Well, that was wild. Three of my Final Four teams are already back on campus, and I can only assume your bracket is just as busted. Seven of the top-16 teams in the country aren’t present in the Sweet 16, but that’s what we love about March. From Furman and Princeton to Fairleigh Dickinson, let’s recap the madness.
A whopping 70 participants in The Sportsletter’s Bracket Pool scored 40-plus points over the opening weekend of March Madness, but one player is out in front of the pack. My guy Parker O. is the man to beat. He correctly picked 40 out of 48 games in the first weekend, including 12 of the Sweet 16. His entire West Region? Perfection.
1. Parker O. (52 points) — Champion: Texas
T2. Peter F. (47 points) — Champion: UConn
T2. JL F. (47 points) — Champion: Houston
T2. Sati H. (47 points) — Champion: Texas
T2. Jess9285797 (47 points) — Champion: Purdue
*10 Players Tied for 6th With 46 Points
How Sweet It Is
Record-Setting Sweet 16 Awaits After Epic 1st Weekend in the NCAA Tournament
Phew… Deep breaths, people. The opening weekend of March Madness is in the books, and it was a historic four days of hoops. We saw a 15-seed reach the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. A 16-seed knocked off a 1-seed for the second time, ever. And when the dust settled, there are more conferences represented in the second weekend of the tournament than ever before (11). Your bracket? It’s likely busted. But that doesn’t mean the tournament is over. Here are some of the biggest storylines and highlights from the first weekend of March Madness.
Biggest Opening Weekend Storylines
#16 Fairleigh Dickinson Upsets #1 Purdue (63-58)
The biggest shocker of the first round was the biggest odds-on upset in NCAA Tournament history. The 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson — the shortest team in Division I — took down 1-seed Purdue and their 7-foot-4 player of the year candidate in Zach Edey. A matchup nightmare for Purdue saw FDU pack the paint and force the Boilers to shoot. They failed. FDU was a 23-point underdog and just the second 16-seed ever to knock off a 1-seed. They took 9-seed Florida Atlantic to the wire in Round 2, but that’s where the road ended for head coach Tobin Anderson and the Knights. Fun Fact: FDU won four games last season.
#15 Princeton Reaches Sweet 16
The biggest upset on Day 1 belonged to the Ivy League champs from Princeton. The 15-seed Tigers took down 2-seed Arizona, then they punched 7-seed Missouri to reach the Sweet 16. Princeton defends the 3-point line better than anyone, and they forced ‘Zona and Mizzou into a combined 9-for-38 shooting from deep (23.8 percent). It’s the fourth time in NCAA Tournament history that a 15-seed has reached the second weekend.
Top Seeds That Fell
#1 Purdue, #1 Kansas, #2 Arizona, #2 Marquette, and #3 Baylor all fell in the first weekend. If you add in #4 Virginia and #5 Duke, that’s seven of the top-16 teams in the final AP Poll that failed to reach the Sweet 16. Four of the top 10 (Purdue, Kansas, Marquette, and Arizona) didn’t escape the opening weekend.
Sleepers on the Move
As we stated, #15 Princeton has all the makings of a historic 15-seed Cinderella run. No 15-seed has ever gotten beyond the Elite Eight — Saint Peter’s set that record last season. Other high-seed sleepers like #6 Creighton, #8 Arkansas, #7 Michigan State, and #9 Florida Atlantic are lurking in the Sweet 16. That’s five teams seeded 6 or higher still alive, and four of those five are on the left side of the bracket. Could we be in for another sleeper all the way to the Final Four like 8-seed North Carolina a year ago? The other 11 teams are seeded 1-5 — essentially chalk.
11 Conferences Represented
The SEC (3) and Big East (3) are bringing six teams into the Sweet 16 as the top conferences in the tourney. The Big 12 (2) has a pair of top seeds still playing in #2 Texas and #3 Kansas State. The Big Ten (1), ACC (1), and Pac-12 (1) had major letdowns with only #7 Michigan State, #5 Miami, and #2 UCLA remaining between all three. Overall, a record-setting 11 different conferences are represented in the Sweet 16, including the six power conferences previously listed, as well as the American (1: Houston), West Coast Conference (1: Gonzaga), Mountain West (1: San Diego State), Ivy League (1: Princeton) and Conference USA (1: Florida Atlantic).
The Sweet 16
#1 Alabama, #5 San Diego State, #6 Creighton, #15 Princeton
#1 Houston, #2 Texas, #3 Xavier, #5 Miami
#3 Kansas State, #4 Tennessee, #7 Michigan State, #9 Florida Atlantic
#2 UCLA, #3 Gonzaga, #4 UConn, #8 Arkansas
Round of 32 Highlights
#1 Alabama def. #8 Maryland (73-51)
#1 Houston def. #9 Auburn (81-64)
#8 Arkansas def. #1 Kansas (72-71)
#2 Texas def. #10 Penn State (71-66)
#2 UCLA def. #7 Northwestern (68-63)
#7 Michigan State def. #2 Marquette (69-60)
#3 Gonzaga def. #6 TCU (84-81)
#3 Xavier def. #11 Pittsburgh (84-73)
#3 Kansas State def. #6 Kentucky (75-69)
#4 UConn def. #5 Saint Mary’s (70-55)
#4 Tennessee def. #5 Duke (65-52)
#5 Miami def. #4 Indiana (85-69)
#5 San Diego State def. #13 Furman (75-52)
#6 Creighton def. #3 Baylor (85-76)
#9 Florida Atlantic def. #16 Fairleigh Dickinson (78-70)
#15 Princeton def. #7 Missouri (78-63)
Updated NCAA Bracket | Sweet 16 Schedule
March Madness resumes on Thursday.
NCAA: Unwavering Against Cinderella FDU, Florida Atlantic Earns 1st Sweet 16
B/R: Gonzaga Uses Strong 2nd Half to Make 8th Straight Sweet 16 Appearance
SI: Tom Izzo, Strategy-Stricken Michigan State Deliver More March Magic
CBS Sports: March Madness Winners & Losers as Sweet 16 Becomes Clear
Down Goes Stanford
Half of Women’s Sweet 16 Set as #8 Ole Miss Stuns #1 Stanford in Round 2
The Women’s NCAA Tournament is three days in with one to play in order to shake out the rest of the Sweet 16. A pair of 12-seeds in Toledo and Florida Gulf Coast were the biggest underdog bids in Round 1, but 8-seed Ole Miss took down 1-seed Stanford on Sunday to produce the biggest upset of the weekend. It’s just the fifth time a 1-seed was knocked out before the Sweet 16 in the women’s tournament — the first time since 2009. The rest of the top seeds are still intact, but more games need to be played. Here’s an updated look at the women’s Sweet 16 action.
Women’s Round of 32 (8 Advanced to Sweet 16)
#1 South Carolina def. #8 South Florida (76-45)
#1 Virginia Tech def. #9 South Dakota State (72-60)
#2 Iowa def. #10 Georgia (74-66)
#2 Maryland def. #7 Arizona (77-64)
#2 Utah def. #10 Princeton (63-56)
#3 LSU def. #6 Michigan (66-42)
#3 Notre Dame def. #11 Mississippi State (53-48)
#8 Ole Miss def. #1 Stanford (54-49)
Remaining Round of 32 Schedule (Tonight)
#3 Ohio State vs. #6 North Carolina (4:00 pm ET)
#4 Tennessee vs. #12 Toledo (6:00 pm ET)
#4 Texas vs. #5 Louisville (7:00 pm ET)
#4 Villanova vs. #12 Florida Gulf Coast (7:00 pm ET)
#1 Indiana vs. #9 Miami (8:00 pm ET)
#3 Duke vs. #6 Colorado (9:00 pm ET)
#2 UConn vs. #7 Baylor (9:00 pm ET)
#4 UCLA vs. #5 Oklahoma (10:00 pm ET)
ESPN: How Ole Miss Stunned 1-Seed Stanford & Shook Up Women’s March Madness
USA Today: NCAA Women’s Tourney Winners & Losers: Virginia Tech Makes History
SI: Caitlin Clark’s Supporting Cast Keeps Iowa From Repeating Upset History
More Offseason Moves
NFL Free Agency, Trades & More Offseason Moves From the Weekend
What started as a wild NFL free agency window last week slowed down a little by the weekend. A handful of top names still made headlines over the weekend, including former Vikings WR Adam Thielen signing with the rebuilding Panthers and the Cowboys trading for a speedy receiver. The Packers and Jets still haven’t come to terms on a deal for QB Aaron Rodgers. While we wait on that saga to continue for eternity, here are the latest offseason moves as free agency rolls into Week 2.
NFL Free Agent Signings
WR Adam Thielen (Vikings) → Panthers
Contract: 3 Years, TBD
QB Marcus Mariota (Falcons) → Eagles
Contract: 1 Year, $5 Million
OG Isaac Seumalo (Eagles) → Steelers
Contract: 3 Years, $24 Million
RB D’Onta Foreman (Falcons) → Bears
Contract: 1 Year, $3 Million
Other Roster Moves
Cowboys Acquire Veteran WR Brandin Cooks From Texans (USA Today)
Texans & OT Laremy Tunsil Agree to 3-Year, $75 Million Extension (USA Today)
Buccaneers Release RB Leonard Fournette & TE Cameron Brate (Yahoo! Sports)
NFL: 2023 NFL Free Agency: Don’t Sleep on These 10 Free-Agent Signings
B/R: NFL Players Not Named Aaron Rodgers Who Must Be Traded After 1st Week of Free Agency
WBC: USA Routs Cuba in Semifinal (14-2)
After squeaking past Venezuela on Saturday, Team USA ran roughshod over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Sunday (14-2) to reach the finale on Tuesday. Trea Turner (2) and Paul Goldschmidt combined for three home runs and eight RBIs. Team USA awaits the winner of Mexico and Japan (Tonight, 7:00 pm ET).
NBA: Embiid, 76ers Stretch Streak to 8
Amid a flurry of NBA jockeying in the playoff race, the 76ers (48-22) remain the hottest team in the NBA with back-to-back blowouts this weekend. They swatted the Hornets by 39 (121-82) and rocked the Pacers by 20 (141-121) thanks to 79 combined points from Joel Embiid. Philly (27-8) and Milwaukee (28-8) are the top teams in the NBA since January 1.
NHL: Bruins’ History Watch Is On
A couple of hat tricks and win streaks by the Rangers and Golden Knights could’ve made a case for our NHL nod, but it’s hard to ignore the Bruins. Boston iced Buffalo on Sunday (7-0) for their fourth straight win. Seven different skaters scored, and the Bruins (111 points) are just 21 points away from breaking the NHL’s all-time single-season record with 13 games to play.
TENNIS: Alcaraz & Rybakina Win Indian Wells
It’s one of the few non-majors in tennis that earns a spot in our coverage, but Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina were winners at Indian Wells this weekend. The 19-year-old Alcaraz topped Daniil Medvedev in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) for his eighth career title. The 23-year-old Rybakina battled with Aryna Sabalenka (7-6, 6-4) for her fourth career singles crown.
PGA: Moore Outlasts Spieth for 1st PGA Win
Jordan Spieth’s name was near the top of the leaderboard at the Valspar Championship entering Sunday, but a surprise final-round surge from Taylor Moore gave the 29-year-old his first PGA Tour win. Moore (-10) birdied four of his last 10 holes on Sunday before watching Adam Schenk (-9) and Spieth (-8) both bogey the 18th hole.
SOCCER: Barca Owns El Clasico in 2023
Barcelona used a stoppage-time goal from Franck Kessie (90+2’) to beat Real Madrid (2-1) for the third time in 2023 in Sunday’s El Clasico. Real Madrid scored first on a “freakish” own goal in the 9th minute. Another goal from Marco Asensio was ruled offsides in the 80th minute before Kessie’s winner. The rivalry now leans 3-0 in favor of Barcelona in 2023.