sitting at the top left corner of the bracket. That “team to beat” doesn’t exist. If it does, they’ve been beaten already… plenty of times. The 2023 NCAA Tournament won’t afford anyone confidence in a pick that says: “Yeah, they’re winning it all.” That’s the beauty of the madness, but this year might be madder than ever.
Odds to Win March Madness (as of March 6)
Others: Baylor (+1500), UConn (+2000), Gonzaga (+2000), Texas (+2500), Marquette (+2500), Tennessee (+3500)
NCAA Men’s Basketball Scoreboard (Top-12)
#1 Houston def. Memphis (67-65)
*Buzzer-Beater by Jamal Shead
#24 Texas A&M def. #2 Alabama (67-61)
#9 Texas def. #3 Kansas (75-59)
#4 UCLA def. #8 Arizona (82-73)
#5 Purdue def. Illinois (76-71)
#6 Marquette def. St. John’s (96-94)
Iowa State def. #7 Baylor (73-58)
West Virginia def. #11 Kansas State (89-81)
Auburn def. #12 Tennessee (79-70)
#15 Indiana def. Michigan (75-73, OT)
*Michigan’s Bubble Pops
#16 Miami def. #25 Pittsburgh (78-76)
*Miami Wins ACC Regular-Season Title
Duke def. North Carolina (62-57)
*UNC Suffers Huge Blow to Bubble Destiny
NCAA Tournament Automatic Bids
Remember: 32 teams receive automatic bids by winning their conference tournament. The remaining 36 teams come from at-large bids selected by the committee. It’s dancing season, and these five teams already have their shoes:
Drake (Missouri Valley)
Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast)
Kennesaw State (ASUN)
Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley)
UNC Asheville (Big South)
Conference Tournament Schedule
West Coast Conference: Tonight & Tomorrow (Semifinal & Final)
ACC: Begins Tuesday
Big 12: Begins Wednesday
Big East: Begins Wednesday
Big Ten: Begins Wednesday
Pac-12: Begins Wednesday
SEC: Begins Wednesday
The power conference tournaments are about to shake things up even more this week. The brackets will be revealed Sunday night. The way it looks right now? It’s anybody’s March.
NCAA: Houston & Penn State Buzzer-Beaters Cap Off Wild Regular Season Before Conference Tournaments
B/R: Sleeper Picks for Every Major 2023 Men’s Conference Tournament
ESPN: Men’s Champ Week: Tournament Brackets, Schedules, Auto Bids & More
Women’s Conference Champs
South Carolina’s SEC Title Was No Surprise, But Upsets & Chaos Took Over Women’s Champ Week
If you thought men’s college hoops were bonkers over the weekend, the women’s conference tournaments might’ve topped it. Four major conference crowns were claimed on Sunday, including two first-time champions you didn’t expect. The Big East Final takes the stage tonight while the Big 12 Tournament won’t tip off until this weekend.
What do we know so far? It’s No. 1 South Carolina vs. the field. The Gamecocks (32-0) continued their historic undefeated season by rolling through the SEC Tournament with three double-digit wins, but every other conference tourney featured surprise upsets or blowouts along the way. Here’s how each major women’s conference tournament played out.
Women’s Conference Championships
SEC: #1 South Carolina def. Tennessee (74-58)
There’s no stopping Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke. South Carolina steamrolled everybody in the SEC with three wins by an average of 24 points — Arkansas (93-66), Ole Miss (80-51), and Tennessee (74-58) in the final. It’s their seventh SEC title in nine seasons, and Dawn Staley’s net-cutting month of March is becoming an annual routine.
Big Ten: #7 Iowa def. #14 Ohio State (105-72)
The Big Ten had five ranked teams in the upper tier of conference play — #17 Michigan, #14 Ohio State, #7 Iowa, #5 Maryland, and #2 Indiana. OSU beat Michigan in the quarterfinals and Indiana with a 20-point second-half comeback in the semis (79-75) while #7 Iowa escaped #5 Maryland (89-84) to set up the Hawkeyes-Buckeyes finale. That’s where Caitlin Clark took over. Iowa buried OSU in the final (105-72) behind Clark’s 30-point triple-double (30-17-10). The Hawkeyes led 61-24 at the half and never looked back. It’s their second straight Big Ten title.
ACC: #8 Virginia Tech def. Louisville (75-67)
A first-time champ! #8 Virginia Tech claimed the first ACC crown in program history by shutting down Louisville in the final (75-67) thanks to Georgia Amoore’s 25 points. The final matchup was set up by Louisville shocking #10 Notre Dame with a blowout upset for the ages in the semifinal (64-38). The Hokies handled Miami and #13 Duke comfortably en route to Sunday’s championship game and their first ACC Tournament title.
Pac-12: Washington State def. #19 UCLA (65-61)
If there was an underdog of the weekend in women’s hoops, it had to be Washington State. The Cougars entered the Pac-12 tournament as the 7-seed with five ranked teams in the conference. They weren’t really on the radar, but WSU upset #3 Utah in the quarterfinals (66-58) and #20 Colorado in the semis (61-49) while #19 UCLA knocked out #6 Stanford (69-65) to set up Sunday’s showdown. WSU struck down the Bruins in the final (65-61) thanks to Charlisse Leger-Walker (23 points on five 3s), and the Cougars won their first Pac-12 title — the only unranked team to win a power conference championship.
Women’s Conference Tournaments Schedules
Big East Final: #9 UConn vs. #11 Villanova (7:00 pm ET)
Big 12 Tournament: Begins Thursday
NFL Combine Rewind
The Top Storylines & Standouts From the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and 32 franchises now have a better measuring tool for their selections in next month’s NFL Draft. Field drills may not always be reflected in results at the next level, but a number of players just shot up the draft board. Here are some of the top storylines and moments from combine weekend.
Quarterbacks: Anthony Richardson Stole the Show
Of all the impressive performances, Florida QB Anthony Richardson gained the most buzz over the weekend. His 6-foot-4, 244-pound frame makes him a side-by-side comparison to Cam Newton, and he broke the quarterback combine records for vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches) while clocking the third-fastest 40-yard dash by a quarterback ever (4.44 seconds). Meanwhile, Kentucky QB Will Levis put his massive arm on display and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud may have jumped Alabama QB Bryce Young (who didn’t throw) as the premier quarterback of the class. But Richardson earned the award for the biggest rise in draft stock at the quarterback position.
DT Calijah Klancey’s 40-Yard Dash
Pittsburgh DT Calijah Klancey ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash time — the fastest 40 times by a defensive tackle since 2003. He topped Aaron Donald’s mark of 4.68 seconds in 2014.
Edge Rushers See Stocks Rise
A number of top pass-rushers and edge players may have made the biggest leaps with their combine numbers. Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern), Jack Campbell (Iowa), Nolan Smith (Georgia), and Byron Young (Tennessee) put up strong results as a group.
1st-Round Receivers: Who’s Up & Who’s Down?
Three of the top receivers in the 2023 class are projected to be first-round picks, but only two helped themselves this weekend. Zay Flowers (Boston College), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) put together measurements that should land them at the top of Round 1. Undersized Jordan Addison (USC) didn’t help his draft stock with forgettable speed and small hands.
The NFL Draft is a spring circus of conjecture, smoke screens, and mock drafts. The combine could make or break a player’s landing spot and rookie paycheck, but we won’t know until April 27.
FOX Sports: Anthony Richardson Breaks Multiple QB Records at NFL Combine
CBS Sports: Anthony Richardson’s 10 Best Landing Spots
ESPN+: NFL Combine: Top Prospect Workouts, Risers, Fastest 40s & More
UFC: Jon Jones Takes Heavyweight Title
After three years removed from the UFC and an upgrade in weight class, Jon Jones (27-1-0) captured the UFC heavyweight title Saturday after making quick work of Ciryl Gane (11-2-0) with a first-round submission in just over two minutes — the third-fastest win all-time in a heavyweight bout.
NBA: Knicks Top Celtics in 2OT for 9th Straight
Here come the Knicks! After the Bucks saw their 16-game win streak come to an end over the weekend, New York now holds the longest streak in the NBA (9 games) after a double-overtime thriller against the Celtics on Sunday (131-129, 2OT). The Knicks (39-27) have climbed within a few games of the East’s upper echelon.
NHL: Teravainen Nets 2nd Career Hat Trick for Canes
The Hurricanes maintained their position atop the crowded Metropolitan Division on Sunday with a 6-0 shutout against the Lightning thanks to Teuvo Teravainen’s second career hat trick. Teravainen scored in all three periods, and the Hurricanes (90 points) are looking down at the division.
EPL: Liverpool Hangs 7 on Man-U
The marquee match of the Premier League weekend was all square at 0-0 through 43 minutes before Liverpool went on a historic goal blitz to rout Manchester United (7-0). Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, and Mo Salah all scored two goals apiece, and Man-U suffered its worst loss since Boxing Day in 1931.
PGA: Kitayama Outlasts Field at Bay Hill
Big names climbed the leaderboard Sunday at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but three-round leader Kurt Kitayama (-9) hung on with a clutch birdie on the 17th to claim his first PGA Tour victory. He held off Rory McIlroy (-8), Scottie Scheffler (-7), Jordan Spieth (-7), and Patrick Cantlay (-7).
F1: Verstappen Starts F1 Title Defense With Win
The Formula 1 season launched Sunday at the Bahrain Grand Prix for the opening race, and Max Verstappen picked up right where he left off. After dominating the F1 circuit in 2021 and 2022, Verstappen has now won 10 of his last 12 races.